Well, are you? The short answer, especially if you’re a leader or even just someone in a leadership position, is yes.
Your people watch you. No one is born with the knowledge of what it takes to succeed so they must learn it. They learn some of it by listening, some by reading, but mostly they learn from watching. If you are their leader or the person who is above them in a leadership position then it’s you they are watching. You MUST be their model of successful behavior!
So you absolutely are a role model. The only question is, do you model behavior that leads to success or do you model behavior that leads to something else.
You can tell your people what to do and they may do it. You can show them and they will likely do it, or you can tell them and show them. If what you said matches what you do they will almost certainly do it.
Therein lies the problem for people who are leaders only because they occupy a leadership position. Their words often don’t match their actions. They have yet to learn that their people will do what they do long before they will do what they say. They are also surprised when they eventually learn just how closely they are watched by those who would follow them.
Authentic leaders are careful to make certain that their actions match their words. They realize that is the surest way to build trust and credibility and that those two characteristics are vital for leadership.
Showing your people what to do however isn’t really enough. Showing them how to do it is key. By “how to do it” I don’t mean how from a technical nature, I mean how in terms of attitude.
You are their attitude model as well. Attitudes are contagious and no attitude is more contagious than the attitude of the leader. You may not appreciate hearing this but if your people appear to have a negative attitude then you must make certain that you are not the source. Maintaining a positive attitude is critical for effective leadership.
If your goal as a leader is to build other leaders then your words and actions must match and you must do everything possible to maintain a positive attitude.
So, watch what you say and remember, someone else is always watching what you do.