Julie Tucker
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How to be a great workplace role model

Whatever type of business you’re managing, you become a role model for employees, who are learning from your behaviour. If you want people to look up to you, you must lead by example.

While managerial skills vary, depending on the individual, certain characteristics are vital for team leaders, as well as all team members. Your attitude, values and behaviour set the standard for what you expect from colleagues. Embody respectful behaviour yourself if you want your employees to treat each other with respect.

Every business wants employees to deliver exceptional service, including treating customers the way they deserve to be treated. Almost three-quarters of companies with above-average customer service are performing better financially than their competitors.

It’s your actions as a leader and not the company policies that directly influence the performance of your employees. You have the power to increase morale, inspire healthy competition, motivate employees and open up communication.


Always show the greatest respect for everyone including employees, business contacts, vendors and customers. This one trait must be absolutely paramount in every situation. It is particularly important in situations where you have to correct the behaviour of an employee. Don’t criticise a team member publicly. If there’s an issue, arrange a one-to-one meeting. Always keep your feedback on the issue in hand and focus on finding positive solutions.


Trust must be earned. Just because you’re a manager, it isn’t automatic that you will be trusted. Let your actions show your employees you can be trusted by behaving in an honest, fair and consistent manner. Never engage in gossip and refuse to tolerate it among your staff. Colleagues must realise you have their back. Grab every opportunity to prove this and you will inspire trust over time.

Hard work

Every effective role model works hard and pitches in when their staff need help. They demonstrate a commitment to achieving corporate goals.

As a manager, no task should be beneath you. When no one is available to do a particular job, you must be willing to do it yourself. As well as ensuring all tasks are completed, it demonstrates to employees that an “it’s not my job” mentality isn’t permitted.


A great role model will take responsibility for their actions. This inspires colleagues to do the same. When you make a mistake, don’t try and hide it. Admit the mistake and then tell your team how you will correct the situation. Never blame others or make excuses, as this will encourage a culture of non-accountability.


The business world is notoriously unpredictable. A manager must be prepared to deal effectively with even the most high stress situations. Your employees will be looking to you for guidance and will be watching closely to see how you handle challenges. A manager who gets easily overwhelmed, or over-reacts to a challenging situation, will simply encourage employees to do the same.


A good leader must follow every rule that the employees are expected to follow. Being a manager doesn’t permit you to bend the rules every now and again. This is a bad example to set. You should always be punctual, be productive while at work and follow company policies. This encourages the rest of the team to do the same.


Demonstrating persistence when faced with challenges and obstacles means your team can rely on you when the going gets tough. Never abandon tasks halfway through and expect someone else to clear up after you if times are tough. Approach everything you do with a sense of resolve and ensure you complete every task to the required level.

Consequences of being a poor role model

If you fail to lead by example and become a poor role model, this will directly impact your team in a negative way. Inappropriate behaviour can lead to your employees becoming disengaged. This, in turn, leads to a reduction in productivity and a dysfunctional office, with employees unable to produce the desired outcomes.

Being a role model doesn’t mean all your employees will mirror you identically. It means your behaviour will nurture specific behaviour in others that will become positive workplace habits. As you lead your team, keep in mind the saying, “The example you set is the example you get.”

How does coworking impact being a role model?

Being a workplace role model in a coworking space is particularly important. The office is filled with diverse groups of remote workers, freelancers and other independent professionals who are working side-by-side in a shared, communal space.

This means everyone is aware of their colleagues’ actions on a daily basis. Someone who isn’t behaving in an appropriate manner will have a reputation as setting a poor example to others and potentially upsetting the close sense of community that co-workers develop. People who use coworking spaces generally view their work as meaningful.

According to surveys, on a scale of one to seven, co-workers rate their opportunity to thrive as a six. One of the factors influencing this belief comes from working in a culture where it’s the norm to help each other out. The ethos of “it’s not my job” is one that rarely appears in coworking spaces. The co-workers each have unique skillsets and will help other community members when needed.

Connections with other like-minded people are a big attraction of coworking spaces, as opposed to working from home. Being in a community where everyone has a “can do” attitude means everyone is a role model. This, in turn, inspires others to always do their best, so they won’t “let the side down”.


© Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

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