How to Be a Role Model and Become a Leader
By Guest Blogger: Danielle Cecconi
Alumni & Student Relations Marketing Coordinator Intern
I recently attended a workshop presented by Chris Simmons, Managing Partner, of PriceWaterhouseCooper, Washington, DC Region. Chris was born in Tennessee and came from a poor family. He didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the world, but had a thirst for life. He learned how to navigate in life by keeping his eyes and ears open. It was inspiring to hear about all the lessons he learned and how he used them to succeed.
Lesson # 1 – Study the Role Models
Read about and study people who had great success. What have they done and how did they do it? There is always something you can learn and apply to your life. Chris studied people such as President Obama and is currently reading about and studying ex-president Bill Clinton.
After I left the workshop, I started to look for a role model to study a public figure that I can relate to and use his/her steps to success as an example. The names Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, and Meg Whitman, Former President and CEO of Ebay, came in mind. They are two of the 50 most successful women in business.
Lesson # 2 – Embrace the “Other Thing”
Study deeply to gain knowledge about the “other thing.” Whatever the “other thing” is for you; make sure you know everything about it.
I want to start my own candy business. Reaching out to Blackstone Launchpad was the first step toward learning everything about my “other thing.” I know everything about my candies, but I know nothing about being an entrepreneur. Blackstone LaunchPad provides free mentoring services to current students, faculty/staff, and degreed alumni. View the video below for an overview of the Blackstone LaunchPad program. They are helping me to gain knowledge about my “other thing.”
Lesson # 3 – Be Good to Other People
By being good to other people, you give them the justification to like and help you. Don’t underestimate the value of this simple act of kindness and respect. Danny Thomas once said “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others.”
Last semester on finals week, as an Alumni & Student relations coordinator, I went around campus giving out candy bars to students as they studied. I did it because I like to see people happy and wanted to support the students during this very stressful time. They were all very thankful for the thoughtful recognition. This is the start to creating positive relationships between me and the students, letting them know that I care.
Lesson # 4 – Learn About the Good in Other People
Always look for the good in other people. Everyone has at least one good quality. Tell others about this quality. It will demonstrate and give them the feeling that you can and want to support them in their daily work. They will recognize it and will think of you as a leader.
As one of the International Student Organization (ISO) board members, I had the opportunity to see all the members’ qualities and what they have to contribute to the group. Understanding each member's strengths will help me determine which member is best-suited for each position when I cast my vote. In addition to that, I can endorse their qualities to others.
Lesson # 5 – Create “Moments”
You have to have “moments” with the people around you, especially in your company; don’t just do your job. Have some laughs with your co-workers, ask about their weekend, and show that you are interested in their life. Plant seeds along the way and you will always have something to talk about – but make sure you are listening.
I always say something that it is not related to work during office hours. As an example, I usually ask my manager what she is doing on the weekend. If she says her son has a soccer game Saturday, I’ll make sure to ask her on Monday, “How was your son’s soccer game? Did he have fun?”
Lesson # 6 – Have Your Boss’s Back
Create the feeling that you have your boss’s back and best interest at heart. Whenever your boss needs you, or asks you for a favor, show that you have it covered, and are capable of supporting their efforts.
Whenever my manager asks me to do something for her, I don’t think twice. “I got it,”“I’ll do it,” “Yes,” and “No problem,” are answers I use often. I not only do my job, I also come up with suggestions, and we brainstorm ideas. I bring solutions to the problems I find, in order to improve our services. This shows her that I am capable and one day I also can be a leader.
Lesson # 7 – Stand Out
Dress appropriately and make sure you are in the same “zip code” as your boss, and know which audience your efforts should address. Be patient, smart and don’t commit ‘social suicide’ acts, such as getting too 'loose' at a party or letting the feeling of power go to your head.
If you work in an agency, the dress code might be different than if you work in a bank. In case you are not sure how to dress, just pay attention to the leadership around you. People will appreciate you, and relate to you more. At work I always dress professionally for the leadership position I want instead of the intern position that I have. People look at me with more respect and often compliment me on how I dress. It makes me feel like I am on the right track and I also leave a good impression.
Lesson # 8 – The Beer Test
You have to pass the beer test! Combine all the previous lessons earnestly and you will pass. In the end, it's all about being the person that others would enjoy sharing a moment with and having a beer.
The Happy Hours and Networking events are a perfect place to take your beer test. After-hour get-togethers are where colleagues can best get to know each other, share their personal stories, and create the “moments” described in Lesson #5.
Can you past the Beer Test? How are you being a role model? What do you look for in a role model? Share your thoughts below.
Danielle Cecconi with Chris Simmons at ALPFA workshop.