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Note to Manager: Why You Need to be a Strong Role Model

Posted Apr 15 2009 11:43pm
By Marla Rosner
Marla Rosner & Associates
Helping Executives, Managers and Teams,
Listen, Learn and Lead
www.rosnerassociates.net

Whether you’re a new manager, or an experienced manager, maybe with a new area of responsibility, it might be time for you to take a look at this aspect of your job: you, as a role model.

You must have passed the preliminary test as a role model or you wouldn’t have been hired or promoted to a manager position. Now it’s time to understand what more is expected. The people that report to you (your “direct reports”) and your boss will be noting how you carry out this aspect of your job. They may not ever say anything to you, and nobody will be standing at the office door with a checklist when you walk in. It’s subtle – but important.

Your direct reports will register aspects of your behavior and, perhaps without even being aware of it, make assumptions about what they can also do at work. For example:
* “If he’s late, I can be late.”
* “If she’s wearing jeans with holes on casual Friday, it must be trendy. I can wear mine too.”
* “If she makes nasty remarks about others in the company, so can I.”
* “If he makes long personal phone calls from work, why shouldn’t I chat with my girlfriend when I feel like it?”

Bosses have a different vantage point and are concerned with the impact you have on others as someone in a management position. For example:
* “If he’s late, his people are going to start to be late.”
* “If she’s wearing jeans with holes on casual Friday, her group’s going to start looking shabby.”
* “If she makes nasty remarks about others in the company she’s not a team player and her team’s not going to respect other departments.”
* “If he makes long personal phone calls from work, his team is going to take that as permission to do the same thing. There goes productivity!”

This can be a hard lesson for new managers to learn. Sometimes newly promoted managers think, “Finally! I can make a personal phone call and not get yelled at for it because I’m now a manager. Or if I’m a few minutes late now, it’s not that big of a deal since I’m no longer punching a time clock.”

A seasoned manager, however, is keenly aware that a poor role model in a manager position has a ripple effect on his group.

The lesson here? It’s all about self-awareness. Operate with the knowledge that you’re “on stage” whenever you’re at work. Although you may have initially imagined that your influence on those you manage would be in the form of delegating and coaching, you also have a substantial “unspoken” influence based on how you conduct yourself on a day to day basis. Think about how you want those on your team to conduct themselves and then, walk the talk.
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