Jennifer and Bettina

Climbing out of my snow hole, I received a letter from home.  No mean feat as I was somewhere in the Arctic Circle and a month into a winter deployment with 3 Commando Brigade.  It was the news I had dreamed of from Joyce– we were going to have a baby!  I never doubted for one moment we were going to have a daughter.  After all, in our Squadron the other guys wives had daughters and I read a scientific reason, too detailed to go into, that runners fathered girls and as we were all athletes we were all happy with that reasoning!

We had dreamed of having a daughter and that she would be confident; kind; have strong and independent opinions/ views on her world; humorous; positive; creative and talented.  Jennifer is all that and more.  What we hadn’t considered and talked about was that she would be a role model.

I am not sure Jennifer ever consciously decided to be a role model for her younger sister Bettina.  I suppose none of us set out to be a model for others, but it is a role that Jennifer has assumed from an early age.  By her very nature Jennifer has always been a leader for Bettina, who is very vulnerable (as you would expect for someone who copes with a learning disabilities and autism).  Jennifer is Bettina’s hero.  She adores her and watches everything she does as she looks for clues in how to manoeuvre through life’s mazes.

As leaders, whether we realise it or not, we are role models for others.  As leaders I believe we must live our lives role modelling our behaviour.  As Jennifer is the perfect role model for Bettina, I thought I would use her model as an example.

What does a Role Model look like?

Jennifer’s Model in 5:

  • There are no days off from being a role model. You are being observed constantly!
  • From being a young girl, Jennifer has always looked out for the ‘under dog’ and helped them up
  • Jennifer is always respectful to others – it doesn’t matter to her whether they can do anything for her
  • Jennifer has empathy – she tries to see the world through your eyes
  • Jennifer has a strong work ethic and does everything with passion and enthusiasm

Leadership stuff I have learned from Jennifer:

  • She prioritises other people’s needs before her own
  • She is an Advocate for Bettina – she speaks up on her behalf and represents her wishes when Bettina cannot
  • Jennifer has her own code of conduct and values which are individual to her. She is always consistent with her code.
  • Jennifer takes her role seriously – her image and how people see her has always been important to her
  • Jennifer is courageous. She feels the fear and does it anyway and it is because of this that Bettina acts with courage too.

When you are in a position of responsibility you are a role model.  Your example will always have an impact, so it is important to choose well and be consistent.