Role Models Based On Credibility Stand Out

All the rest just have big egos.

Manufacturing industries have more role models than they need. Models of every description, of every persuasion, and for every occasion. Some are downsizers and some are upsizers. Some are merger-makers and some are merger-forsakers. Some are top-down drivers and some are bottom-up strivers. Some are movers and others are shakers. Role model status means that executives have attained celebrity status. Their faults can now be excused as eccentricities. Their successes are triumphs. Their failures are great ideas ahead of their time. I'm thinking about writing a book about role models. The working title: Corporate Role Models: Who Needs Them?. My book will take the position that role models are made, not born. They are mostly common executives blessed with uncommonly good fortune. They happened to be in the right place at the right time. They happened to be the beneficiaries of the right people making the right decisions about what their companies should make, sell, say, or do. Leadership experts James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, in their book Credibility (1995, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco), identify credibility as the key criterion most role models. Their finding is based on a survey of 15,000 respondents, 400 case studies, and 40 in-depth interviews. They see leadership as a relationship between leaders and followers, with credibility as the glue. They reveal six key disciplines and related practices that strengthen a leader's capacity for developing and sustaining credibility:

  1. Discover yourself.
  2. Appreciate your constituents and their diversity.
  3. Affirm shared values.
  4. Liberate the leadership in everyone.
  5. Be first among equals.
  6. Take charge. Show the courage of your convictions.
What I liked best in this book was the chapter that talked about "liberating the leader in everyone." It debunks as myth the idea that leadership is a function of position. They describe leadership as being "a set of skills and practices that can be learned regardless of whether one is in a formal management position. Leadership is found in the boiler room as well as in the board room. It is not conferred by title or degree." After reading Credibility, I decided to write my own guidelines for those who would be role models, recognizing that a big ego is the biggest obstacle for most of us:
  1. Don't make the mistake of using yourself as your model.
  2. Love yourself a little less than you deserve.
  3. Don't suffer from "I" strain.
  4. Don't brag about yourself unless you are modest about it.
  5. Don't let your body fat go to your head.
  6. Don't act like you know everything. It irritates those who do.
  7. Don't bow when you see yourself in the mirror.
If nothing else, ego reengineering and ego-downsizing can make a good chief executive out of a bad role model.
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