Tom Hanks at the 2017 People's Choice Awards at The Microsoft Theatre, L.A. Live, Los Angeles.

Tom Hanks at the 2017 People's Choice Awards at The Microsoft Theatre, L.A. Live, Los Angeles. Featureflash Photo Agency/

Be a Role Model Like Tom Hanks

The actor demonstrates in ways large and small what it means to lead by example.

Tom Hanks is well respected in the world of acting: he’s played roles as varied as a teenage boy in an adult body (“Big”); a slow witted but kind man who does fantastic things (“Forrest Gump”); and a pilot who saves his passengers by landing his plane on a river (“Sully”). And there are many more—he’s played a wide variety of characters over his decades-long career.

And yet in each of those roles, he brings his humanity, that part of him that we all recognize to be Tom Hanks. It’s hard to put your finger on what that is, but if we know a bit about him outside of his acting work, we may be able to see the real Tom Hanks.

Rumor has it that he once stopped what he was doing to help Girl Scouts sell their cookies on the streets of Los Altos. He also gave a New York City cabdriver tickets to his Broadway show, including a backstage visit afterwards. These examples show a humanity that shines through in every part Hanks plays.

Hanks is in demand and is a role model for other actors. You too can be a role model for leadership when you:

Bring who you are to work every day and aren’t afraid to let your true self shine. Leadership isn’t a role you play, it is an extension of who you are. As long as you stay connected to the real you as a human being, others will learn from you and work harder to take on your best qualities, becoming leaders in their own right. The path to becoming a better letter is through your work on becoming a better human.

Know what you value and demonstrate it consistently. It doesn’t work well to say you value “integrity” if you continually fail to show it to others. You will do best by beginning to be very clear about who you are and what you believe in and then asking others to hold you accountable to that while being consistent in the behaviors that demonstrate it. And if you slip up, sincerely apologize and keep working hard to consistently demonstrate what you value.

Take the high road. In a world of greed and shallow quests for fame, Tom Hanks shows humility and kindness. It’s what he’s known for, and at least part of the reason why directors clamor to put him in their movies. Likewise, in your world, you might notice other leaders vying for power and stepping on others in the process. Take the high road and demonstrate humility and kindness, and you’ll have others insisting on working for or with you so they can learn from your example.

Tom Hanks is (literally) a role model. He sets an example for all actors to follow. Why not set an example for all leaders to follow?

Mary Jo Asmus is an executive coach and a former corporate executive who has spent the past 16 years as president of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC.

Image via Featureflash Photo Agency/

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