Visible and invisible leaders

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

One of the most splendid leadership lessons learned happened just a few years ago. In 2011 the headlines focused on the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movement. I remember watching the news when a cable TV program interviewed an active and vocal protester. The person claims their movement comprises ordinary people with the same shared concern and does not have a “leader” representing the groups. What happened later is that a few days later, personalities began to emerge as they “led” the groups and their movement.

Without a leader, it is impossible to have any “movement” or “group.” Get a few people together, and a leader will emerge. You can put two or three kids together for a school project, and eventually, the leader will emerge from the group. That is just the way it is.

At the beginning of any project, team, mission, or movement, people involved need a visible leader defining goals and expectations. The leader’s visibility is essential in pulling the people together and pooling the resources directing them toward accomplishing desired goals.

People need someone who knows the way and can show the way. Why? Because people do what people see. Your leadership should be visible because of the following reasons:

1. Leadership operates based on trust.

Trust is the foundation of leadership. Where there is no trust, there is only “play-acting,” and it never produces excellent results. People follow you only as closely as they trust you. When you model what you require your team to do, you earn the right to be followed. Trust becomes the leader’s currency, and the example displayed by your behavior is your bank account.

2. Leadership naturally stems from moral authority.

Words can influence temporarily, but the long-term influence results from seeing a leader’s lifestyle. Genuine credibility emerges from the moral authority we earn through our actions.

3. Leadership’s gauge of effectiveness is the followers.

If you want to know how effectively you lead, your people are a mirror, and they mirror the attitude and values of their current leaders. But leadership effectiveness does not stay here, it must level up. And here, you will see that Level Up Leaders who were very visible at the start would now intentionally make themselves invisible.

Level Up Leadership comes when the leader needs to step aside and allow the people to realize their potential. Micro-managing leaders and helicopter bosses are the antitheses of this leadership principle.

• Leaders must be necessary at first but would eventually work themselves “out of a job,” so to speak.

• They are irreplaceable at first but work themselves to being replaceable. This is why they get promoted and go places.

• They recognize when they need to speak and when it is to shut up and allow the voices of the people to be heard.

In a sense, Level Up Leaders transfer ownership and find themselves most helpful when their people believe in themselves and accomplish things. This is the spirit behind all those talks and training on “Empowerment” and “Enablement.” These excellent and effective leaders lead, and then they get out of the way. They know it is not about the leader but the mission and the team. As I am prone to say in my leadership training, “Leadership begins with you, but it’s not about you!”

Visibility? Scriptures say: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  – Proverbs 29:18 Invisibility? Lao Tzu says: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” And I guess the pinnacle of this and the combination of which is expressed by Benjamin Disraeli when he says: “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” And he is right.



(Francis Kong will run his Level Up Leadership 2.0 Master Class Online on Aug. 17, 18, and 19. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)


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