Feedback Leadership Role Model Self awareness

Does the mirror tell you that you are a role model?

When your ambition is to be a role model, a true role model, you better know your stuff. 

Nearly all companies worldwide have some version of integrity as a value. Only a few have clearly defined what behaviors they expect when they speak about integrity. And even fewer companies reinforce and live by those behaviors.

Just for fun, let’s say that 80 out of 100 companies have integrity as a value. 20 of those 80 companies have translated integrity into concrete behaviors and expectations for everyone inside the company. 

Of those 20, 5 companies can genuinely say they live by the values. That includes the leaders of the companies role modeling the behaviors. 

Only 1 of those five companies has also addressed the unconscious bias within company leaders. Bias that undermines integrity behaviors.

Kudos to you if you are that one company (or one percent). 

To be clear. The example above has been entirely made up. I don’t have scientific evidence. Just life experience.

Of course, there are clear cases where leaders do not lead and behave with integrity. This varies from creating fear and an unsafe work environment to harassment (while still having integrity as a value).

Unfortunately, when people produce excellent results but don’t behave as they should, the results still win when decisions need to be made. 

Only some CEOs (and their People and Culture leaders) have the guts to stand for their values and let (high-performing) people go when they’re not the role models they are supposed to be.

That leads me to this question:

Are you a role model for the people you work with?

Assuming your answer is yes, have you also asked them? When the answer is yes, I’ve asked, and yes, they acknowledged authentically that you’re a role model and you’re on the right track.

If any of the above questions lead to a No, there’s work to do. Best is to start to ask where you failed to be a role model. And prepare yourself for some insights you might not necessarily like.

We may believe we’re role models, but who gets to decide?

We may believe we are leaders, but who gets to decide?

It’s not you.

The people who work with you and follow you ultimately decide whether you follow in the category of role model and leader.

You may be wrong even when you believe you’re doing everything by the book.


Because we all have bias.

Even when we believe we’re all about equality and act accordingly, we may do something incredibly offensive to another person. We just had no clue.

A historical example is the pay gap between women and men. It’s the same job, same qualifications. Less paid. 

And it’s still there. In many industries and business.

When your ambition is to be a role model, a true role model, you better know your stuff. 

What I mean by that is your impact on the people you work with, how you impact them, and certain biases and behaviors you’re unaware of. Stuff like that. 

The ‘soft’ stuff, as many people incorrectly call it. Because it’s the hard stuff. 

Your impact on others you can find out only in one way. 


Your turn: Just ask!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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