Being a Role Model by Being Human

As a leader, you’ve got a team full of people looking up to you for guidance, encouragement, and direction. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that even as a leader, you’re also only human. 

I know; that sort of thinking can take some getting used to, but it’s true! You’re not a machine, you’re not a managerial algorithm, you’re not a directorial, unfeeling cyborg – and that’s actually a good thing. 

While the turn-of-phrase you’re only human can sometimes come across as a bit of a cliché, I’d encourage any and all forward-thinking leaders out there to stop and really ruminate on that sentiment. Don’t just read the words, but really embrace them and imagine how you might role model this philosophy to your day-to-day approach to leadership. I’ll kick things off right here with some thought-starters. 

Three Thought-Starters on Role Modelling Leadership, Vulnerability, and Trust

1. Lead by Example – In All Things

As a leader, what sort of behaviours would you like to see demonstrated by your team members? As someone who’s worked and connected with countless executives, I can venture a guess at a few examples. You might like to see employees who are confident in their thinking, but always eager to hear from others and collaborate on the best way forward. You might appreciate individuals who don’t have a problem asking for help when it’s needed. You almost certainly appreciate honesty and transparency – particularly when mistakes have been made and solutions need to be developed. 

All of these scenarios have something in common: the idea that it’s okay not to be infallible; that communication and collaboration trumps a one-person show; and that pride is always best set aside to make way for earnest honesty. 

That said, many leaders may still find themselves feeling as though they need to be a shining paragon of perfection personified, almost as if people will lose faith in them if they admit to any sort of misstep or miscommunication. 

This is where the best leaders step up to the plate and role model by example. 

Believe it or not, it’s much more difficult to be wrong than to (pretend to) be perfect, but by leading by example and embracing your humanity (by asking for help, owning up to mistakes, and acknowledging that you’re only human) you’ll be demonstrating for your team that it’s safe for them to do the same – to the benefit of your business, your employees, and ultimately even yourself. 

2. We All Have Our Moments – Good and Bad

A universal truth is that we all experience the ups and downs of life – the good days and the bad. Sometimes you hit a wall and feel like you get absolutely nothing done, while other times you find yourself standing triumphantly on top of that same previously insurmountable barrier, looking back in pride at what you’ve accomplished. 


Embrace that fundamental human experience and role model it for your team! Revel in your successes and commiserate on the pitfalls and shortcomings. Use that energy and those experiences to guide your approach to leadership and inform your future decision-making. Doing so will encourage your team members to do the same – opening the lines of communication, increasing transparency amongst team members, and building trust in the process. 

Speaking of trust…

3. Vulnerability Leads to Trust – and Trust Leads to Success

My leadership coaching program is built squarely on the foundation of Absolute Trust® – and there’s a reason for that. Without trust, it is simply impossible for leaders and their teams to unlock their full performance potential. 

That’s why I believe it’s critical that forward-thinking leaders embrace their humanity (vulnerability and all!) in order to find success. By leaning into what you’re experiencing and giving yourself permission to be human – to catch your breath, to genuinely feel the impact of any given moment, and even to ask for help when you need it – you’re not only role-modelling leadership at its best, but you’re also earning your team’s trust. It’s through the fostering of this trust environment that team members begin to truly feel safe: safe to share their ideas, safe to innovate, and safe to take risks, trusting that their vulnerability will be respected as a matter of course.

By building that foundation of reciprocal vulnerability, trust, and safety within your team, you’re empowering them to be their best selves, cultivating truly-committed employees who are always eager to take big swings in order to find big successes – a truly enviable position for any team leader to find themselves in!  

The benefits of being human and embracing vulnerability all come back to one fundamental success truth: the need for trust. Get in touch with me at SR Greenway Leadership today to learn more about how Absolute Trust® can set you and your organization on the path toward success today – and thanks for reading!