Seeing is Believing: The Truth about Role Models

Leaders Talk

Seeing is Believing: The Truth about Role Models

Bhuvana is the Chief Marketing Officerat Randstad India. She is a marketingprofessional with over 25 years ofexperience across Industries. At Randstad. She is responsible for planning, developing,implementing and monitoring the overallbusiness marketing strategy. Her previous stints include IBM, Brandcomm, Aptech andVijay T.

In the following article Bhuvana speaks about Opportunities & Challenges, the Development of Leadership Skills, and Women’s Empowerment.

Leadership is about inspiring, influencing and guiding others. Motivating and being a role model is one of the key responsibilities of a true leader. This applies especially to women leaders.  Role models can help define the heights to which one can go or go above. They help expand what is possible - it is a simple, yet incredibly powerful process!

Being a role model means you are inspiring other women to be ambitious and climb up. You are motivating them to do what they might have thought that they can’t or have been told that they can't. The presence of women in leadership positions and the opportunity to network with them is vital to help motivate women to advance in their careers or their life, make their voices heard and also unlock their true potential.   

When I started working, I did not have many women role models who could inspire me or show me the path. If we don’t have anyone to look up to and see successful women, there is a tendency to slow down or doubt ourselves and not take the first step.  

In retrospection, I would have benefited if I had the right women role models at work, I would have probably had a jumpstart on many aspects of my work life. However, as I grew into my career, I have had the privilege of having women role models who showed an immense passion for their work and passed on their zeal to other aspiring women. They helped me become ambitious and believe in my capabilities. They recognized my achievements and ensured that I was in the limelight for the right reasons. They pulled me up when I was down and helped me with anchoring myself when I deviated. 

Today we have many public figures like Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Emma Watson, Ashley Graham, Faye D’Souza, Mithali Raj, Dhivya Suryadevara and many others who talk openly about their experiences and share their struggles so that other women can learn from them. I adore each one of them for their qualities of display and being vocal. I believe that it is definitely one of the key qualities to be a role model. I also love the fact that all of them have failed and have owned the failure and gotten back up to win. They have also questioned stereotyping and stood by what they believed in. They are all women who have multiple responsibilities and show us how to make decisions and how to make the most of our life.  

Role models have a way of influencing our thoughts, actions, and behaviour and have a clear set of values that are on display for others to imbibe.  

How can you be a great role model for women around you? 

  1. Recognise your responsibility as a role model. Remember that you are being looked up to. 
  2. To err is human, but it’s important to own your mistakes and acknowledge them before you move on. 
  3. It’s important to show your confidence side as that’s critical for other women to see.
  4. Acknowledge other women and their achievements. Take the lead to celebrate women leaders or women in your life. 
  5. If you notice apologetic behaviour or girls suppressing their feelings, speak to them about it and ensure that they believe in themselves. 
  6. Be authentic and showcase your true self. Teach them about being visible and showcasing their work. Tell them about how they do themselves a great disservice whenever they are not invisible.
  7. Volunteer to mentor or guide girls from a young age.  
  8. I have also noticed that women sidestep praise or compliments and make excuses. I have had to explicitly ask them to take the compliment. 
  9. Teach them to ask for what they deserve. Teach them to ask for feedback. 
  10. Teach them not to fall into the trap of false feminism as that can only take us a few steps backwards. 

For women who are on the lookout for role models: 

  1. Seek out women from across practices, jobs, and roles who have a quality that you crave to have. 
  2. Observe and learn. Read about them, read what they write and learn from the good and bad of these women. 
  3. If you are lucky and you have access to these role models, then ask them to mentor you or provide guidance. 
  4. Invest time and energy in yourself and take yourself seriously for others to do so. 
  5. Ask as many questions as possible and be prepared to answer a few questions about yourself.  

"A role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this.” - Sonia Sotomayor