by Morey Stettner
Michael Crowley, a Reader's Digest columnist, recently wrote about the shameful behavior of parents at Little League games. Overzealous dads (and moms) are bullying and even physically attacking their kids' coaches.
A Little League official told Crowley, "We are trying to remind parents that they are role models, whether they intend to be or not."
Attention, all managers: That applies to you, too.
You're a role model to your employees, whether you realize it or not. They look to you for cues on how to act, think and lead. When you curse, you implicitly grant them permission to curse. If you express disdain for customers or mock the CEO, they will heap scorn on these folks too. If you dress sloppily, you're giving them the green light to do the same.
Years ago, I was a trainee at a big insurance company. My boss lacked maturity and alienated people with his antics. After an outburst, he'd pull me aside and say with a smirk, "Don't copy me."
If you really don't want underlings to copy you, then upgrade your behavior. The best managers establish a professional tone and demeanor for everyone on the team.
Welcome constructive criticism from your peers and employees. Show curiosity if someone raises a concern and ask follow-up questions to learn more. Respond to bad news with outward calm. Praise people often and discipline under-performers in a supportive but firm manner. None of this is easy, of course, especially if you're emotionally expressive (that's a nice way of saying you're high-strung and quick to yell). Managing people may mean modifying your personality a bit. I'd love to end by saying, "Oh, just be yourself." Authenticity is a great asset, but you can also sabotage your effectiveness by exposing your warts for all to see.