The term role model is usually positive and is defined as someone who can be emulated by others. I think of the leaders in my personal and professional life who have shaped my development, and for whom I now attempt to emulate. A lofty goal, but one I am comfortable striving to achieve.
BEING A ROLE MODEL IS DIFFICULT
I often use the term when referring to expectations I have of leaders in the organizations I've worked, of world leaders, and of myself as a Human Resources executive, father, and youth hockey coach. But what about the role models that transcend our understanding of leadership? How do we reconcile in our minds that some leaders go far beyond the quick wit and Type A personalities we may have, and lead in ways we can not fathom, let alone dare to emulate?
Quite honestly I hope I never have to wrestle with the choice he finally made. Although safe in the United States, he returned to Nazi Germany, he took action, because that was the only way he knew how to lead. His decision cost him his life when the Nazis murdered him. Emulate Dietrich? Impossible, right?
DO NOT DISMISS TOO QUICKLY
Some times when we are confronted with an example on an epic scale, such as Dietrich's, we dismiss our potential connection, and failings, before we even take the time to consider our options. What possible options might we have? Simple. We can choose to take action even when we know it is going to be much more difficult than doing nothing. Action. It's a great word. Have you ever heard anyone say, "I wish I hadn't tried to make a difference?" Rarely, if ever. It is always better to try and do the right thing.
ARE WE ALL SUPPOSED TO BE DIETRICH?
No, weren't not. It's not fair to us, or for that matter, to Dietrich. He was an extraordinary man living in the most horrific of situations. Most of us are working in environments that do not come close to the dangers he faced. But we can still decide to make a difference. We can still decide to take action. We can still lead.
HOW ABOUT YOU
Who are the role models in your life? Who is that special person that stands out above all others? Who do you try to emulate?
I'd love to hear from you.
Pic of Dietrich Bonhoeffer courtesy of http://www.bonhoeffer-gesellschaft.de/