A Leader In Disguise

In Transformers, the Autobots and Decepticons were robots. They were also in disguise.

Depending on the series, the Transformers would take on different forms. During Beast Wars, the Transformers took the shape of animals. In the movies and most of the other Transformers series, they took the form of vehicles or household items.

The cartoon was entertaining as most of the cast didn’t know there were robots in disguise going about their business right in front of them. This got me thinking. Are you a leader in disguise?

A leader in disguise

Image by e.r.w.i.n.

You may think you’re not in a position of leadership. You’re just an employee doing your job. You have no title or position of authority.

Thoughts of hopelessness and frustration may overwhelm you as you think you have no power to change the organization. You’d be wrong though. You have power. You have authority.

In fact, you’re a leader in disguise.

At this point, you might be a bit confused. How am I a leader? I don’t have the power to change the current business environment.

Leadership goes beyond a title and official recognition. Leadership goes to the heart.

Leadership is about the influence you have over others. And I’m sure you have influence over those you work with.

Don't be a Decepticon leader

Image by Brian Summers

Hopefully you’re not the office gossip. And yet they hold an unofficial leadership position.

Think about the influence this person holds.

Rumors spread quickly once they spill forth from their mouth

Employees are turned against each other by what they say

Emotions are changed when this person enters the room

Much like the evil Decepticons, the gossip is in disguise. He holds influence. It’s negative influence but it’s influence none-the-less.

The office gossip plays the role of a leader in disguise.

Yet this isn’t the type of leader in disguise I want you to be. And I hope it’s not the kind of leader in disguise you want to be either.

I want you to be a positive force in your organization. One that has the ability to move through the ranks of leadership and become known as a great leader.

This requires a different tact than the office gossip.

Be an Autobot leader

Image by Brian Summers

Instead, be like the Autobots. Be a positive leader in disguise.

Offer to help on projects that you have skills for

Put in your best efforts

Speak up when injustice happens

Follow through on your commitments

Take initiative

Be honest

Find a way to be influential within your organization without being negative. Be willing to offer a helping hand. Find ways to improve the organization. Be a shining example to those you work with.

When you begin implementing these actions, you’ll become a leader whether or not you’re recognized with an official title. If the title never comes, be satisfied with being a leader in disguise.

Question: Have you seen the influence of a leader in disguise? What made him or her stand out? Please share your story in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Joe ~ You have such a way of putting things and lessons so that they are instantly clear to anyone at all. “Leadership goes to the heart.” Absolutely and the best and most powerful of all leaders, whether anyone has ever granted that individual a title or position to reflect it. Thank you for another great post to share along to others.

  • Joe – I love the analogy. Others are watching what we do and what we say – its before we ever receive the official title of leader that the skills and discipline are being honed. You can see the results in how others react to a co-worker’s promotion either “Really? He was made supervisor?” or “I knew she would get the job, she’s awesome.”

    • Thanks Jon. I figured you’d like the comparison.

  • Shirley Wood

    I agree that every cog in the wheel holds some type of accountability towards leadership. Hopefully, most employees are striving to achieve personal professional goals which would require them to assume that attitude. The office gossip and their cohorts are the exception and not the rule, typically. Unfortunately because everyone knows who they (the gossips) are, everyone is prone on occasion to be sucked in when the current gossip may be of interest to them.
    There are organizations where assuming leadership roles is not appreciated. Those would be organizations which are run by folks who do not see the value in nurturing employees to become future leaders of the company. In this case, it is not a place of opportunity.

    • That’s true Shirley, some organizations don’t like new leadership coming up. I think it has a lot to do with them being fearful that they’ll be replaced one day, which will happen anyways.

  • Great post.

    • Thanks Jessica! What’s one thing you took away from the post?

      • Just the ‘leader in disguise’ thing and the issue of not being in authority made me think that to gain ‘leader in disguise’ status, you’d actually have to be a servant and lead by example. Since you’re not actually ranked higher than anyone else, that’d be the only way to achieve it. And that’s a good way to lead.

        • You’ve got a great thought pattern going on about servant-hood being a great way to lead. In fact, I think, even with a title, that’s the best way to lead!

  • What a great phrase Joe “Leaders in disguise”. Love it, I think it should be your next book. So many people in organizations don’t understand the level of influence they can have even without a formal title.

    • Hmmm… That would make a good title though I had something else in mind. I’ll file it away and keep it there for future reference.

  • We all influence those around us through our actions, attitude, and behavior. The key is to make sure our influence is positive and not negative. Great post!

  • Pingback: The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of May 26th | Brian Dodd on Leadership()

  • Too many to list here Joe. People don’t follow those kind of leaders.