Invisible leadership

Lisa Haneberg:

Invisible leadership feels more like doing the best things without yielding power. Invisible leaders influence the system and people by being a partner.

 “A leader is most effective when people barely know he exists. When his work is done his aim fulfilled his troops will feel they did it themselves.” Lao Tzu

How do you select hire, measure, and retain invisible leaders? Now that’s the rub. Well, if they love what they do (and they’d have to) retention is probably not the issue. Finding invisible leaders will take more work and a whole new mindset toward hiring criteria. The behavioral interview, so popular today, might not work to find the best invisible leader.

The same applies to facilitation. Somehow this relates to presence, more to do with being than doing. Hence the problem with behaviour-based evaluation.

2 thoughts on “Invisible leadership

  1. Servant of Chaos

    Invisible Leaders

    I love this post on Johnnie Moore’s blog. It has a great quote: A leader is most effective when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, his troops will feel they did it themselves.

  2. Anthony Etherton

    I was surfing the net under ‘Invisible Leaders’ looking for a little cyberspace support and found your site.

    I also work in communication skills, ususally concerning leadership development, and completely embrace the concept of invisible leadership. It may be only one way to do the leadership ‘thing’, but in my estimation, teams prefer to work with, rather than for a leader. My crude interpretation of Lao Tzu’s poetic sentence is, ‘Invisible leaders know when to shut up, let go and let it flow’.

    However; in order to let go, a leader needs a particular quality in large amounts.

    My ‘thing’ is courage, and the pursuit of it in order to get through at least the day, if not hopefully the rest of your life, both personally and professionally.

    The vehicle I use to help those leaders explore and develop their courage to communicate is experiential challenge in real time, real world situations. We’re not talking white water, bridges constructed of balsa wood, of sky diving though. More like the smaller human size challenges you might face walking to you car in the morning, or while you’re taking the dog for a walk. Hard to believe, but occasionally those simple scenarios get hairy. It’s sometimes scary for me as well as them and my biggest challenge is to remain ‘invisible’ when every fibre of my being wants to rescue them, rather than let them wallow. But in the wallowing is the stuff of courage and self knowledge that only the ‘self’ can discover.

    Here’s to invisible leaders everywhere!

    In the words of another philosopher, “Go Johnnie, go, go, go”.

    (Chuck Berry, Johnny B Goode)

    Cheers Anthony


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