I read an interesting blog post by "Every Square Inch" this morning called, "Leaders Are Always On". It expresses so well the take home point one of my young leaders is learning. Leaders are watched more carefully than others.
As this young woman is learning, leaders are accountable for even the appearance of their actions. People are watching. We often think in terms of what we did, what we said, and what we really meant versus what someone else thinks they heard. How often do we think in terms of how things appeared to others?
Appearances can deceiving. My medical charts describe me as a "pleasant, middle-aged woman"; and generally speaking, I am. Two recent comments shed a different light on the subject though. "When I met you, I thought you were really intimidating. Then I got to know you and found out you're just straightforward and I like it." My young leader framed the same concept a different way. "Well, most people think you mean 'my way or the highway' when you say something, but I know better than they do. I know you mean, 'this is what I think' and I can tell you what I think too and you'll listen and we will talk about it."
Yes, appearance can be deceiving. I am both pleasant and straightforward and not particularly intimidating to those who really know me. But I spend most of my time with those who don't really know me. This is an interesting paradox if I'm to follow the command to be "edifying all those who hear". Finding the balance point between caring too much about others' opinions and "no appearance of evil" is a challenge.
ESI's point is well taken; leaders are always "on" since people are always watching. Perhaps good questions to ask ourselves are, "in what ways am I leading and where are others watching?
P.S. - I'm very proud of my young leader! She's learning this lesson more quickly than most adults.