Gold Star Leadership
Lesson 3

Leaders as Role Models
Throughout your cadet training you have been taught to set a god personal example. Indeed, it is perhaps the most important principle of leadership that you learned in the Silver Star Course. Army cadets pride themselves on the example they set for others.

As an individual in a leadership position, you are often set apart from other cadets by such factors as your rank, training, physical stature, parade appointment, responsibilities and maturity. These factors ad the way that they work to set you apart, make you much more of an influential role model than you realize. Because you are set apart, more people can see you and look to you for a good example.

There are two types of examples that you can set. The first type is a deliberate example. This is the type of example that you purposefully set for the cadets in your group in order to teach them something. You are in effect deliberately demonstrating the behaviour and actions that you want to see in them. For example, you might show up five minutes early for your regular training night in order to demonstrate punctuality. The key with this type of example is to know what is a good example and what is a bad one. It would be doubly wrong to deliberately set the wrong example!

The second type of example is the unconscious example. this type of example is more difficult to identify because it is incorporated into your daily life and personality. The unconscious example is set every minute of every day - on and off duty. Take the previous deliberate example where you try and establish punctuality among you cadets by arriving five minutes early. If we modify the situation so that you are the type of platoon warrant officer who always shows up five minutes late, you would be setting a bad example for other cadets to follow. It would also be very difficult to ask them to be on time when you are never punctual yourself. You would be guilty of the attitude that says "do as I say and not as I do."

All this talk about setting the example can be related to the leader's responsibilities as a role model. To be a role model for younger cadets is one of the responsibilities that comes with your promotions and advancement, even though you will not find this responsibility listed in your job description. By virtue of your leadership position, new recruits will look to you for support, encouragement and direction. Any example, advice or teachings that you pass along to the cadets represents a source of learning for them. The old expression "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" holds true in this situation. Cadets will try to copy the example that you give them just as they have imitated some of the examples given them by their parents, teachers, etc. As a leader, you have the responsibility to recognize the importance of the examples you set for others just as your superior officers will set a good example for you to copy. You must be the best leader, citizen, and cadet that you can be at all times, and as a result of your best effort, you cannot help but positively affect those around you.

As a young adult you might have selected Wayne Gretzky or Terry Fox as a role model. Did you ever hear yourself saying "I wish that I could play hockey like him" or "I admire him for his efforts to raise money for cancer research." These are typical thoughts that occur to all of us at one point or another, and they indicate that we would like to improve ourselves in a given area just as our chosen role models have demonstrated by their example. Perhaps your CO demonstrated a leadership style that encouraged co-operation, mutual respect and participation form all staff. As cadet commanding, you decide to copy this style and insist tat each of your NCO's co-operate together and that they respect one another. If you are ever in doubt as to your example, ask this question of yourself: "Am I having a positive or negative influence on the cadets in this corps?"

During the Silver Star Course, you learned the principles of leadership. While these principles are very important to your understanding of leadership in an abstract way, they are not as helpful in providing concrete actions. What follows in the next few paragraphs are some hints that you can follow right away in order to improve your leadership skills. This is not a complete list and there will be many more ideas that others will be able to pass on. Add their suggestions to the list and remember to pass them on to the next person!

  • Demonstrate pride in the uniform by always wearing the appropriate order of dress and being well turned out.

  • Learn everything there is to know about your parade position and carry out drill movements according to the book.

  • Go to each of your classes well prepared to teach an exciting and challenging lesson. All cadets can recognize a poorly prepared instructor with their eyes and ears closed!

  • Always follow the chain of command in passing orders and resolving difficulties.

  • Keep your individual morale up despite the hardships that you may be facing.

  • Ensure that the esprit de corps for your group is excellent.
The terms morale and esprit de corps are often used interchangeably. While they appear similar in definition, they are not the same. 

Morale manifests itself in cheerful acceptance of prevailing conditions, enthusiasm for the assigned task, confidence in leadership and good working relationships. Morale is often used when speaking of the individual. 

Esprit de corps comes after morale is established and is defined as a positive group spirit based on each cadet's pride in the cadet battalion, company or platoon, etc. Although morale and esprit de corps are important to any organization, every army cadet corps must ensure that morale and esprit to corps remain high because it depends on the continued participation and interest of all cadets in order to be successful.

  • Last but not least, demonstrate good discipline at all times. This rule applies equally to self-discipline and imposed discipline. (Discipline manifests itself in the prompt and willing response to orders and commands and to situations requiring individual or group action.)
With these few simple hints and an appreciation of your role as a model for other cadets, your leadership skills will undoubtedly improve. Set an example you can be proud of and others will be sure to follow. Demonstrate an active and enthusiastic approach to the job of leader and you will notice that you can move mountains.
Your Turn...

1. List the leadership hint that you think is the most important and explain why.

2. Which type of example has more importance in our leadership style? Explain why you think one type of example is more important than the other?
3. Name another leadership hint that you have discovered.

What do you think...?

The more extensive a man's knowledge of what has been done, 
the greater will be his power of knowing what to do.

Benjamin Disraeli

Enthusiasm is the steam which makes the engine go. It is, if you like the simile better, an electric dynamo, capable of generating currents of infinite poser and potentiality. Enthusiasm is the propelling force necessary for climbing the ladder of success. The descent to failure is greased with the slime of indifference.

B. C. Forbes

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: "We did this ourselves."

Lau Tzu
6th Century Chinese Philosopher

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; 
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Source: Gold Star Handbook (A-CR-CCP-121/PT-001) - Chapter 11