The Role Model Manager

Managers should create a mental role model and strive to make it a part of their behavior, creating the perception of a perfect role model that every employee wants to emulate.

The role model manager may not be a real person. Your true personality may be different than the one presented. If you perceive that as “pretending” or “acting”, it is. Offering the world a model portrait of your professional position serves a valuable purpose.

Mental Baggage

People will experience frustrations in the workplace. It is impossible to satisfy everyone’s needs all the time. Once a need is unfulfilled and the possibility for satisfaction is gone, the mind stores that frustration in a very special place — mental baggage.

The desire to fulfill that need may turn into an obsession for fulfillment. When that need goes unresolved it’s usually because the person or situation creating that baggage is no longer available to resolve the issue.

As a result, you may be subconsciously accused of offensive behavior that was committed by someone else (e.g., “You never pay any attention to what I say”).

This happens when people try to determine if someone in their present resembles a figure from there past — “Are you going to be the way so-and-so was or will you be different?”

The worker may demonstrate behaviors that range anywhere from a need to be praised to a series of demands for indulgence, special considerations and almost limitless leniency on the part of the manager.

There is probably little you can do to keep this person motivated. The best approach will normally be to terminate the relationship.

His or her need to resolve old baggage will grind down any relationship you may have created an environment of confusion, anxiety, and disorderliness.

Therefore, we will focus our attention on the person whose mental baggage has not reached the level of obsession.

Role Model Characteristics

An effective manager does not have to be perceived as brilliant, charismatic, skilled in the performance of Tactical Work, Knowledgeable in all areas related to the application, perfect or anything else of that sort. The following behaviors are what constitute the Model Manager.


You have to be perceived as an “emotional rock,” a pillar of calmness in the middle of chaos. Understand, you may have absolutely no solution to the conditions that may have disturbed the group producing their anxiety; all you need to be is calm and reassuring. Employees will take their cues from you. Should you become rattled, they will lose confidence, not only in you but also in themselves. Since most people perceive themselves as incapable of coping without guidance and support, they may not assert a steadying hand to fill the void. Quite the opposite, they would reflect your anxiety in their behavior making the situation even worse. Your calmness will assure them that everything is all right, affording them the stability to survive the crisis.


You must be fair to a fault. The perception of preferential treatment will eventually erode the foundation of any team.


We are habit-forming beings who thrive on routine. Unless our world is predictable, we may become dysfunctional. Employees must always be able to rely on your reactions to situations. If something pleases you today, it should please you tomorrow; what makes you unhappy should always be unacceptable. Erratic behavior will keep employees off balance because they never quite know from day-to-day how they will be perceived or what reactions their behavior will draw. Employees will adjust to an unpredictable leader by becoming passive and compliant. Instead of being committed to results, they may attempt to humor the manager’s unconventional behavior. The main objective of their careers will be “to keep the boss off my back.” They “turn political.” More worried about the manager’s reactions than about what is accomplished. They become skilled at avoiding their managers displeasure, and only highly filtered information will be communicated upward; mistakes will be concealed; blame is continuously transferred to others; any interaction with the manager will be avoided at all costs, and they will begin to agree with judgments even if they consider them faulty, thereby withholding valuable input that could have a major impact on success.


Employees need to perceive you as honest to the extent of not lying to them even though they realize that certain kinds of information must be withheld. There are “state secrets”. Statements you do make should be considered sincere and reliable.


Accountability leads to a perception of the manager being protective of employees because it holds the manager solely accountable for the group’s performance. For that reason, the manager should never transfer blame to his or her employee for inadequate results — as the person who is in command, you “take the lumps” on behalf of the team. By doing so, you will establish yourself as a buffer between your people and the outside world.


You must be perceived as an endlessly patient. You should never react angrily when employees make honest mistakes; that is, mistakes that are not the result of a poor attitude.

Willingness to listen

Employees need to feel that they are truly listening in a non-judgmental way.


Managers need to be immovable when they believe their position is valid. As a manager, you inform people of the limits beyond which they may not go. In so doing you actually supply your employee with a sense of security because you give them evidence that someone strong is in command at all times, someone who is caring & fair but definitely not a “pushover” if discipline is required.

To paraphrase an age-old cliché, the ideal manager is ” fair, but firm.”

The relationship between a manager and employee is complex with a number of different aspects. You must adopt a variety of roles that include those of adviser, friend, parent and whatever else the employee needs you to be at any particular moment.

Role Model Behaviors

Teaching by example” may be a shopworn phrase, but it has stood the test of time. It’s meaning is simple: You make the greatest impact by virtue of your actions, not your words. In a managerial context, no matter how often or sincerely you urge your employees to be attentive in their relations with customers; they will only begin to manifest the desired behavior when you demonstrate your willingness to do it.

If you have the typical manager’s perception, you may underestimate the emotional impact you have on your employees, believing instead that they are immune to the messages you send. People you manage may emulate you to the point of becoming almost carbon copies because they look to you for guidance in handling the daily problems of business. They may adopt your jargon, imitate your style of dress, and assume the same attitudes toward customers as you have and so on — and all without ever making a conscious decision to do so. If you are going to have that kind of effect on people, it would serve you well to assure yourself that the impact is what you want it to be.


As your people witness your composed approach to problems and emergencies, they will begin to internalize the lesson that they shouldn’t become rattled when the pressure is on.

Commitment to Improvement

By your example, teach your people to strive for better ways to get things done while implementing current processes and policies. Basically, abide by what has already been developed with a consistent effort for improvement.

Desire for Learning

By remaining open-minded and seeking knowledge wherever you can find it, you will convey the message that they should always be willing to place themselves in the posture of the students, just as you are. The search for knowledge keeps the mind alert and active, often resulting in innovations from members of your group.


It is one thing to be rational; it is quite another to be reasonable. To be rational is to rigidly impose the rules of formal Logic upon life and all human behavior. Remember, the purpose of your public example is to give your people something to emulate.

Thoroughness and Persistence

A half-hearted and shallow approach to accountabilities will spoil the results of your group. Through your own actions, you must demonstrate a persistent implementation of systems and policies, the dissatisfaction with compromised results, and the refusal to gloss over serious problems.


Business brings its share of disappointments, frustrations and outright disasters into the lives of the people. Rather than naively hoping that nothing bad will ever happen, employees should be prepared to bounce back from the setbacks of business no matter how bad they may seem to be at the time.

Basic Loyalty

Employees should perceive that their future is closely tied to the future of the company: A common destiny: The link between the person and that destiny you. You play a role in embodying the spirit and the future of the company and should demonstrate basic loyalty to the firm.

Employees do not work for their companies, but for their managers. That is where the bonds are formed. The company becomes a reflection of the manager. How an employee feels about the company is a reflection of how he or she feels about you.

No Cynicism in the workplace!

Cynics are tragic people whose self-perception is so bad that they cannot begin to imagine a world where optimism, dreaming, commitment to something greater than oneself and the desire to do something truly remarkable could possibly exist. Always “looking for the angle,” they can trust no one because they can’t even trust themselves

Cynicism, distrust, sarcasm, suspicion, skepticism, doubt, scorn and backbiting are unacceptable behaviors that have NO PLACE IN THE WORKPLACE! When these terrible, vile behaviors are observed, get rid of the behavior immediately by whatever means necessary!

Be careful about how you express frustrations to employees. How you actually feel about any situation is not the issue. The issue is how your reactions are perceived: Your reactions or perceived reactions will “set the mood” for the entire team. Be responsible.

Employees have an emotional need to be managed by someone perceived as better than they are so they might have a model to emulate in addressing daily problems. The act of simply being you may not be enough. Perception is the reality.