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Are You A Model?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Are you someone who is looking for an opportunity on the red carpet or the central walkway? Or perhaps you long to be on the cover of a magazine? Maybe just one of those magazine ads or TV commercial models? If so, this newsletter is not for you. I know nothing about that type of modeling.

However, if you are a leader, a parent, a manager, a teacher, or a family member, then this newsletter is FOR YOU. YOU ARE A MODEL!

Now, you may not think of yourself as a model, but I will tell you that others - young people, work colleagues, family members - are looking at what you do, how you react, what you say, and how you live, making you a model. Other people look to you, whether you like it or not, to see how you handle yourself in various situations. They look to you as a model of how they might want to handle themselves.

There are some important principles to understand if you are going to be a good, even great, model.

In “The Leadership Challenge,” Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner identify “Modeling the Way” as the first practice of exemplary leaders. As part of modeling the way, you need to develop your leadership voice - who you are and what’s important to you - and identify the values you share with others. So…

Who are you?

What’s important in your life?

What are the things that you will stand by no matter what happens?

When you get in those tough circumstances, those decision-making moments that might separate you from the crowd, what do you stand for?

Is it honesty and truthfulness?

Hard work?



You need to determine what those values are and then live by them, every moment, if you are going to be a model for others.

Your walk-away exercise this month is to determine what are 3-7 values that are really important to you and define who you are. Then start talking about those values with other people in your life, especially those you influence and who look up to you.

My friend John, my mentor and leadership guru John Maxwell, talks about the “Law of the Picture” in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” This law says, “people do what people see.” He says, “leadership is visual, it’s easier to follow an example than to follow words.” We need to understand that people are watching us all the time. They are looking to see if we will live out the words that we speak. Are we practicing “do as I do” or “do as I say?” There could be a big difference depending on the situation and it impacts our credibility as a leader or model for others.

We have to focus on developing ourselves as leaders BEFORE we look to lead others.

Focus on developing your character and credibility first and people will say “what you see is what you get with Jim, he is who he says he is.” That level of credibility will help people decide to follow you.

The corollary law to the Law of the Picture is The Law of Buy-in. Here John says, “people buy into the leader, then the vision.” In other words, you will become a model for others, an exemplary leader, when you can demonstrate the character, competence, and commitment that people will follow. When people buy-in to who you are, they are more likely to buy-in to what you want to do and accomplish. They will jump on board to share in the struggle and challenge that will produce accomplishment.

Before you decide to lead others, or model the way for others, develop yourself.

Build a personal growth plan that is focused on the character and competence you need to excel in your leadership role. Ask some people who know you well, what is the one or two things you could get better at, and then just listen. From the information you gather, determine what resources and what people could help you grow in those areas. Who are the models you could follow?

Finally, leadership is primarily about helping others to grow and achieve.

We should invite others into a relationship that helps them grow. Determine a small group of people that you could pour your wisdom, knowledge and abilities into that could help them develop as leaders and start an intentional growth plan with them through resource sharing, discussion and connections. This helps you to multiply your leadership and influence in a positive way, adding value to others.

These leadership principles apply in every leadership and life situation.

Whether you are leading a family, a group of friends, a multinational corporation, or being a professional runway model, the principles of leadership success are the same:

  1. Determine who you are - what are your most important values? What will you stand by?

  2. Develop your character and credibility - do you do as you say?

  3. Focus on developing yourself first - what are your personal and intentional plans for growth?

  4. Help others - how are you helping others grow?

You are a model! You are a leader! Go be an exemplary leader for others!

Lead on! Jim

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