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The Influence of the Role Model Leader

Valuing employees is not just the right way to lead, it is the very soul of the organization.

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This guest commentary was written by Dr. John A Passante, President & CEO, The Organizational Development Group Inc. Author, “The Human Side: High Touch Leadership in a High-Tech World” And Dr. Thomas Litzinger, Fleet Relationship Manager, Belle Tire Distribution Inc.

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Each of us takes the time to reflect on the leaders who impacted our careers, and in many cases our lives. They opened the window of opportunity, guided us, mentored and unlocked our potential. In many regards, they were our “teacher” and encouraged us to never stop learning, to truly value and forge relationships, as well as the ability to forgive mistakes and to quickly provide supportive and professional, candid feedback.

A role model stays the course, shows internal courage, and weathers the storm of an ever-changing automotive aftermarket, business environment, and world. A living example of leadership, resilience, a dealer of hope, positive attitude, and intelligent action showing us the way.

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The characteristics of the role model leader are:

  • Integrity
  • Optimism
  • Persistence
  • Vision
  • Dedication
  • Drive
  • Respect
  • Focus
  • Action-oriented

 The leader who brings out the best in each of us is a motivator! They inspire us through their words, praise, positive reinforcement, and by playing to our strengths. The fact is, we all yearn for success and true leaders show us the way.

A visionary leader sees the potential in an individual and a group, with the ability to communicate the goal and to make the goal a reality, coupled with a heavy dose of persistence. They attack issues, not people! At all times they demonstrate authenticity, admit mistakes and seize opportunities for improvement. They are comfortable in their own skin, are human, and endorse a company culture of inclusion, equity and meaningful work as well as career development. Valuing employees is not just the right way to lead, it is the very soul of the organization.

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Role model leaders are indeed human. Making difficult decisions and being human are not mutually exclusive. Facing hard decisions is oftentimes the most human thing we do. Being a good person and a role model helps us grow in real-world wisdom and compassion. The Golden Rule is still in style. Live each day with a positive intention to support and help others. The impact of nurturing employee wellness and productivity is striking. There is a strong desire to motivate, listen, learn and lead. Give people room to be creative and develop.

What lessons has “The Great Resignation” taught us? Employees seek to connect to a shared mission. Purpose drives purpose. Employees today have much lower tolerance for dysfunctional or tedious work environments. Employee job satisfaction is a must and increases employee retention, which results in a competitive advantage. It is time to bring interaction back into the equation. Remember the song: “People who need people are the happiest people in the world?” Employers that drive employee engagement will be winners. Role model leaders build people and organizations.

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Over the years and throughout our careers, many of us had managers who influenced us in a positive or negative way. I purposely used the word manager rather than leader due to the connotation of my opening statement. Most of us understand the difference between a manager and a leader, and it is not my intention to distinguish between the two. My desire is to encourage you to picture in your mind the leader who has influenced you the most and helped you develop your personal and professional skills. For most of us, someone from our past or current position enters our mind immediately. This is most likely the person we identify as “where would I be without them?” Now that we have identified the individual/leader who influenced us for good, think back to how that individual impacted your career as a positive role model. Was the individual an industry expert, a great orator, an excellent motivator, a charismatic personality, or someone who shared their passion for your business and invested in you in a meaningful way?

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We also need to identify the manager who impacted us in a negative way and the characteristics and traits exhibited in forming the leader we are today. As motivational and inspirational leaders, we are called to care for our team by displaying positive attributes and becoming a positive role model. Think about the individual who motivated us to achieve greatness. Are we being that person for our team? Are we investing in our team by identifying positive characteristics and encouraging them to achieve their personal and professional goals and objectives? This is not an easy task, becoming a positive role model requires dedication and commitment on our part. It requires communicating with our team and discovering their dreams and aspirations. Each member on our team is unique and requires special attention on getting to know them personally.

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The value of the leader who desires to be an effective role model cannot be understated. Every aspect of our business is touched by the role model who fosters open, honest, and transparent communication. Communication promotes a safe environment and engenders a healthy morale. Healthy morale increases productivity and team member engagement that leads to retention, loyalty, and efficiencies. Moreover, the positive role model successfully advances the next generation of positive role models who continue the rich tradition. Teamwork, collaboration, and innovation are encouraged and cultivated by the positive role model, making our organization a great place to learn and grow.

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As we strive to commit ourselves to developing the next generation of industry leaders, let us be reminded of the leader in our life who was a positive role model and dedicate ourselves to becoming a positive role model for our team by demonstrating honesty, integrity, and character.

Perhaps in the past, employees were in many cases taken for granted. The past two years have taught us the importance of the human side of the automotive aftermarket. Technology cannot replace the minds and hearts of our employees. Employees working in harmony open the gates of innovation, collaboration, and true teamwork!

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Are you a role model leader?

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