There are some developers in this world that will never have to look for a job. They have built a reputation big enough to have a whole community following them. You might already know some of these developers, like @jeresig, @dhh, @rasmus or many others …
I think it’s important that you know and follow at least some of them. Development is more than just code, and reading from dev superstars is part of a programing culture that helps being a good developer. If you don’t follow the “lead” developers in your domain, I suggest you start doing so.
But what I want to talk about today is not just a leader, but a role model, the one developer you want to be like. It does not have to be some kind of God-developer that you should worship, but more someone you think alike.
It’s highly likely that a developer who has built a great reputation has a great mind, so being inspired by him/her might expose you to wise words. You don’t need to agree with everything your role model says, on the contrary, challenging thoughts lead to better reflexion, but having someone to follow will give you food for thought.
As far as I am concerned, my programing role model would be Jeff Atwood. On a technical level, we are quite different, but we share the same vision of programing, a vision where a good developer is not a smart robot who can code fast in many languages, using all the design pattern there is to know (although this is a plus), but a human being who understands the purpose of his/her code, the need of its users, the importance of his team, and who can tell when not to code.
What about you ? Who is your programing role model ? Why ?