Monkey See, Monkey Do: Leading by Example

role-modelEarly in our lives, we find ourselves following in other people’s footsteps. We shape our decisions based on those made by the people around us, and most of our values and morals stem from the thoughts and opinions of our loved ones. But what makes some people more adept to becoming role models than others?

 Although there isn’t an official guidebook on how to become a good example for other people, there are several important details to keep in mind if becoming an admirable role model is your goal.

There is a very long list of qualities that any good role model should embody, but perhaps the most important characteristic is being responsible. Although a person of any age can have a role model, children that are much younger are the ones who normally do.

Young children are easily influenced, so it is crucial to act in a way that would not inappropriately rub off on a child. Older siblings are the ones who usually fill the role model position in most kids’ lives, and Jillian McLaughlin, a freshman at the University, knows what it’s like to have to set a good example.

With a 10-year-old sister and a 15-year old brother, Jillian feels that it is important to live a life full of positivity so that she can be a positive influence not only in her own life, but in her siblings’ as well. “It is extremely important to set a good example because I have to teach them how to be when they’re older. I want to see them do well and go down the right path,” McLaughlin explained.

Aside from someone who is able to set the proper standard for those who look up to them, role models should be understanding as well.

Jean Judge, the Associate Dean for Support Services and Articulation at the University, explained that role models should be able to empathize with people, but also encourage them at the same time, “particularly if you get discouraged or confused,” Judge said. “They have to encourage you to pick yourself up, even if you’re afraid to do something, and continue with it.”

Not only is it crucial for role models to be supportive of those who think highly of them, but it is also important to acknowledge those boys and girls who look up to them.

Jean-Marie Delao, a Student Development Counselor at the University, said, “From the perspective of an advisor, it’s important to be responsive.” Delao explained that even a simple reply to an email is an important aspect of being a good role model in terms of advising because it shows that a person genuinely cares and that they can be counted on.

Also according to Delao, “A good role model helps you discover things about yourself.” When a person has so much influence over someone else, their decisions and ways of life can greatly affect others. As a role model, those who look up to a person will try to model their lives after some of the decisions that they have made.

 It is through this trial and error process that these people will come to find themselves. By being an influential factor in their lives, a role model will have helped someone learn new things about themselves that they most likely never would have discovered otherwise.

Defined in the Miriam-Webster Dictionary as “A person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others,” a role model is someone who needs to lead by example.

It is important for those with younger siblings or family members, as well as those who hold important positions such as advisors or orientation leaders, to remember how much of an honor it is to be someone’s role model. Those who look up to you will never forget all of the things that you’ve taught them, whether you had ever realized it or not. As Judge said, “I don’t think you can ever outgrow a role model.”

IMAGE TAKEN from aps.edu