Why can't little people be role models?

Role models: Examples of how these are influencing careers

We all have role models and idols that we admire, that we emulate, and that we want to be. There is a lot that can be fascinating about a role model: words, deeds, talents, charisma, qualities, successes. Such prime examples of humanity are enormously helpful: role models inspire us to follow their example, motivate and inspire us to achieve our own goals. Or they serve as a claim to be a role model for others. We show what makes a good role model, why they are so important and how you too can become a role model ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: Why we need role models

A role model is someone you look up to and identify with. They stand for behaviors, characteristics or attitudes that one would like to imitate and copy oneself. Mostly role models are people you don't even know personally. Famous names, successful entrepreneurs, athletes, or other personalities made famous by their actions. A role model stands for a certain value that you write yourself on the flag and that you want to emulate. We have listed some examples of role models and the qualities they stand for:

  • Leonardo da Vinci for creativity.
  • mother Theresa for example for mercy
  • Martin Luther King for justice.
  • Albert Einstein for intelligence.
  • Nelson Mandela for mental strength and tenacity.
  • Che Gevara for revolution and guerrilla struggle.
  • Richard Branson for courageous entrepreneurship.

All of these people embody certain qualities that one admires and in most cases would like to have and strengthen oneself. The way there: conditional imitation. People look for a role model and adapt their preferred behavior or way of thinking. This is called "social learning".

This social learning represents a decisive step in the development of children: They observe the behavior of their parents and imitate it. This way they learn to understand their environment. And this way of learning is even faster than trial and error.

These functions have models from today

In addition, role models fulfill other functions:

  • Role models give us orientation
    Many people are looking for a direction to give their lives. You wonder where you're going or you're looking for yourself. Role models help you find that out. You look at the lives and actions of these outstanding people and get an idea of ​​how to behave yourself.
  • Role models give us security
    In a world of trouble spots, global warming and precarious working conditions, many long for more security. They need something or someone to hold onto. Heroes are popular in uncertain times. These figures of light, as you could already see in the first candidacy of Barack Obama (the first black US president), become symbols - the rock on which we ourselves build something.
  • Role models give us motivation
    Role models are people who have made it in life. They serve as a positive example and proof that a goal is basically achievable and a thing is generally feasible. You can motivate to work on your goals and dreams yourself, to persevere, to believe in yourself.

Types of role models: This is what you need

There are several types of role models that you can use as a guide. In order to get the most benefit from your role models, it makes sense that you look for different role models. We introduce you to three types of role models that you should have:

  • Real role models
    This type of role model is the positive role model described above. They are positive leading figures that you want to use for orientation and whose values ​​or characteristics you identify with. The motto here is: This is how I want to be.
  • Partly role models
    In addition to the real role models, you should also have so-called partial role models. These are also an initially positive model, but this does not apply unreservedly. For example, you can take as a role model what someone has achieved - but disagree with the way in which he has achieved it.
  • Bad role models
    It sounds contradictory, but bad role models are also good role models. Because a bad role model shows you: I definitely don't want to be or become like that. These are people who embody something that does not suit you and your expectations. It can be a lazy colleague who only rests on the achievements of others, a bad boss who just shouts and has no leadership skills or a well-known person who is only known for their arrogance, for example.

Hillary-Clinton Effect: How do role models work?

The US psychologist Joshua Aaronson found that female students think spatially better if you tell them before a test that they are among the top talents in this discipline. The reverse case also worked: subjects performed worse if they believed they belonged to a group that did not have the tested ability. The phenomenon is also known in the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One might think that it is enough - in the positive - to look for a successful role model, and your own performance will promptly improve. Unfortunately, this is not true across the board, as a study at Texas Christian University shows. In fact, the impact of a role model is extremely dependent on whether we attribute that person's success to their efforts - or luck. The scientists also called this the Hillary-Clinton Effect.

For their experiment, they selected American female students, some of whom named Hillary Clinton as a role model for women in general and for themselves in particular. The Hillary Clinton fans were particularly interesting because this group was by no means homogeneous. While some attributed Clinton's success to hard work, perseverance, and talent, others found it was largely based on favorable circumstances, a good network, or just plain luck. A few months later, the students were given a math test: some of the test subjects were reminded beforehand that women usually do worse than men in math. Another group - the Clinton fans - read an excerpt from Hillary Clinton's success story beforehand. The third (control) group was presented with a few facts about a particularly successful company.

What happened?

The control group got 59.3 percent correct answers. However, anyone who was reminded beforehand that women were supposedly worse at math, promptly only achieved 50.7 percent of the points. But it got exciting with the Clinton fans: of those who were convinced that the politician's success was based on their own performance, 62.3 percent answered the test questions correctly. But if you only saw luck behind it, you only got 48.9 percent of the points. The insight from this is admittedly not rocket science: It is not enough to look for a particularly successful role model in order to be motivated and carried away by it. You also have to believe that this success can be repeated - even by yourself, because the mechanics behind it are open to everyone.

Or to put it another way: everyone is the blacksmith of their own fortune - but only those who are convinced that they also have a hammer and anvil.

Properties: What can distinguish a role model?

There can be role models in every area and for every character trait. In the end, the decisive factor is which values ​​or which skills you want yourself to be. It is therefore not possible to say in general which characteristics a role model embodies. But there are some characteristics of role models that are particularly sought after. We have put these together for you in a small overview:

Find a role model: Who is a good role model?

Whether Che Gevara, Nelson Mandela, a professor at the university, the boss at work, successful colleagues or our own parents - the role models we can choose are as diverse as the people themselves. Finding a role model is therefore a difficult task . To make matters worse, it is often not enough to just look for a role model. Depending on the phase of life and the situation, new and new role models are sought - so these can change over time. Anyone who was previously considered a role model is suddenly no longer interesting or embodies characteristics that are no longer relevant.

For example, children would like to be as free and independent as Pippi Longstocking. In adulthood, for example, you tend to admire your successful colleagues or neighbors, maybe even your own (nice) boss. The people who inspire you depend on the situation you are in and the goals you are striving for. That is why the choice of role models reveals a lot about the current phase of a person's life, but also about the person himself and his dreams and wishes.

Sure, you can admire people like Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa, but it is much more difficult to orientate yourself by them because they are moral authorities and seem to hover far above you - almost inaccessible. Good as an orientation, difficult to grasp as a direct role model. The ideal role model, on the other hand, is someone you admire, but whose success does not seem unattainable. They are people who have worked hard for their success but are not perfect. They make mistakes and have weaknesses like us. Weaknesses that we know and have experienced ourselves. We can best orientate ourselves on such leading figures.

Look for role models - that's how it works

In addition, we have three tips on how you can find a role model and benefit from it:

  • Be active in your search
    Take a close look around your surroundings. Ask yourself which qualities you appreciate in the people around you. In which area are these people particularly committed or successful? For example, the neighbor who gets up at 7 a.m. every morning regardless of the wind and weather to go jogging. Or the colleague who even takes a customer's whistle calmly. It doesn't have to be just a single role model.
  • Observe what makes the person stand out
    What qualities do you particularly appreciate or admire in these people? Ask yourself why that is. For example, do you find it hard to stay calm when a customer complains? Would you like to be more active yourself but lack the discipline? Role models embody something we want for ourselves. This mixture of self-reflection and observation of others enables you to learn from role models.
  • Integrate what you see into your behavior
    Find ways to incorporate the exemplary behavior into your own actions. Important: Always stay true to yourself! You can try to mimic the behavior, but do it your way. See how your colleague manages to stay calm. What does he say to the customer? How would you put it? Adapt what role models do to your personality. Make the behavior of your colleague the foundation of your own actions.

Where you can find role models in your environment

When you think of role models, do you think of famous people, either from today or from history? Understandable. These have made a name for themselves in connection with a property. Often, however, we don't have to go that far beyond our environment to find suitable role models. For example, think of ...

  • friends and family
    In your teenage years you still try hard to differentiate yourself from your own parents. You just don't want to be like them. In adulthood, many find that their parents did some things right. In retrospect, we realize how difficult they may have had it and how masterfully they handled it. For that we now admire them.
  • Teachers and professors
    Teachers, trainers, professors - none of them have always made life easy for us. We were often annoyed with them. As a rule, there are all the teachers and lecturers that you have experienced in your learning phase, but there are also those who have inspired and inspired you. They are people who have managed to get you thinking and thinking further.
  • Colleagues and superiors
    At work, too, there are people whom we admire, for example, for their confident way of dealing with problems or for their creative ideas. Colleagues who have had a surprisingly fragile career, who have persistently worked their way up or who know an industry like no other. Real experts.

Become a role model: Show yourself as an example

To become such a lighthouse yourself, you don't have to mutate into a do-gooder. Superhuman achievements are rather optional for a role model. It also works a few sizes smaller. That's the good news: Otto Normal is also a good role model if he consciously aligns his behavior accordingly. The following recommendations may be taken for granted by some. But they contain the basis for a positive example and the chance to exert a positive influence on your environment ...

10 tips for an exemplary appearance

  • Recognize your role model function
    Make it clear to yourself that even the calmest and lowest-ranking employee can have a positive influence on colleagues through their behavior.
  • Be authentic
    If you are a tough guy, then that belongs to your character and can be just as personable. While this is not a license for licentiousness, it is an appeal for authenticity. Actors are exposed sooner or later.
  • Discover potential
    Encourage inconspicuous colleagues to perform at their best that no one would have expected them to do. They will not forget you.
  • Think ahead
    Only when you pursue a clear goal can your actions be understood by others. You don't have to be a visionary to develop clear goals.
  • Share your knowledge
    Do not keep information to yourself, but use it to increase the success of the project for everyone. Share your expertise with others and your colleagues will do the same.
  • Explore other points of view
    Put yourself in the perspective of a colleague and try to identify his motivation - then you will know why he is acting, how he is acting.
  • Set the bar high
    You don't have to (and can't) always give 150 percent. But when it comes down to it, you should be able to go a step further.
  • Consider the echo
    Treat others only as you would like to be treated yourself. If you are capable of criticism, you can also criticize. If not, don't.
  • Acknowledge others
    Respect and praise the strong performance of colleagues and accept that others can be role models as well.
  • Go boldly ahead
    Be more seekers of success than avoiders of failure. Look for solutions, because: if you want something, you will find ways; if you don't want something, reasons.

Disadvantages: When role models hurt

As important as role models can be, they can also harm you. Exaggerating a particular person carries enormous risks. The excessive reverence is also a sign of a lack of self-confidence. Imitation is harmful whenever you lose your own personality in trying to copy the other person. Therefore, therefore and because of this: only orientate yourself on your role model, but don't try to become the same! Those who copy every step and take over everything are denying themselves. That way you don't develop further, but become a worse version of something that already exists.

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4th November 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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