Photo Credit: Jehyun Sung,

In my last blog, I introduced a new series where I’ll be discussing the five things every leader must get right if they’re to be effective. We launched the series with the concept that leadership isn’t about you, instead it’s about your team and what they need and want from you as a leader.

In this follow-up blog, we’ll get into the second thing you must get right as a leader: realizing that you are a role model.

Do you remember in the early ‘90s when Charles Barkley famously stated that he wasn’t a role model? I remember that bothering me even then (before I was even thinking of going into a career in coaching).

The fact of the matter is, when you’re in the public spotlight, or just the spotlight of your own business, you are a role model–whether you like it or not. People are going to watch what you do and say and it’s going to color their perception of you, as well as affect their own behavior.

Do as I Say and Do as I Do

When you’re a leader, you must be hyper-conscious about practicing what you preach. If you tell your team how important it is to be authentic and put your customers first and then turn around and lie so you can make a big sale, your team will notice.

If you encourage your employees to have a good work-life balance but then spend every evening at the office and miss dinner with your family, they’ll notice. As a leader, you must say what you mean and then take it a step further and do what you say. Even the most minor of inconsistencies will be noted by your more observant team members and that’s enough to put doubts in their heads and erode their trust in you as a leader.

Having expectations as a leader’s normal and healthy. However, you’d better make sure that you’re leading yourself first and holding yourself to the same expectations you’re putting on your team.

Expect them to treat each other and your clients with respect? Then you’d better treat people with respect. Expect them to work extra hours if a project isn’t finished? Then you’d better be prepared to be working right alongside them.

When you lead yourself first, you get the benefit of a positive trickle-down effect. Showing that you’re willing to do everything you expect those you lead to do isn’t only an effective leadership tool—it’s a non-negotiable part of being a leader.

Realizing that being a role model’s an integral part of being an effective leader is a crucial step of leadership development. Once you realize that ‘walking the walk’ is essential in every facet of leadership, you can lead yourself first and always set the right example.

Now that you know that leadership isn’t about you and the importance of being a good role model, we can move onto the third thing you must get right as a leader: realize that true leadership is a mindset, not just the sum of the things you do.

I hope you’ll join me as we discuss this concept in my next blog!

Trish Cody is an Executive Awareness Coach and Speaker who focuses on optimizing results for business leaders. With over 20 years of experience as a strategic consultant for some of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Practitioner, Trish works with senior level leaders and business owners to raise their levels of self-awareness and create more trust, loyalty and success in their businesses and teams. Contact Trish at

Photo Credit: Jehyun Sung,