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May 12, 2007

Digg This Story

Leaders as Role Models

Leaders as Role Models

Everybody has a role model, someone who has done the same
job we are doing or taken the same path of life we are traveling
on. Sometimes, we are embarrassed or are too ego-conscious
to admit having a role model. The reality is that without
tapping on the knowledge and experience of the people who
have succeeded before us, we are likely to fall into the same
pits that they could have fallen into or have difficulty
clearing the same hurdles and obstacles. There is nothing
wrong learning from others, secretly or otherwise. In our
leadership career, we have learned this invaluable lesson. With
this in mind, we created this blog you are now reading,
essentially to share with you whatever wisdom we have in
business and management.

Story:

The Young Thief and his Mother

Leaders as Role Models
(Illus by Cassatt, Mary: The Young Mother)

A young Man had been caught in a daring act of theft and had
been condemned to be executed for it. He expressed his desire
to see his Mother, and to speak with her before he was led to
execution, and of course this was granted. When his Mother
came to him he said: "I want to whisper to you," and when she
brought her ear near him, he nearly bit it off. All the bystanders
were horrified, and asked him what he could mean by such
brutal and inhuman conduct. "It is to punish her," he said.
"When I was young I began with stealing little things, and
brought them home to Mother. Instead of rebuking and
punishing me, she laughed and said: "It will not be noticed."
It is because of her that I am here to-day."

"He is right, woman," said the Priest; "the Lord hath said:

"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old
he will not depart therefrom."

Moral:

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old
he will not depart therefrom.

Nip the problem in the bud.

Quotable Quotes:

“You should be the change that you want to see in
the world.” ... Mahatma Gandhi

“Leaders walk their talk; in true leaders there is no
gap between the theories they espouse and their
practice.” ... Warren Bennis

“Leadership is practiced, not so much in words as in
attitude and in actions.” ... Harold S. Geneen

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others.
It is the only thing.” ... Albert Schweitzer

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn
at no other.” ... Edmund Burke

“Few things are harder to put up with than the

annoyance of a good example.” ... Mark Twain

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

We thought this story is appropriate in view of Mother's Day
that will be celebrated in many parts of the world this weekend.
It is a timely reminder to all of us about the importance of our
actions and belief to the people around us.

Ask a child about his/her role model, someone the child looks
up to, worship, and admire. Invariably, the child will have a
name. It may be a fictitious character – Superman, Harry
Potter, Tooth Fairy – or a celebrity and well-known figure –
Paris Hilton, Tiger Woods, Christopher Reeves. Interesting
that the role models are very often not the parents. Perhaps
familiarity breeds contempt or perhaps parents never truly
make the effort to create that sort of impact in their children's
minds.

Good role models are essential. They give us directions and
goals. They inspire us to achieve our dreams, and when
things don't turn out as they should, our role models are
there to share with us their insights on how they overcome
their setbacks.

A child may have been fascinated by Superman, a superhero
that embodies strength, justice, and the good in mankind. They
idolized their hero onscreen, played by the late Christopher
Reeve. They were shocked by the accident when their idol fell
from his horse and was paralyzed from the neck down. Knowing
how much his character meant to his many fans, the late actor
mustered his courage and overcame his physical limitation with
a string of achievements and remarkable optimism. In his mind,
“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to
persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” A
role model like him is much to be celebrated and revered.

Many authors have spoken openly about the influential figures
in their lives. Annie Dillard (U.S. author) described in “An
American Childhood” how she nurtured her strong and
independent character by taking after her mother. Her mother
was not one who relied on assumptions. When she told her
mother how she thought Eisenhower would win the elections
because everyone said so, her mother's answer was simply
whether she had asked “everyone”. In her essay, “Sister Flowers”,
Maya Angelou (U.S. poet and playwright) attributed her learning
and nurturing to a Mrs Betha Flowers who taught her reading,
poems, and life lessons.

Like it or not, as long as you are in a position of influence, you
will be watched. Good leaders and corporate executives are
therefore conscious about the way they behave and the things
they say in the presence of their colleagues. Sometimes, leaders
feel the enormous need to “walk the walk”. It was in the 1980s
that the then CEO of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca, cut his salary to $1
per year to reinforce his belief that the company would turn
around, which it did. In what seemed like a good exemplary
practice, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and their co-founders Larry
Page and Sergey Brin continued to receive their $1 annual
salary this year, and so did Yahoo! chairman and CEO Terry
Semel and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Leaders often underestimate the influence they have over their
followers and subordinates. The next time you hear these words -
“remember that you told us”, “you did this the last time” - or
words to that effect, know that you have already made a major
difference in someone's lives.

To the mothers of the world, a Happy Mother's Day!

Related Articles:

Autocrats, dictators, and dominant bosses

Christmas tale and generous managers
Boss's pet and Favoritism

Books worth reading:

A Hand to Guide Me, written by Denzel Washington, inspires
us with stories by many celebrities on the role models who had
given them the necessary push in life. Whoopi Goldberg had
her mother to thank while in Bill Clinton's case, it was his
great-uncle.

Everybody knows Sidney Poitier, the first black actor to win an
Academy Award for Best Actor. Read his book, The Measure
of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (Oprah's Book Club),
to understand how his parents' teachings about righteousness
had groomed his character and values in personal life and in
his career.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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2 comments:

Peter Haslam said...

Good tale and reminder

Little Robin Hood said...

Hi, Jim:

Another wonderful blog you have made. I created a link to my blog:
http://onlyamum.blogspot.com and copy part of your story, hope you don't mind.

Kind regards

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVES

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