How Can a Leader Serve as a Role Model?
One way to teach employees about leadership is by being a role model they can observe and emulate. A company's culture derives in large part from the behavior modeled by its leaders, and employees notice when the bosses is setting a good example -- and when they are not. If a business owner provides a powerful, consistent and positive role model, the company will likely follow that lead.
A leader can serve as a positive role model through demonstrating that he accepts personal responsibility for his actions. Examples include apologizing if he loses his temper, and avoiding blame and looking forward if the company experiences a downturn. These behaviors present a powerful image to employees about expectations for their own behavior. On the other hand, if a business owner angers easily or blames others, employees will be concerned with protecting themselves and less focused on the business as a whole.
Leaders also can serve as positive role models through focusing on others. Servant leadership, which is focused on the needs of colleagues, can provide a model for serving others internally as well as for meeting the needs of customers. However, back-biting and excessive rivalries among managers will discourage cooperation internally and can even prevent good customer service.
Great leaders refuse to allow an emergency or individual crisis to derail the organization from its long-term goals. Rather than reacting, they respond with just enough force to set the organization back on equilibrium. When leaders present this calm, focused role model, employees also remain calm, and balance returns more quickly to the organization. On the other hand, an anxious, reactive manager will fuel anxiety among subordinates.
Leaders can serve as positive role models for innovation by being open to innovation themselves. For example, a day care center director can provide space for practicing new teaching techniques. On the other hand, preaching the importance of innovation while simultaneously micromanaging likely will discourage creativity and negatively affect morale.
Executives who utilize their time effectively show employees that much can be accomplished throughout the business day. Keeping a focus on the right priorities is also a key way for leaders to teach their employees how to handle the most important tasks first, and then work to solve lesser issues. Honing in on the issues that will ensure a company's success shows that everyone needs to work collaboratively to achieve major goals. Conversely, leaders who spend time focusing on details or issues that are not vital to success, may slow down productivity and cause frustration for workers who are then unable to get a handle on their workload.