How To Help Your Female Talent Pick The Right Role Models That Elevate Their Career
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How To Help Your Female Talent Pick The Right Role Models That Elevate Their Career

How To Help Your Female Talent Pick The Right Role Models That Elevate Their Career

When it comes to moving along the career ‘wall’, finding the right role models can prove incredibly valuable. As an HR manager or leader of teams, it’s important that you are having a conversation with your female talent about role models, and providing them with the tools they need to select the ones that are going to make a positive difference in their careers. 

What is a role model?

At Elevate Talent, we define a role model as someone you look up to, whose values, actions and life choices are in alignment with where you want to be. In our recent blog, we set out how organisations can help their female talent choose the right sponsor to take their career to the next level. A sponsor and sponsee relationship is a two-way street, but people can choose a role model they have never met because it’s more about witnessing and observing their behaviours.

So, the question is; are you asking your team about their role models? American motivational coach Tony Robbins tells us that “success leaves clues”; paying attention to the characteristics and behaviours of people and emulating them can help your talent pipeline accelerate their career progression.

In this blog, we’re going to explore two ways to ensure you help your talented people choose the right role model(s) for them, so that you can enhance their career prospects and go further faster.

2 tips to help your team choose the right role model(s) 

You might like to follow one or both of these approaches:

 -1- Help them create a personal board of diverse role models

Many of the women I’ve coached have slipped into the trap of trying to find someone who is just like them and who has what they want. It’s often said that “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it!” That’s not strictly true! that’s a limiting belief that blinkers people to the real opportunities that are within their grasp. Margaret Thatcher became the UK’s first female prime minister. Barack Obama was America’s first Black president. What if they had settled for what had gone before instead of pursuing advancement? 

Finding a great role model isn’t necessarily about finding someone the same as you, because that compounds whatever it is that you are trying to develop or change. Your people are unique and all of them are looking to be the very best version of themselves, not to be a replica of someone else.

Do you remember the character Clair Huxtable from the American TV sitcom The Cosby Show? I really admired her because she was calm, collected and instinctively knew what to do in times of chaos or crisis.

Clair, played by Phylicia Rashad*, was in many ways the epitome of success. She maintained her career as a lawyer and ran a strong household. As a Black American woman and mother of five, Clair had a very different appearance, life and background to me, but I loved the way that she conducted herself. She was, in many ways, a role model to me.

You can still encourage them to pick the bits about someone that are relevant and work out how their skills can be used in your team members career. 

Often when we adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to role models, we’re left disappointed because nobody is perfect. However, when you cherry pick from a range of sources, you can create the ultimate role model for your people. Focus on their results and what they did to get there, not who they are or where they came from.

Encourage them to be the evolution of your role model rather than limited by the level of success they’ve attained.

 -2- Consider the characteristics and behaviours your team want/need to amplify in their careers

Ask your female talent the following questions to find the right role model(s):

  • What qualities do you want to develop?
  • Who already does this well?
  • What might your version of that quality look like? How could you make it “more you”?
  • What else can you learn from this person?
  • Who else appeals to you, and why?

Each of us is as unique as a thumbprint; unless you want a team of tribute acts, it’s time to help them find their own role model(s) from whom they can draw inspiration as they blaze their own trail.

Cast your net near and far

Growing up, my father, who was a research chemist, taught me that the biggest problem some researchers faced was their tunnel vision when it came to analysis – they thought that the microscope was the best instrument available, to the exclusion of many others.

Whilst he supported securing an up-close-and-detailed picture of the task in hand, he was also a fan of looking ahead and gaining a sense of perspective; metaphorically speaking, he encouraged the use of the microscope and a telescope. You can do the same with role models. Help your team create a detailed analysis of their desirable traits, and look at the bigger picture in terms of what they have achieved and how their actions are perceived.

As a manager, you will be in the perfect position to know what your team’s goals are, and how they can get there, so you are in a unique position to help them find the perfect role models which will contribute to that success.

By blending the qualities of potential role models and having your team put their own stamp on them, you create a type of best practice where they display the strength of one person, the tenacity of another, the humility of a third, and perhaps the flexibility of a fourth. You remove all limitations.

I hope this blog has inspired you to talk to your team about their role models. Perhaps you have an unlikely role model you can share with them? Click here to share your thoughts.

If you’re ready to enhance your career prospects, or you’re an organisation that recognises that creating a female talent pipeline is business critical, please get in touch to discuss how Elevate Talent can support you to create the impact and growth you want.

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Phylicia Rashad