The impact of role models

By Avery Thomas

The idea of role models is simple, to lead by example to promote healthy choices. When someone stands up and leads with positive intentions, others feel obligated to teach the same way. 

Kayhi senior Jhenna Day said she became a leader because she wanted others to be treated the same way she was when she was young.

“I really wanted to make a change in everyone’s experiences, so there wouldn’t be any negativity in their day,” said Day. “I just wanted to make a bigger impact overall.”

Day is involved with NHS, Rotary Interact, Class Act, and on the dance team. She explained that she didn’t have just one role model in her life, but that she had multiple. Through trying different activities with lots of different coaches and leaders, Day had lots of good attributes to pick up on.

“I just looked up to all of my leaders from different activities ranging from school to church,” said Day. “It just collectively taught what kind of leader I wanted to be from looking at a variety and picking up the qualities that I wanted to develop.”

Authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman wrote an article for, stating that people around you have a chance of mimicking you, whether you want them to or not. 

“Your peers, your direct reports, your partner or spouse, and your children also have a high probability of practicing the example you set,” wrote Zanger and Folkman.

Senior Nena Jones said she hopes to make everyone feel welcomed and accepted into the team, because that person might need that stability. As captain on the dance team, Jones said she wants to show the other dancers that they can do anything they set their minds to.

“I want to be the reason someone smiles,” said Jones. “ I love making people feel good about themselves and what they’re doing.”

Negative leadership affects everyone, consciously or not.

Being a role model means building up others and focusing on the team or activity as a whole. When someone is doing it for the credit or recognition, toxic situations start to rise. 

Senior John Call said that through his experiences he realized the difference between a good and a bad leader. 

“Both good and bad leaders have an influence on those around them, whether they know it or not,” said Call. “I have found that when I was in a negative environment, I started acting and behaving the same way towards younger kids.”

In an article for written by Tasis Vossos, he stated that negative leadership affects the employees’ performance along with their mental and physical health. In a study taken in May 2011, in the Arizona Department of public safety, 67% of employees said that their director was the main factor of their low morals, while 17% blamed other factors such as job loss, budget cuts, etc.

Positive role models can make a change.

When positive environments are created within activities, individuals begin to branch out and share the positivity with others. K-Highlites Dance Team squad leader Emma Bowers said her experiences lead her to feel better about herself, not only as teammate, but as a person.

“I became more confident in myself and in my decisions and being able to express them to help others,” said Bowers. “That helped me branch out and be able to try out for a leadership position.”

After seeing herself grow, Bowers said she felt others grow around her as well, not only in motivation and attitudes, but also gaining knowledge and awareness of role modeling.

“Now because I know what I am capable of, I do not want to let others down,” said Bowers. “I know what that feels like, and I would never want someone else to feel that way”.

In an article written for Education and Behavior, author Rachel Wise said that those who have a positive role model in their lives are more confident in themselves and have better grades.

“Studies also show that when youth can identify positive role models within their family or school. They are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices regarding nutrition and exercise,” wrote Wise. 

Senior and captain Nena Jones said that if she didn’t have the positive interactions that she received, she would not be on the team.

“Being honest I would’ve quit,” said Jones. “ But I had that positive influence of upperclassmen that made me happy and want to be there.”

In a study written by Miharu Nakanishi and Syudo Yamasaki published on PLOS, a non profit organizer for scientific research studies stated that 89.4% of adolescents could identify a positive role model.

“Role model presence was significantly associated with higher self-regulation among early adolescents,” wrote Nakanishi and Yamasaki for PLOS. “Educational environments should focus on support for adolescents with no role models.”

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