Chapter 3: Secret leadership is not seen but it is heard.

Leadership talent spotting is not just about assessing intelligence or gravitas or specific qualities, it’s about seeing an inherent attitude to others. It could be empathy. It could be vision. It could be the investment of time and energy in other people. Leaders do not come in a single flavour, there are some who lead from the front and others who are barely noticed.

The ultimate democracy has multiple centres of power, where leaders have different personality traits and attributes. There is a balance in focus across the organisation, which is complimentary instead of counterproductive. The leaders can sit in multiple areas as all can create a ripple effect of influence. These ripples are instigated through verbal communication, regular and usually brief conversations, and collaboration around ideas.

Ripples of influence

If the leadership choose to cascade of information through company wide meetings, it only works well if there is written record to catch people that are missing. However in writing it down the message may shift in emphasis and may be misinterpreted. To improve the cascade creating the desired cultural change, it needs regular reinforcement; it’s a ripple of influence to inspire others. Frequent, short conversations held throughout the office are very effective, traditionally called ‘management by walking around’. These ripples and small conversations are basically like ‘positive gossip’, so travel fast.

The conversations can relate to organisational vision or just conveying a passion for certain causes, developing a picture of the potential of each organisation. I see it as a series of ‘whispers’ which build momentum the more they are expressed. This form of communication is particularly effective for conveying values and desired behaviours, especially if delivered with charisma, consistency and confidence.

If you’ve watched the ‘Horse Whisperer’ then when I talk about a people whisperer, hopefully you’ll understand what I mean. If you haven’t seen it, then they are empaths; people that can intuitively read the emotions, motives, priorities and potential of others. They act according to their assessment in support of that person without asking what they feel or need. Obviously, they may choose to verify the action is appropriate in a later conversation.

Leadership is not just adapting style to organisation and individual needs. Its about being a whisper of influence, creating a resonance within a culture. Its creation of a slow pulse of inspiration that’s not vocal, it’s often non vocal. A smile towards someone who looks like they are struggling with an issue to encourage them to engage and discuss the blockers with you. A drip feed of reassuring nods, acknowledgement and prompting the feeling of being supported. These build into a pulsing force that’s almost intangible but creates momentum, strengthening and transitioning a cultural change. The transition from passivity to enthused change is incremental and gradually builds into an exponential shift. Small pushes that compound into a large push, a push which could help solve the biggest issues we face.

In a way, this flow of encouragement is like familial love, just in the context of work and with appropriate boundaries! It’s affirmation and reinforcement of self-worth and achievement. It’s creating a culture of genuine caring and investment in every individual’s value. It’s a form of love, albeit rarely acknowledged. It’s why people stay however much they moan about an organisation 😊🤔. Suddenly they’ve been in a job that’s just a job and they’ve been there 20 years. Because it’s not just a job, its the people they work with at every level.

The rest of the book chapters are published here:

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Love Ruth.


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