Leaders as Role Models

12. May 2021

This article is more than one year old

Leaders can stimulate or undermine organizational performance through their influence on staff values and attitudes.

Human beings are social animals who define our identities through relationships with each other. Our need for belonging makes us keen to assimilate into the groups we are part of.

One way we may do this in a work environment is by incorporating the values and attitudes of our leaders into our own identities. Leaders thus act as role models: They lead, we follow.

In a new study, we test the extent to which this happens by looking at turnover in top leadership positions. Do such shifts in leadership cause shifts in the attitudes of staff members?

Based on data from 162 employees in the European Commission (EC) – who we observe before and after changes of their political and administrative leaders – the short answer is “yes”.

For example, when people get a new leader who comes from a more EU-critical country than their outgoing leader, they start to incorporate this less positive position about the EU and the EC’s role into their own attitudes.

This is particularly important because staff attitudes are a key driver of individual and organizational performance. Our findings thus suggest that leaders can stimulate or undermine organizational performance just through their influence on staff attitudes.

Leader selection

This has immediate implications for leader selection strategies. Organizations should pay close attention to the backgrounds and attitudes of leadership candidates, including how they relate to those of the organization and outgoing leaders.

When deciding on leadership transitions, it may be beneficial for organizations to emphasize the positive differences between incoming and outgoing leaders. For instance, whether the new leader embodies desirable organizational attitudes. We often see this happen when football managers are replaced by someone who is believed to embody a more desirable type of play.

Similarly, downplaying a new leaders’ opinions when these are at odds with key organizational values will be useful to mitigate their influence on staff attitudes. Being from a more EU-critical country, for instance, can be offset by stressing a new leader’s previous career successes or strong experience in a particularly relevant policy domain.

Source: Geys, B., Connolly, S., Kassim, H. and Murdoch, Z. (2020), Follow the Leader? Leader Succession and Staff Attitudes in Public Sector Organizations. Public Administration Review, 80: 555-564. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13189

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Mentors, Leaders, and Role Models: Same or Different? : Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

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Mentors, Leaders, and Role Models: Same or Different?

Rohrich, Rod J. M.D.; Durand, Paul D. M.D.

Dallas, Texas; and Coral Gables, Fla.

From the Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute and Careaga Plastic Surgery.

Received for publication July 8, 2019; accepted July 31, 2019.

Disclosure: Dr. Rohrich receives instrument royalties from Eriem Surgical, Inc., and book royalties from Thieme Medical Publishing; he is a Clinical and Research Study Expert for Allergan, Inc., Galderma, and MTF Biologics; Medical Monitor for Merz North America; and the owner of Medical Seminars of Texas, LLC. No funding was received for this article. Dr. Durand has no financial interests to declare in relation to the content of this article .

Rod J. Rohrich, M.D., Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute, 9101 North Central Expressway, Suite 600, Dallas, Texas 75231, [email protected] , Twitter: @DrRodRohrich, Instagram: @Rod.Rohrich

Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.

The terms mentor, leader, and role models are often used interchangeably. Although similar in several aspects, there are significant differences among them. To clarify and understand this better, we reviewed how one of our nation’s most respected organizations and one deeply rooted in a structured training model approaches these terms.

The U.S. Army Field Manual defines leadership as “the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.” Mentorship, in contrast, is “the voluntary developmental relationship that exists between a person with greater experience and one with lesser experience, characterized by mutual trust and respect.” 1 A role model, in contrast is someone whose behavior or specific traits are admired enough to be emulated. A classic example is Ben Franklin for business and Abraham Lincoln for leadership and life role-modeling ( Fig. 1 ).


True leaders can have a complementary role being a group mentor or role model at times, but most importantly they must have the unique selfless trait of motivating an organization or a group of people with a diverse background to advance a common role or function. This, unsurprisingly, is a far more complex role. Having been a leader of a large organization, a journal, a large department, and a large academic institution, I have learned that this requires a significant understanding of group dynamics in addition to how individuals interact. This requires compromise, empathy, passion, and focus with a lot of personal interaction to reach the outcomes or goals that may be good for all long term, although not necessarily short term. In other words, often not everyone is entirely happy with the direction initially, and it must be seen as a proper and fair measure for the group.

The key difference between leadership and mentorship is that in the former a single person motivates a group, whereas the latter involves a much more personalized mutual interaction between two people. It is not rare for one’s mentor to be considered a leader in his or her field. Although not always the case, the mentor typically has a greater knowledge base or experience than the mentee. I believe that mentors and mentorship are a powerful tool in the total life success of an individual and that we do not do as much as we should to encourage mentorship of others both in life and in plastic surgery. After all, so much can be learned from proper spontaneous or channeled mentorships to build future leaders and future experts and innovators in our specialty and in life as well. For example, my plastic surgery mentors have included people such as Drs. Reed Dingman, Jim May, and Jack Gunter. All were not seeking to be mentors but lived lives that I wanted to emulate in several aspects and areas.

Mentorship is key to one’s personal and professional development. Mentors provide advice, guidance, and support, fostering qualities that enable a successful and fruitful career but also have a significant effect in an individual’s personal growth. It is for this reason that we often need multiple mentors. We might admire someone’s professional development but disagree with how they maintain other areas of their life. However, even in cases of disagreement, mutual respect continues to be needed as a crucial part of any successful mentoring relationship. Without this, the transmission of knowledge and values between the mentor and mentee becomes severely hindered or impossible. 2–5

The effect that mentorship can have on an individual’s personal and professional life can be profound. Numerous studies have shown such positive effect; marriages last longer, careers become more rewarding, and ex-convicts stay out of prison. Educational institutions and medical training programs have become aware of this and changed curricula to better incorporate mentoring relationships. Some training programs have gone as far as making it a formal requirement. Unsurprisingly, many challenges have been noted when trying to implement such changes. In many instances, trainees are often assigned a “mentor” the first few weeks of their training. I have not found that to be effective, as one needs to match an individual’s personality and goals with the proper mentor, something that cannot be done in a vacuum environment. The question is how many of these relationships last and whether this is the most effective way to do it. 3

Where are mentors found and how do these relationships occur? Although there are many answers to this question, it is not uncommon for mentoring relationships to result when they were least expected. Mentorship cannot be forced. This is somewhat different from leadership, which can, to a certain extent, be imposed on an individual or group of individuals. The most successful mentorship (and leadership) often occurs without trying. It is impossible to simplify the complexity of a mentoring relationship (or that of any interpersonal relationship) down to a few components. Nonetheless, there are ways to maximize the chances of finding a mentor and maintaining such connection.

Successful marriages and business partnerships are not any different from mentoring relationships; they are not just about finding the right person but also about being able to support that connection. Mentorship can have and should have ups and downs like anything else in life, and it is sometimes because of those challenging moments that true life-long mentorships really flourish. 2 , 3


So how do role models differ from mentors? A role model is one who is emulated and may often be someone you do not have a relationship with directly. This is why it is not uncommon for someone’s role model to be a figure in history or one whom they have never met. This is in contrast with mentorship, which is an active process that supports and allows for the growth and development of the mentee. Neither one has to be a leader, but they often are. War hero General George Patton was a leader that exhibited tremendous mentorship and role modeling for his troops.

There are not perfect mentors or role models, but you need to harness those aspects that will fit into your life, your personality, and your inherent life goals. How do you do that? First and foremost, you need to decide early in your career what are your professional and what are your life goals, and then pursue them. I am a firm believer that to be the best in what you want to do in life, you need to train and learn from the best, not only in life, but in plastic surgery. Jack Gunter influenced my life in the area of rhinoplasty like no other. He did this in a significant manner by his intensity and focus and on never being satisfied with his outcomes. He was always seeking new ways to improve his already excellent results. My life role models differ and include people such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for their tremendous focus in addition to persistency and tenacity to succeed despite great adversity. Leaders, mentors, and role models are not born; they are made from focus and dedication to be the best in whatever they decide to do. They also change and diversify throughout your entire life.

Why is this important in your life? Why am I doing this? I firmly believe all of us need guidance, both spiritual, emotional, and otherwise throughout our life to keep us focused, keep us strong and resilient. More importantly, this guidance is what keeps us passionate and not so self-centered as we give back. It allows as to make not only our lives but also the lives of all those around us better—to truly become and fulfill the human experience of giving back! Who are the life role models, mentors, and leaders that you respect? If you don’t have any, it is time to find some, as it will be transformational in a very positive way.

Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating.

—John Wooden

Be the role model you needed when you were younger.

83 Role Model Topics & Examples

If you wish to explore the qualities of a person you admire or talk about a celebrity, check these role model essay examples and original topics prepared by our team .

🤫 Secrets of Powerful Role Model Essays

🏆 best role model topics & essay examples, 📌 most interesting role models to write about, 👍 good role model topics for research, ❓ role model questions, 💯 free role model essay topic generator.

How can one define a role model? Who are the role models in today’s society? Role model essays serve the purpose of answering these questions. These assignments can help students to understand the meaning of role models better.

It is not hard to write a good role model essay, but you should know some secrets of making your paper powerful. Before we discuss some useful tips, you can select a problem for your research. Here are some essay topics and titles we can suggest:

Remember that you can also ask your professor to provide role model essay examples, if possible. Once you have selected a topic for your paper, you can start working on the essay. Here are some secrets of creating a powerful essay:

Think of the issue you want to discuss (you can select one from our examples) and do preliminary research on it. Although the topic of a role model may not seem hard, it is best to learn as much about it as you can.

Ask your professors about the sources you can use. In general, scholarly sources and peer-reviewed articles are the most important sources of information.

Develop a role model essay outline. Your paper should be well-organized to keep the reader’s interest. Make separate sections for the most significant arguments and remember to include an introductory paragraph and a conclusion.

Your introduction should present the problem you are discussing. Include a thesis statement at the end of the paragraph. A thesis can look like this:

Do not forget that we also have some free paper samples that will provide you with ideas for your essay!

IvyPanda. (2023, January 30). 83 Role Model Topics & Examples. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/role-model-essay-examples/

IvyPanda. (2023, January 30). 83 Role Model Topics & Examples. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/role-model-essay-examples/

"83 Role Model Topics & Examples." IvyPanda , 30 Jan. 2023, ivypanda.com/essays/topic/role-model-essay-examples/.

1. IvyPanda . "83 Role Model Topics & Examples." January 30, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/role-model-essay-examples/.


IvyPanda . "83 Role Model Topics & Examples." January 30, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/role-model-essay-examples/.

IvyPanda . 2023. "83 Role Model Topics & Examples." January 30, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/role-model-essay-examples/.

IvyPanda . (2023) '83 Role Model Topics & Examples'. 30 January.

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Essays on Role Models

The influence and importance of role models in the lives of people, role model: father as the most influential person in my life, leadership, helpfulness, and dedication in role models, taylor swift – a role model for me, the importance of peers and role models for adolescents, bo jackson: an american hero and legend in sports, emma watson as my role model, my role model: selena gomez, why celebrities are bad role models , parents should not rely on athletes as role models, prophet muhammad as a role model for me, my role model - tyler joseph, the way andrew carnegie's wealth made him a national hero, my mother is my role model, the people i consider to be my heroes, teen leader follow jesus as role model, my role model at work, how disney’s princesses are bad role models, how media portrays sport personalities and how it influences their image, my role model: john lennon, roles and responsibilities of managers, the bem sex-role inventory, facilitating and team group dynamics reflection disc, key reasons for andrew carnegie's success, does a role model have an impact on a person's life, feeling stressed about your essay.

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A role model is a person whose behaviour, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.

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Role Models Research Papers Samples For Students

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Maya Angelou was a fantastic person. I have really enjoyed learning more about her and I think that you may learn something new as well. Maya had divorced parents almost her entire life and lived with her paternal grandma for many years. She had one sibling an older brother named Bailey. Throughout her life Maya overcame many struggles and barriers. Maya Angelou is a woman of astounding intelligence and strength. Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in St. […]

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Many of us have role models in our lives and to most people role models are either athletes or movie stars, but to me a role model is much more. To me a role model is someone who has positively influenced a person’s life, and is not someone who is filled with selfishness and greed. They are people who someone can look up to for advice in a hard situation, and know that they will give those words of wisdom or the right path to take. A role model is someone who we should never feel awkward talking to about our problems. A perfect role model for me is my mother. She is one of the most wonderful human beings I know. My mother’s name is Frances and she is a very smart, caring, wise, ambitious, patient and such a loving person. There are no words that can describe my gratitude towards her, but through this essay I will describe some of her characteristics that makes her my role model. To begin with, I would like to describe my mom’s ambition. She wakes up every morning with the positive attitude, and a smile on her face even if the day before was terrible for her. My mother is always searching for ways to improve her persona, and live a happier life. I watch my mom go through so much stress with our family, her job, and especially me. No matter what though she is always pushing through it, she drinks a glass of wine here and there to cope with the stress but what I see most is that she always helps others before herself without asking or expecting anything in return. If my mom notices me feeling unhappy she always goes the extra mile to cheer me up or talk with me. My mom’s ambition to succeed in life has allowed her to grow into a wonderful person full of kindness and knowledge. Ambition is a great virtue to have, and that is one reason why my mother is my role model. My Mother is a very hard working person. She is alway on task with what she has to get done to achieve her main goals. One major thing I admire about my mom is that she first sets her goals and then takes step by step till she succeeds and never gives up no matter the struggle. My mom also encourages me quite a bit to become more organized with my main priorities. One big thing I lack that she definitely helps me with, is figuring out what I have to do first and completing it. For example my mom is constantly texting and reminding me throughout the day with what my deeds are or something important I need to focus on instead of other distractions. My mom is the most important person in my life and I know that she will be always there for me with help, her love, and her caring heart. She’s a wonderful person, she admires the beauty of life and finding the greater good rather than the bad. My mom shows me on a daily basis and continuously believes that life is what you create it to be. I also know if I have to make any big decisions in my life, I can always ask my mom for advice because she has the wisdom and experience even when I don’t want to admit it. My mother shares the greatest characteristic of a best friend because she will always tell me the truth even if it is not something that I want to hear, but she will tell me with kindness and without any judgment. She will help me approach bad situations in a more positive manner instead of continuing the wrong path. My mother is my role model because she does so much for me; she gives me everything she has just to make my life much easier. I love my mother with every inch and bone in my body. My mother is always there for me and I would do anything for her. If i’m being completely honest I would take a bullet for my mom at any time of any day instantly. She constantly gives me more than I deserve even when I give her a million reasons not to and make it hard on her. No matter how many times I were to let my mom down she will never give up on me or stop loving me. I am so thankful and blessed that she is who she is because I personally would not have gotten through 16 years years of life without my mom to keep me going everyday and finding ways to be more happy with what I have instead of finding and wanting more. Through the example of her own values my mom has set footprints for me to follow. She has also taught me ever since I was younger to always stay close to God because he is the only one who is always gonna stay by my side at every second and will lead me to a better life if I put my trust in him. Out of all 5 models of leadership my mom represents “Model the Way” and “Challenge the Process.” My mother models the way when she sets the everyday example of waking up to a new day with a more positive attitude than the last. My mom definitely inspires me each and every day to become a better me for myself and nobody else. She also challenges the process because she “never settles for less” My mother knows what she wants and she puts in the effort to receive it. I have struggled with change my whole life and my mom has done everything in her power to help me overcome those fears. For example my parents had separated when I was a kid and I never understood why until I grew older but my mom has always stayed as close to me as possible, making sure I was comfortable and safe. Another example of change that affected me quite a bit happened throughout these last two years in my personal life and I had nobody to help me go through it, but my mom was always there making sure I knew that if I needed to talk to her, she was always available. I always had a hard time opening up about certain situations but eventually my mom helped me overcome this by making me feel like I could trust her more and as I became older I realized my mom isn’t like the rest of theses moms, she’s definitely different and extremely unique!     


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  1. (PDF) Role Models - ResearchGate

    Role model has been defined as a person who is perceived by others as worthy of imitation and who may or may not have personal contact with the people who perceive him/her as a role model...

  2. Leaders as Role Models | BI

    One way we may do this in a work environment is by incorporating the values and attitudes of our leaders into our own identities. Leaders thus act as role models: They lead, we follow. In a new study, we test the extent to which this happens by looking at turnover in top leadership positions. Do such shifts in leadership cause shifts in the ...

  3. The Motivational Theory of Role Modeling: How Role Models ...

    In this paper, we introduce role aspirants and their motivational processes into an understanding of role modeling by drawing on expectancy-value theories of motivation to bring together the...

  4. Mentors, Leaders, and Role Models: Same or Different? - LWW

    Mentorship, in contrast, is “the voluntary developmental relationship that exists between a person with greater experience and one with lesser experience, characterized by mutual trust and respect.” 1 A role model, in contrast is someone whose behavior or specific traits are admired enough to be emulated. A classic example is Ben Franklin ...

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    Develop a role model essay outline. Your paper should be well-organized to keep the reader’s interest. Make separate sections for the most significant arguments and remember to include an introductory paragraph and a conclusion. Your introduction should present the problem you are discussing. Include a thesis statement at the end of the paragraph.

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    A role model is defined as "a person who serves as a model in a particular behavioral social role for another person to emulate”. In a more simplistic way, a role model is someone who one can look up to and hope to one day become similar to that role model, Many people consider different Hollywood stars, actors or musicians their role model.

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    A role model is an individual whose conduct, style or achievement is or can be imitated by others, particularly by more youthful individuals. The term good example is credited to humanist Robert K. Merton, who authored the expression during his profession. Merton theorized that people... Role Models Idol My Role Model - Tyler Joseph

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  9. Role Model Essay Examples, Topics, Titles - Free Research ...

    A role model has the ability to shape their views, beliefs, and passions. Kids will use this influence to form how they will behave and act in the future. A hero who demonstrates good qualities will have a positive effect on the future generations where a bad role model can have a disastrous effect. Children […]