Yes, they are.
They listen to your every word. They study your body language. They note what you like and whom you favor – and what you don’t like and whom you disfavor.
What am talking about? And who are they?
What I’m talking about is this: Great leaders – including servant-leaders in the workplace – operate in a fishbowl, so to speak; their followers – that’s the they – are always watching them.
I’ve noticed this throughout my career.
Early in my career, we junior folks studied the more senior team leaders closely. At times, we acted like workplace Kremlinologists, reading large meaning into their smallest actions. We did this because we wanted to understand the senior team members, to act like them and to serve them well.
I’ll bet some of you have had the same experience.
But as my career advanced – as I became a senior team member myself – I almost forgot my early experience.
That is, I almost forgot that, once I matured more in my leadership, the junior team members were watching me closely.
Occasionally, a situation would remind me of that fact.
Once, I was in a big meeting – the senior people sitting at the table, the junior people sitting around and behind them. I was the most senior person in attendance. Apparently, my body language and tone of voice suggested to the assembled folks that I was displeased with whatever project was being discussed. Shortly after the meeting, one of my junior colleagues was kind enough to tell me that “word on the street” had it that I was angry and going to kill the project. Everyone was panicked.
Wow, I didn’t have any murderous intent towards the project. But I realized that my followers, after watching me closely, had concluded otherwise.
I caused a lot of anxiety without meaning to do so. Looking back, I wish I had conducted myself differently – and better.
Leader, they’re watching you.
That means that every minute of every working day, you are communicating to your followers. With and without words. So, always be mindful, be conscious and be careful.
Oh, and don’t let your honest humility – a primary virtue of a servant-leader* – lull you into a false sense of security on this. Because you’re humble, you may think your followers aren’t watching you.
But they are.
What do you think, leader? Are they really watching you?
Let us know.
As always, we appreciate your views.
And don’t forget to download our latest ebook, Servant Leadership in the Workplace: A Brief Introduction. It’s free!
* Humility, generosity and foresight are the “Three Cardinal Virtues of a Servant-Leader”
Enjoy these two posts on humility: “4 Reasons Humility is a Cardinal Virtue of Servant Leadership” and “15 Great Quotes About Humility”