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This month, here are two questions for you to consider:

1. Who are your role models — the people you respect and look up to — and why?  What is it about them that is admirable? What are their traits that you should emulate?

2. Who are a role model for? What is it about you that they admire, respect and might emulate? What do you do to enhance and encourage that kind of behavior in those who respect you?

How to you control your ego and always be mindful that this about them – not you.

I was introduced to a woman recently who said she was a long-time fan of our newspaper. She said she looked forward to my columns, editorials and stories each week. Then she said so that everyone in the group heard it, “You are a legend.” To say an aging editor isn’t used to such flattery is an understatement. But it did make me feel good. It reminded me that for a tiny minority who may think me a legend, hundreds more don’t. Millions have never even heard of me or you or most everyone you know. Bear that in mind.

It is treacherous to let our egos take such flattery to heart. It can be self-inflating. Make us self-important. Humility is and always will be the best policy. Being too full of yourself leads to being full of you know what.

My own role models

Consider me fortunate. On our staff are several role models for me and our colleagues. One is an older woman who has more brains in her finger tips than there are in my entire head. We have been business partners for 35 years and marriage partners even longer. Two are a much younger men who are farther advanced as editors and reporters than I was at their age. One is a single mom who has found ways to balance the demands of being a bread winner and mother of two.

That is no small task, you will undoubtedly agree. Being a mom could be a full-time job. This single mom was well prepared for the role. Her training started at age 12. Her own mother was diagnosed with not one but two crippling afflictions. She took on most of her mother’s responsibilities for their home, her mom and younger sister, she rose hours early to get mom and her sister up, prepare breakfast and lunch and head off to school.

She came home to care for both, make dinner, do homework, clean house and finally to bed. She got by on six or less hours sleep a night and took charge of whatever was needed. She looks back on it now not as a hardship but a gift. It prepared her for the uncertainties of life.

These include a demanding job, two bright daughters and an ex- who often fails to pay his share of costs. How she does it is amazing to watch. She has taught me a great deal about self-discipline and time managing. 

9 steps for role models

All of us in positions of authority and influence are role models, like it or not. Our actions and reactions are constantly on display. Never forget that you are being watched.

In his book, “Follow Your Conscience” Frank Sonnenberg warns us not to think too highly of ourselves. Confidence in yourself and your decisions are important. But don’t ever think you can walk on water.

If you are a parent, teacher, coach or manager, you influence those around you every day.

1. Make a positive impression.

Sonnenberg advises us to set the bar high for ourselves and our teammates. Have high expectations of all of you. Don’t settle for just average or mediocre.

2. Inspire others. 

When you’re a role model, every message you send is critical.  For example, people will notice whether or not you:

• Value a good education and share your knowledge with those who need and want ti.

• Have good relations with your spouse, children and friends.

• Work well under pressure and if you’re confident enough to admit fault. 

Don’t wait for the stars to align to demonstrate good behavior. Deliver your message every day in small ways.

3. Check your mirror. 

Are you sending the right messages? Cheating has become a substitute for hard work. Have you become ruthless to get ahead?

Is life is about stuff, not people? Are relations disposable? Is winning the only thing that matters?

4. Stand for what you believe in.

Good role models are fair. They have the strength of their convictions. They believe what they say and say what they believe.  Mark Twain may have said it best: “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

5. Walk the talk. 

Ensure that your words and actions are consistent. Integrity matters. Good role models are open, honest, and trustworthy. 

Make sure to finish what you start and follow through on commitments.

6. Be respectful. 

Treat others as you want to be treated.

7. Believe in yourself. 

Be confident in who you are and what you represent.  Balance that confidence with a lot of humility.

8. Hold yourself and others accountable. 

Don’t tolerate bad behavior. Speak up against abuses. If you don’t condemn poor behavior, then you’re a co-conspirator. Life isn’t a spectator sport.

Nobody’s perfect. Accept responsibility for your actions.  When you make a mistake, admit fault and show you mean it by taking corrective action.

You’re judged by the company you keep. Surround yourself with people of high character and integrity. They rub off on you and provide extra encouragement when the stakes are high or the going gets tough.

9. Listen to your conscience. That’s why you have one.

Your Leadership Challenge

1. How can you improve the example that you set and the leadership lessons you teach your team?

2. How can you recruit, hire and develop top talent and leaders to keep your organization sustainable?

3. What must you work on today as well as your vision for the year?

April Takeaway Thought. To develop your leadership team, take advantage of a complimentary three weeks of my affordable 18-week “Advanced Leadership & Management” eCourse. You can use it each week as a discussion guide with your leadership team. Offer good for 30 days. Email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Jerry Bellune and his family own and operate online and print book, magazine, newspaper and newsletter publishing companies in Lexington. Write him for details on leadership coaching.

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