Projecting and Reflecting

A simple principle about leadership

Projecting and Reflecting

Our followers will reflect whatever you project. It is just that simple. It is also just that scary.

Many years ago when our children were very young, I was joking about their behavior (and by behavior I mean misbehavior) in Sunday School one morning. I jokingly said that they must have learned that behavior while playing with the other children. The response from the teacher was humorous but it stung my heart. It became one of the most haunting little statements that anyone ever made to me when I was a young parent. Here is what she said: “Children only do what they see at home.”

I was suddenly mortified. What if that was true? (And I believe that it is to a large extent.) What if those little eyes really are watching my every move? Fast forward now many years later and I can tell you that my children have grown into incredible adults. They are each wonderful parents and role models for their own children now.

But stay with me, please. This is not an article about parenting. It is really a quick article about leadership outside of the home. And it is about how our followers perceive us. In other words, how do they perceive the leadership message or methodology that I am projecting? And can I tell what I am projecting by how they reflect my leadership?


Knowing a positive leadership style and method and then projecting that will have a lot to do with whether or not you are successful as a leader. Further, understanding the impact of that projection and then how your followers perceive and reflect your leadership style and methods back to you and ultimately onward to their followers is something that we MUST know and understand as objectively as possible. Here are a few things that leaders who are emotionally intelligent and emotionally agile will project:

  • They will project the ability to respond and adapt their leadership style and methods when the reflection that is returning is not what they believe they are projecting because they are self-aware.
  • They will project a “presence” about them that is polished, professional, and poised even under pressure because they are both self-aware and socially aware.
  • They will project authority and confidence without being bossy and braggadocios because they are self-disciplined.


And equally important, here are some things that will be reflected back to us if we are projecting positive leadership styles and messages.

  • Our followers will reflect peace as a result of our ability to respond and adapt to the emotional leadership landscape.
  • Our followers will reflect confidence in us, in the organization, and in themselves when we are poised and professional in the tense moments.
  • Our followers will reflect pride that is rooted and grounded in real accomplishments and not just hollow words.

Let’s face it, you can’t control how someone perceives you. Their perceptions will always be viewed through the lens of their own emotions and experiences. You can do everything right and still not be perceived in a positive manner. But we can, and we must make every effort to project a positive leadership style and have that projection validated objectively through peer reviews and “360” feedback from our followers.

If our followers really are a reflection of our leadership, then how do your followers “look” to you?

How about hitting the “Tweet Quote” button above and help us spread this leadership message?

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Leader -|- Follower -|- Guide

I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

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