To a very large degree, effective leadership is quite similar to effective parenting- in both situations, there is a need for role models. Just as children often react, either positively or adversely to the actions and behaviors of their parents, members of organizations, and especially potential future leaders, need to look to someone other than themselves, to set an example, and help mentor and guide them towards success. Goldsmith wrote, "People seldom improve when they have no model but themselves to copy."
1. Someone can either serve as a positive or a negative role model. A negative role model is one that someone looks to as doing certain things in certain ways that the onlooking individual views as counter- productive, distasteful, wrong, wasteful, foolish, or sometimes, just downright stupid. This often motivates a potential leader to do things differently in order to achieve far better results, and helps one to understand the ramifications of the bad example's actions or methods. A positive role model teaches one the integrity, honesty, thought processes, organizational skills, productive methods and intents, etc., that are so helpful to someone in leadership.
2. Most great leaders I have met credit either an individual or a few individuals with shaping him and assisting him to achieve. These individuals are usually referred to as mentors, who take the new person under their wing, and give them both an historical perspective, as well as the advantages and wisdom gained from experience, expertise and knowledge gained. These mentors are instructive both by what they have done, said and instructed, as well as by simply observing their actions, behaviors and the way they carry themselves. One of the greatest things a quality mentor can do is act as a sounding board, and to act sometimes as the Devil's Advocate, in order to open the eyes of the leader to perspectives he may not have considered, or, at the very least, to encourage the leader to think something through in a variety of alternative ways.
All leaders need to follow some example. Often, what makes someone great is whom they select to follow the example of, and why. When one examines the role models selected, it often tells you an awful lot about the leader himself. It often tells you about his judgment, his biases, his perspective, his point of view, and his degree of flexibility. The greatest leaders select multiple role models with varying points of views and approaches, in order to have the opportunity to select the best methodologies available. A true leader understands and realizes that what he does, as well as what he doesn't do, how he behaves, etc., will serve as a role model to future generations. It is in this way that a leader's legacy is most valuable, in the lessons it teaches others, and the positive potential impact a leader can have on others.
Richard Brody, with over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience, has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc. He has negotiated, arranged and/ or organized hundreds of conferences and conventions. He's a Senior Consultant with RGB Consultation Services, an Ecobroker, a Licensed Buyers Agent (LBA) and Licensed Salesperson in NYS, in real estate.
Richard has owned businesses, been a Chief Operating Officer, a Chief Executive Officer, and a Director of Development, as well as a consultant. He has a Consulting Website, and his company PLAN2LEAD, LLC's site ( http://www.plan2lead.net/ ), and can be followed on Twitter @rgbrody and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Plan2lead