Role Models for Your Staff

Role Models For Your Staff


Any department in your paper that has more than one person has a staff leader. This single person controls the attitude of most of the staff within the department. You may think (or hope) I am referring to the Department Manager. I am not. I am referring to that headstrong staff person within the department. In sales, it may be the top salesperson. In other departments it may be the veteran staff member.

Management doesn’t appoint these people as team leaders. This is either a self-proclaimed position or one that is thrust upon them because of their good performance or strong personality. These people set the pace for the department (good or bad). Their attitude and performance determines the outcome of a project more than the hard work of the department manager. They are the role models everyone else patterns their behavior after.

Once you determine who the role model for the department is you should work with them to develop great role model characteristics. Help them develop the work patterns and attitudes you would like to see modeled for the entire staff. Involve them in decisions for the department. Use their leadership to help create a stronger department.


Top Performers resisting Role Modeling


Despite what basketball legend, Charles Barkley once said, leaders are role models. No one likes to have every action (and reaction) judged but despite their reluctance if they are a leader, they ARE a role model. People around them watch and judge everything they do. Peers, subordinates, co-workers and of course, supervisors all watch how the leader acts and reacts in every situation.

In sales, as in basketball, the leadership role is assigned to the top performers. New salespeople approach their career with enthusiasm and a desire to be the best. They are attracted by the promise of the “big bucks” that result from being a top performer themselves. Often, they look for a mentor to pattern their future success after. During Michael Jordan’s playing days, rookie NBA players along with young people around the country wanted to “Be like Mike”. They looked toward a mentor that that they could pattern their style of basketball play after. Similarly, rookie salespeople want to be like the top performer on the sales force.

Like Charles Barkley, some top performer salespeople don’t want to be role models. They are reluctant to accept the responsibility of being the leader and modeling the performance of the “perfect” salesperson. Their reluctance is usually due to the pressure of having everything they do being watched and judged. It is easier to be viewed as a top performer when the only thing that others look at is how many points you score (or sales you close). It becomes more difficult to retain the top performer position when everyone watches your performance both on and off the court. Despite the top performer’s resistance to accept the role model position, if he/she is the top performer they are setting an example that others will follow. They may be setting a good example or a bad example but either way they are setting an example.


Top Performers accepting Role Modeling


Some top performing salespeople are thrilled to accept role modeling. They enjoy sharing ideas and helping the rookie salesperson get started in the right direction. They remind me of David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs. When the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, David willingly became the teacher helping the rookie adapt to the new surroundings in the NBA and turn around a losing franchise in to the world champions just 3 years later.

Top performers in your organization who willingly accept role modeling can be your company’s best asset. Following are some tips I have given top performing salespeople to help them become great role models.

· Guard your tongue – Always speak positively about your customers, your co-workers, your company and its leaders. Don’t use foul or inappropriate language.

· Be Nice - Treat everyone with respect. Poor role models often have a higher value of themselves than others. Everyone in your company has an important role in the team’s success. Great role models recognize that and encourage those around them to strengthen the team.

· Work harder than anyone else – Expectations are high for the top performers. Everyone watches their work ethics and is quick to criticize any misuse of time or company assets. Great role models get to work earlier, have shorter lunches and stay later than average sales performers. They don’t waste time during working hours surfing the Internet, wasting an hour deciding what everyone is doing for lunch or playing games on their computer.


The results of top performer David Robinson’s role as the teacher paid big dividends to the San Antonio Spurs. A top performer in your organization willing to be a role model can help develop your team into world champions.


Here is a quote to remember: “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.”

Steven Covey, Business consultant


Dave Baragrey is a business consultant and sales trainer for Publishers-Edge, a Special Section syndicate for print and on-line special sections, and Consulting business specifically designed to help newspapers and shopping guides.

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