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22 February 2018

Do you glow? A piece about lightening bugs and informal leadership

Lightening bugs transform chemical energy into light in a process coined bioluminescence. The metamorphosis serves to attract mates and acts as a natural defense against predators. Glowing is thus a key survival feature for such insects that come out in the night.

Looking at your network, have you ever noticed that some people seem to be positive energy magnets? Whenever I come across such individuals I can’t help it to imagine those persons ‘glowing’. They radiate a sense of openness and confidence that attracts peers and make you want to stick around. In a business context, they seem to find their way through any situation by deploying their charismatic personalities.

Hence the question, is ‘glowing’ the key to informal authority?

Is ‘glowing’ the key to informal authority

I’m not the first one to look into the relationship between chemicals and leadership. Marketing guru Simon Sinek has already identified how to balance 4 hormones to make your way to the top in his talk ‘Why leaders eat last’. Sinek explains that developing serotonin and oxytocin (selfless, ‘good’ hormones) over dopamine and endorphin (selfish, ‘bad’ hormones) creates trustworthy environments prone to better team performances.

Working in consulting allows me to be immersed in different work environments and to be in contact with different personalities at work. I can confirm that managers that create a safe environment for their employees foster stronger performing teams. To name an example, feedback mechanisms and a flat structure contribute to building a climate of trust at The House of Marketing.

Based on my observations, I’d like to share a few personal features that I believe make people more radiant than others, in business and in life. The focus is on the attitude such people adopt when interacting with peers.

  1. Self-confidence. People who shine appreciate themselves and are confident about their own individuality. They fit in without fading into the organization. No ‘fake it till you make it’. They try, they fail, they acknowledge and they try again, but always staying close to their own values. Their body language also carries out confidence by means of smiling, standing straight and maintaining a direct eye-to-eye contact with others.

  1. They keep a sense of wonder that makes them easy to talk to in any situation. I’ve had discussions with recognized field experts and multinational CEOs in situations where I felt out of my comfort zone without feeling an inch of condescendence from their side. These people keep their door - or at least their mailbox - open to everyone. They are generous about their knowledge and share it to make other people grow.


  1. Self-Respect. The energy you give cannot exceed the energy you create for yourself. Being connected with one’s passions is key to charge your batteries. So, think about it: What energizes you? Do you have something to get back to when you’re not in balance? For me this is keeping time windows for myself where I can explore my creativity or connect with nature.


To conclude, leadership has historically been defined by rules and formal promotion procedures. However, my point is that as social animals we are looking to rally around people who convey a certain aura. Some call it ‘influence’ or ‘authority’. I’ll coin it ‘Glow’.

The people who inspired me to write this article don’t especially belong to the top layers of hierarchies. Rather than status, it’s their personality that makes them special. They demonstrate a strong social influence and manage to build alliances quickly.

This piece of writing is far from exhaustive but I hope that the 3 points listed above will encourage you to shine and to attract other fire flies around you. At The House of Marketing I’m lucky to be surrounded by passionate people. If you need a little kick, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of marketing consultants.