I believe the argument that aspiring towards a certain person and basically 'idolising' them is an evolutionary trait that not only we but other species show to.
It becomes very practical in the case of practical skills such as hunting. For example, if there is one person better than others at hunting due to a unique and efficient technique that person uses, then it would only be natural for the others to follow this person and imitate them to have the same advantage.
And using a modern example, sport personalities, actors, singers, politicians and other famous people can often transmit some very positive traits to younger and less experienced people.
Eg. A sport personality might have a certain technique that you imitate, a singer may have a style that you like to imitate, an actor has the charisma that you wish you had, etc.
And for this, I think it is not only natural but also beneficial for us to follow people who can pass on skills and talents to a wide audience.
However, I think we must be exceedingly careful as when we idolise someone, we not only pick up all the good traits but also the bad and habits that celebrities, family members or other role models can practice. And these days we can get so desperate to worship people that we end up following people who's bad traits heavily outweigh the good and in this case having role models can not only be seen as a useless thing but as negative one too. Eg. Habits such as smoking, drugs, attitude, etc. can all be transmitted from the wrong idols and be picked up by others.
In conclusion, I feel that role models are generally a great idea as they enable us to improve ourselves from watching and learning. However, I also feel that we should be very careful in our choice of following others as it can lead to others picking up bad habits and losing individuality by merely following trends all the time.
Following in the footsteps of anyone is bad, it doesn't matter whether that person is a great leader at the time or if you can acquire one of their skills for your own advantage. While yes, respecting people is something, a good thing, considering them as your role model is bad and potentially dangerous; here's why... When some one is your role model you're giving them serious power over them, they can change the way you think or act and once some has that power it has high risk. Think of someone like HITLER, a respected leader, a very good one might i add however when he turned evil and started thrusting his ideas upon the people of Germany those whom had idolized him or considered him their role model, followed him into what was without a doubt a very bad event. I rest my case, thanks you madame chairman and distinguished guests.