How To Be A Role Model At Work? 6 Tips For Managers

How To Be A Role Model At Work? 6 Tips For Managers

If an organization is to run smoothly and sustainably, people need to be at the right place for the right reasons. Bound by their responsibilities and with the best interest of the company at heart, managers are expected to have the ability to make all the right decisions and act accordingly. What’s more, they need to set a strong example for others. To bring out your full potential as a manager, learn how to be a good role model for your team through the tips listed below. But before that let’s understand what does it mean to be a positive role model at work.

What is a Role Model in the Workplace?

No one-size-fits-all answer to this question exists, as “role models” can mean different things to different people. For some, a role model is someone they aspire to be like. Someone who is successful and has a lot of admirable qualities. For others, a model might be someone they know personally. A friend or family member who they look up to and respect. A role model in the workplace is someone who employees can look up to for guidance, support, and mentorship. It is an employee in an organization who is admired by others for their abilities, achievements, and qualities. They are often company leaders who plan company activities and have a wealth of experience they can share with others. Some of the most famous leaders we have learned from have often credited their success to inspiration from their role models. Check some examples of great role models below:
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, cites Mahatma Gandhi as a role model for his leadership style. Nadella emphasizes principles such as empathy, humility, and the focus on the greater good, inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and service to others.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has mentioned Robert F. Kennedy as a role model for his commitment to social justice, civil rights, and advocacy. Cook admires Kennedy’s ability to lead with a strong sense of purpose.

Oprah Winfrey often credits the renowned poet and author Maya Angelou as a mentor and guiding influence in her life. Angelou’s wisdom and guidance were instrumental in Oprah’s personal and professional development.

The critical thing to understand is that when an individual or group chooses someone to be their role model, it is because the person being called the role model embodies the values, qualities, behavior, positive attitude, hard work, and persistence they want to emulate. A good role model has a lot of qualities embodied in them. The 5 main qualities they are usually known for are:

Role Models are Passionate About Their Work

Role models not only have a great work ethic, but they are also passionate about their work. People who are passionate about their work tend to take it more seriously and put in more effort. It often results in better quality work and more success. Passion is contagious. When someone sees that their model has perseverance and is passionate about their work, it also encourages them to be passionate. It creates a domino effect, where others become inspired by the role model’s passion and are driven to achieve even more.

Role Models are Authentic in Their Interactions 

Role models are authentic in their interactions. They don’t put on a persona for the public. They are genuine in their interactions with other people, and they stay true to themselves. People can tell when someone is being fake, and they don’t get inspired by untrue shows of passion. The key lies in ensuring authenticity in every instance and interaction with the team. People often look to role models as a way to find authenticity in their lives. A role model is admired and looked up to because they are real and honest. Hence, remember that positive role models share their vulnerabilities and talk about their mistakes. They do not put forward a picture of perfection. Instead, accept mistakes as they come and be prepared to be human. This makes you more relatable and people feel like they can connect with them.

Role Models are Supportive in Their Work

Role models make you feel supported. They help you believe in yourself and give you the strength to achieve your goals. We often turn to these models for inspiration and support as we navigate through life. There are many ways in which role models do support their followers:

Positive Role Models Encourage Others

Role models encourage and motivate people to achieve their goals. Good role models provide encouragement and support, and they help you stay on track when you feel like giving up. They also teach you how to handle difficult situations and make good decisions. A positive role model at work can help you improve and achieve your goals. We often look to role models for guidance and encouragement, especially when making crucial life decisions. They help us to believe in ourselves and our abilities. They also provide practical advice and feedback, which is invaluable when improving our skills. Ultimately, good role models encourage us to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

Role Models are Inspiring

A good role model at work can be the ultimate source of inspiration and encouragement. Through their actions and attitudes, role models can enable positive change significantly. Think of the various individuals who made you take the leap of faith – the teachers who gave the nudge or instances where your parent showed you that challenges are not the end – such figures in a professional setting are a great resource. By being a manager who can inspire others similarly, your impact stays even after you are present. For instance, while talking about manager stories, Pavan Varma, the founder of Orgzit, revealed that he found great inspiration in his colleague and mentor, Tom Mendoza. Tom’s stories, often centered around high-stakes situations like sports and wars, profoundly impacted him. These narratives highlighted the immense responsibility of captains and leaders, where a mistake could result in significant losses for the entire team. Through Tom’s stories, Pavan learned the importance of inspiring team members and how it can benefit the company. Based on these ideas, Pavan gathered the importance of inspiration and some great ways to inspire others, which he implemented promptly at his own venture.

Why Should Managers Become Good Role Models at Work?

Managers are majorly considered role models, whether they like it or not. Research backs the idea that newly promoted supervisors model their manager’s behavior, whether good or bad. Employees observe how managers treat others, make decisions, and react under pressure. They then try to replicate that behavior, thinking it is the optimum way. All this happens unconsciously. A manager’s job is to lead and motivate their team. To do that, they must be good role models for their team members. If team members see their manager working hard and caring for their work, they will likely want to do the same. As a result, becoming a good role model is critical for a manager to become an effective manager and build high-performing teams following in your footsteps.  By being a model as a manager, you can create a positive team that deals with every adversity with positivity and in a responsible manner and gets the work done with full potential. It ensures that a positive and standard culture is present to guide your team in times of trouble.  Most importantly, team members will be more likely to trust their manager and follow their lead if they know the manager is someone they can admire. An authentic leader can effectively build loyalty among their team members. A manager’s ability to become a role model for their team decides if they can become a good manager and a good leader.

How to be a Good Role Model at Work? 6 Tips for Managers

Practice What You Preach

The not-so-straightforward process of being a positive role model at work starts when a manager behaves the way they want their team to. If you want your team to remain accountable for their tasks, the first step is building and demonstrating accountability for the things you handle. This can help to build trust and create a positive work environment. All that will ultimately make the manager a positive role model for their team.

Be Patient and Understanding With Your Team

One of the most important things a manager can do to become a role model is to be patient and understanding with their employees. It means setting a good example for them to follow and taking the time to listen to them and help them when needed. When things get tough, it can be tempting to lash out at employees. However, this will only damage your chances of becoming their ideal model. It will also make it difficult for them to perform well. Instead, take a deep breath and try to remain calm. Communicate openly with employees, and be understanding of any problems they may be facing. By being patient and understanding, you will build trust with your employees and be able to help people when needed.

Take the Time to Listen to Them and Understand Their Concerns

Employees want to feel like their concerns are heard and that they have a voice in the company. They also want to see their managers taking the time to listen to others and set a good example.  If you want your employees to emulate the best qualities of you as a manager by seeing you as a role model, then you need to take the time to listen to them and understand employee concerns.  When employees feel like they can approach their manager with any issue or concern, big or small, they’ll be more likely to trust and respect the manager. And that’s what will make them want to do their best work for the manager and see him or her as a role model. Learn more about this crucial skill here: 7 Steps To Master Active Listening For Managers

Develop a Positive Work Culture

A positive work culture is key to having a productive, successful team. When team members feel appreciated and supported, they are more likely to do their best work. As a manager, it’s important to take the time to develop a positive work culture and be an example for your team members. It starts with simple steps like taking breaks when needed and helping others whenever you can. If you as a manager want yourself to become the role model of your team members, you need to set the bar high. Show them that you care about your work and that you’re always willing to put in the extra effort. Be supportive, communicative, patient, and most importantly, lead by example. Read more about the importance of a good company culture here: Proven culture hacks you have always been looking for

Coach, Guide, and Encourage Your Employees When They Need it

Your employees are looking up to you as their role models. They want to be like you, and they want to be able to do the things that you can do. But sometimes, they may feel like they can’t do everything that you can. This is where you come in as their coach. You need to be there to encourage them and guide them when they need it. You need to be the one who helps them to see the potential that they have, and the potential that they can reach. You need to be the one who helps them to be their best selves.

Stay Up-to-date With Changes in The Industry or Your Field of Work

To be a good role model, you need to stay up-to-date with the changes in the industry or their field. This is not an easy task because it takes a lot of time and effort to stay on top of all the changes that are happening in the world. Still, it is necessary to stay updated for becoming a good role model at work and to make sure that you are meeting the expectations of your organization and your employees or team members. You must be seen as an expert in the area of your work. If not, you will not hold any credibility in your team’s eyes.


Being a manager, it’s time to start being a good role model for your team. A good role model is someone who sets an example and teaches their team the right things, both in and out of the office. With this in mind, we have listed six tips for managers to become good role models for their employees. We believe that if managers can follow all these tips and if they can develop the 5 listed qualities of a good role model, the chances of them becoming the role model of their employees will shoot for the highest.

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Author: Deeksha Sharma

Deeksha, with a solid educational background in human resources, bridges the gap between your goals and you with valuable insights and strategies within leadership development. Her unique perspectives, powered by voracious reading, lead to thoughtful pieces that tie conventional know-how and innovative approaches together to enable success for management professionals.

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