Leadership is just as much about expressing your heart as it is about expressing your thoughts, ideas, and insights. One of the most valuable things we can do as a leader is to offer someone unexpected leadership. We do this when we come through with a meaningful act of support, encouragement, candor, or guidance that is unexpected by the recipient but intentional by us.
Most of us find it challenging to ask for help. We’ve been taught to be independent from a young age. To counter this mindset that independence is always best, it’s important for leaders to stay aware of who in our lives is struggling, needs motivation or would benefit from a gesture of support. When we practice empathy, we demonstrate our ability to share the feelings of another. Empathy means we are communicating to understand, instead of our typical focus on communicating to be understood.
Unexpected leadership is empathy in the sense that it’s the action your awareness inspires. I encourage you to scan your environment this week with an eye for who you can serve and support best, in life or at work. Perhaps you know someone who:
- Is new to their role at work and would benefit from someone sharing informally how things get done on the team, or who the “go-to” people are for certain tasks and asks.
- Is a bit overwhelmed at home and would appreciate a home-cooked meal or a surprise dinner delivery.
- Is struggling to level up with a particular skill and would value coaching and mentoring until they are ready to flourish on their own.
Life is best when we experience it in community. The support we proactively provide others builds connection and inspires trust. Don’t let the week finish without taking time to share unexpected leadership. Not only will you make a difference to someone, but you’ll also be reminded of the joy of serving and supporting others.