Professional Role Models: Definition, Traits and Benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 14, 2022

Published December 12, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A role model is someone who has the specific traits and skills that people strive to achieve and enact. These people can inspire others to perform better work or develop particular skills. Understanding the definition, characteristics and importance of a role model can help you identify one in your workplace or help you become a role model for others.

In this article, we discuss what a professional role model is, their key traits and the benefits of having a role model in the workplace.

What is a role model?

A role model is someone who others may emulate or admire because they're efficient or skilled in some way. Role models usually try to learn as much as they can to better themselves but remain humble and respectful to others. You may find role models inside or outside of your workplace. You can use a role model to identify which skills and behaviors you strive for and what achievements you aim to accomplish.

Related: What Is a Mentor?

Traits of role models

Most role models display similar characteristics. They remain confident in their abilities and that of their coworkers. These traits usually comprise effective workplace role models:


Role models take responsibility for their actions and admit when they make mistakes. They can inspire others to do the same by making their teams aware of their mistakes and how they plan to correct them. When a role model displays their willingness to take accountability, others often follow.

Related: Accountability in the Workplace: Importance and Tips for Improving It

Hard work

Effective role models work hard when completing their tasks, and they may frequently complete more than what's expected of them. Once they complete their work, they may offer to help colleagues with additional work as well. They display a positive and confident attitude and show their eagerness to help however they can.


An effective role model maintains a positive attitude, even when they experience challenges inside or outside of the workplace. They look at the benefits of each situation and encourage those around them to do the same. Their positive attitude can inspire others in the workplace to display the same confidence and optimism.

Related: Positive Working Environment: Definition and Characteristics


Role models persist in their work to achieve an effective outcome. They encounter obstacles with a sense of urgency and resolve. Others in the company and work environment can notice their dedication and strive to show the same effort and attitude.

Related: How To Find a Mentor in 5 Steps


Moral integrity serves as an important trait for role models. People in the workplace often admire them because they reflect honesty and follow their company's rules and guidelines. This includes being on time and remaining productive during work hours and complying with company policies. Leading by example in this way can prompt others to uphold the same standards and practices.


These professionals focus on treating employees, coworkers and customers with respect in every situation. A good way for role models to gain respect from others is to always show respect to them. The mutual display of respect creates a fair and positive work environment for everyone involved.

Related: How To Answer: "Who Is Your Role Model?" (Plus Examples)

5 benefits of role models in the workplace

Here are some benefits of having role models in the workplace:

1. They increase employee morale

Role models help boost morale by using their traits to make the workplace an environment that people enjoy. Their attitudes inspire others to perform optimally at all times. Their coworkers and employees likely admire them, and when they appear satisfied with their daily work life, then those around them may feel the same way. For example, a role model may always show up on time and offer to help with important tasks. Others in the workplace can appreciate their efforts and may experience more satisfaction in a workplace where people foster a helpful and collaborative environment.

Related: 6 Characteristics of a Team-Oriented Workplace Culture

2. They inspire healthy competition

Top performers and role models inspire healthy competition in the workplace. Those who work with them notice how well they perform, and it may inspire them to produce work on the same level or above their level. The quality and performance of a role model give others an objective to work toward achieving.For example, a role model may sell products at a company at twice the normal rate of the average employee and receive recognition for their work, and their coworkers may feel positive pressure to keep up and sell more. They may even ask the role model for tips and techniques on how to be more successful in their jobs. This atmosphere motivates everyone to place extra effort into their work and achieve new goals.

Related: How To Develop a Culture of Healthy Competition at Work

3. They create a positive atmosphere

An effective role model strives to maintain an attitude of positivity in the workplace. They encourage optimism and try to implement ideas that contribute to a more positive environment. They may use and promote encouraging language and effective collaboration to foster positive thinking and achieve useful outcomes. For example, a role model may write a weekly positive quote on a workplace whiteboard in a break room or in another common area to give their colleagues something nice to consider during the week.

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

4. They motivate others

Role models can coach and train others by doing more than providing individuals with the necessary information. They also motivate their teams to do their best to excel at work. They can achieve this motivation through verbal encouragement, collaboration and leading by example.For instance, a role model may notice that an employee seems frustrated with a recent project deadline. The role model can take the time to figure out the employee's concerns and assist them by providing examples of work they've done in the past that met strict deadlines. This motivates the employee by showing them how they can meet their deadline and can even offer tips for improving their work.

Related: 100 Famous Quotes To Inspire and Motivate

5. They communicate openly

Role models share their ideas and offer innovations to assist with industry goals. They provide honest and consistent feedback and offer constructive input. They communicate with employees and coworkers about how they became skilled and successful in their job roles. For instance, the supervisor of a role model may ask for specific feedback on a new process their company has implemented. The role model gives honest and positive feedback and offers perceived alternatives to fix any potential issues with the new process

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