Subscribe to the DTBG Weekly BlogSubscribe Now

Worry not who knows of you.

There is a quote attributed to Confucius that says, “Worry not who knows of you; seek to be worth knowing.” This is an important message for all of us, especially aspiring leaders and people already in formal leadership positions.

I have written other posts to talk about the fact that leadership is not about rank, position or title and that leadership is not about you. One of the quotes I like from Simon Sinek is, “To be a leader you need one thing – followers. It has nothing to do with rank or authority. You are a leader when others raise their hand and volunteer to go in the direction you set.”  Based on this we could make a slight alteration to the Confucius quote at the start of this post for people who strive to be leaders, “Worry not who knows of you; seek to be worth following.”

Why am I writing about this? Because I see people in formal leadership positions continually posting “Look at me” content on LinkedIn, and I assume on other social media platforms, about what they did, seemingly as a way to show that they are a leader. If you are a leader you do not need to post about or boast about you or your actions. If you show up to help your team get through a tough project with a tight timeline, show up to work with your people working the nightshift, show up on a holiday to bring a meal to your people who are at work and not at home with their families, or show up to help your people when they are overwhelmed by the workload then good for you. That is what leaders do. If you take a selfie and post it on social media to show the world what a great leader you are, then it appears that you are not doing it for the right reasons. Simply do it, and do not post about, or boast about what you did.

If you feel the need to post on LinkedIn then post articles and videos that would be of value to others. Or, post stories about the great work the men and women you have the privilege to lead are doing, and be sure to leave yourself out of the story and out of any accompanying picture. Rob Newson is a retired US Navy Captain and 30 year Navy SEAL who is now the V.P. of Strategy and Vision with the Philadelphia 76ers. His last assignment with the Navy was with the White House Military Office. He talks about attending staff meetings where they shared Hero Stories. These were not stories about the great things the people in attendance did, but stories about things that the men and women in uniform did every day to demonstrate the core values of the various branches of the US military.

Great leaders don’t care about being on the front cover of a magazine or about getting the accolades. They do not want the spotlight shining on them, they want the spotlight shining on the men and women they have the privilege to lead, who are on the front lines doing the work, who are the face and the future of their organization, and who every day demonstrate the core values of the organization and their commitment to support and advance the mission and vision of the organization.

Worry not who knows of you; seek to be worth knowing and worth following. Simply do the work and lead and do not post about or boast about it.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning and enjoy the journey. The Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop was created for aspiring leaders and frontline leaders to help you on your leadership journey.

Brian Willis