Leadership Requires Being a Role Model

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Often, people ask me what kinds of CEOs join Vistage. I reply that my members are smart, curious people with lots of integrity. They’re success, and want more success for themselves and their employees. They know they don’t have all the answers and don’t let their egos get in the way of learning from other people – experts and CEOs. And most important, they understand the importance of being a role model for their employees.

Melinda Gates recent WSJ article about her forthcoming book “The Moment of Life”, made me realize there was another dimension: they are role models not just in their companies but in their communities.

In her article “Equality for Women Must Start at Home (Even the Gates Home)”, she reflects on her own experiences with achieving equality once she and Bill started having children. Since it was also an important time for Microsoft – “the peak of his commitment” – a pattern emerged in which he became was working long hours in the office while she became the principle caretaker. Recognizing this pattern was the opposite of what they envision with their the goal of equality at home, and eventually with their foundation, they began making changes.

Therefore she started a conversation with Bill: she noted that if she would be the person who had to sacrifice work each morning to take their daughter to school, they were not pursuing equality. Bill volunteered to assume the driver role a few days of the week. Soon, they noted that more dads were also doing the morning drop-offs. One of the other moms told Ms. Gates, “When we saw Bill driving, we went home and said to our husbands “Bill Gates is driving his child to school; you can too.” The conversation Bill and Melinda had at home, followed by action, and sparked similar conversations and action by others.

The powerful realization that all leaders should have sustanon is that we have to be role models within our companies, if we want to be authentic leaders with impact. And, since such behavior doesn’t stop at the “corporate door” but continues into our communities, being authentic means being a role model in the community where we also will have an impact.

Are you a role model of behaviors in your company? Share some of the ways you use your actions to influence others. Also, share with us how you serve as a role model when you engage in community activities for yourself, your family and others.