Do You Have a Role Model?

When you aspire, and all your role models are men, seek a female.

Why is this important? I did not realize until recently (no kidding), that men and women are different. I was naive in my thinking about aspirations and leadership styles, communication styles, coaching, mentoring, and development. I have been on a journey and have come to realize, that you owe it to yourself  to seek out role models you respect and can learn from.  When you do that, you can center your sights on what you control and take concrete steps toward your aspirations.  The reality is, you have more control over your destiny than you realize.

Years ago in Atlanta, I joined an organization called Board of Directors Network (BDN). BDN is dedicated to increasing the number of women in executive ranks and on boards and publishes an annual survey and scorecard of how the top public companies are doing. Last year, I attended the annual dinner when Carol B Tome’ of Home Depot (pictured above) was recognized.

When you read Carol’s bio you will understand half of the equation as to why she is one of my role models. The other half has to do with her story. I have heard many male executive role models speak, yet they did not impact me the way Carol did. When Carol spoke,  she blew me away as she outlined – from a woman’s point of view – what it took her to achieve her aspirations. Carol was the first woman I have ever heard speak who walked the talk as 50% of her staff was female. Her speech took us from childhood values, and positive and productive role modeling to saying “yes” to every assignment that comes your way.

Although I do not aspire to her role, Carol is my role model (did I say that already?). She was so authentic in her words and delivery, she made us laugh and cry as she spoke to our hearts. When I hit a crossroad and have a choice or decision to make, her voice and words speak to me.

Carol is not my only role model. I have other role models, including my Grandmother. I learn something from each of my role models – both male and female – yet the reality is, female role models offer  important, valuable, and unique perspectives a male never could.

How about you? Do you participate in outside organizations searching for role models?  How many have you collected along the way?

About the Author

Debbie Brown

Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.


Carrie So

yes. sometimes, we can find ourselves at an no-where land. i always want to be this inspiring person that bring the best out of people. not so much into having people telling me what to do or i telling ppl what to do. feels so much more resourceful and exciting this way.

Debbie Brown

I agree Caroline- good luck to you- and look for organizations to join like BDN- so often I find people looking too narrowly for these role models. The more leadership styles and personalities you expose yourself to the broader perspective you will have. All too often I see women that focus on so few people, their style becomes too rigid for great long term success out in the business world.



This is so interesting to me, especially because I was just talking about how I have so few female career role models in my life. Don’t get me wrong, my mother is amazing– but she is a stay at home mom who revolves her life around her children. I am a competitive academic going to law school to become a media lawyer. It is definitely important to find someone whom you can call your “role model” for your career/life– I’m still working on finding mine 🙂

Debbie Brown

So true- her thoughts were provking – when she said “whatever you need” as assignments came her way- it reminds us that when those opportunities arise- you have to be prepared to say yes and go for it- which does not always come natural to women- “WomenofHR” a call to action- for role models!

Robin Schooling

Debbie – a really intersting post. Role models can inspire us and lead us to think “bigger thoughts.” While I have had both male and female role models, as I reflect upon it, I find that those who had a larger impact in my life HAVE been female. Was it because their gender caused me to more easily identify with them? I’m not sure…but it’s an interesting point to ponder.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *