I have been reading Mentor Leadership by Tony Dungy, and I have not read anything I disagree with. Dungy puts a strong emphasis on building relationships and leading through service. He also discusses the importance of investing time in those we lead. However, as I was reading, there was a part that made me consider the idea of leading without knowing that we are leading. I like to consider this “Unseen Leadership”.
We tend to think about leading as a position or title that one holds. I, however, believe leadership is a way of life and is more about serving those around us. We do not need to have a fancy title or a high paying position to be leaders. Still, there is another level of leadership that is not considered, and that is the idea of leading without knowing we are leading. This is when others, outside of our perceived circle of influence, watch and observe what we do and how we do it. These are the people that read our posts on social media, stand in the background and observe our actions, and are usually people we would never think were noticing us.
This is a real element of leadership we tend to forget or neglect. When I was younger, my dad used to tell me that integrity was doing the right thing even when no one was looking. That definition has always stuck with me. As I have grown older, I have learned that I was missing a part of that definition. Rather than, “Doing the right thing even when no one is looking,” I have found that it should say, “Doing the right thing even when WE THINK no one is looking.” For someone who tries hard to live a life dedicated to service and leadership, this definition means more and more to me every day.
We are surrounded by observers, watchers, and eyes unseen all of the time. We are being scrutinized on everything we say, everything we post, and everything we do; whether we think we are or not. This doesn’t mean we live life to appease others. On the contrary, we should be living life more conscientious of our actions and thoughts. We take careful consideration in what we say, what we post, and how we act. It is not to make others happy, but rather to live a life of integrity, honor, and respect. It’s a focus on living life the right way.
Unseen leadership may be the most powerful form of leadership. It may be easier to do the right thing, serve, honor, and respect those we come into contact with and see face to face, but when we are “alone” in our own world, being observed by others we cannot see, do we still lead as if we can see them? It is during these times that our true character and leadership are shown. Are we living a life of integrity and doing the right thing even when we think no one is watching? We must carefully consider our actions, words, and posts as we traverse our everyday life. Do not let leadership only be when we stand amidst others. Let us live a life of integrity, as we may not know who is watching. Let us consider our unseen leadership in everything we do.
As always, stay humble and serve well!