Leadership Spotlight

Choose to Take Action

Stock image of a female speaking at a business meeting.

In July 2010, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched the If You See Something, Say Something campaign to raise public awareness regarding the indicators of terrorism and related crimes, as well as the importance of alerting state and local law enforcement as necessary.1 It exhorts people who observe acts that appear questionable or emphatically wrong to speak up.

All Americans have the responsibility to help keep communities safe by remaining aware of their work and home surroundings and reporting suspicious activity. They do not need to hold a position of authority or wait until someone asks to say something.

Similarly, everyone—in a leadership role or not—has an obligation to speak up when an opportunity for improvement becomes clear.

Formal leaders are not the only people who can recognize problems and opportunities, shape a vision or strategy, interpret the social environment, communicate well, or have a bias for action. You do not need to wait until you get to the top, fill the right role, or find the perfect place at the perfect time.

Many self-motivated actions can impact issues you care about. Leverage whatever resources you have and inspire others to follow suit. Be intentional in everything you do, take a stand, defend your beliefs, and speak about the topics that matter to you whenever you have the chance. Continually strive to recognize opportunities for innovation or improvement, and lead from where you are right now, regardless of your title or position.

You can be a leader and should choose to do so. Lead through example by how you communicate, manage relationships, act, and react at work and in your daily life. Always remember that you never know who may watch or model your behavior.

Where do you stand as a leader?

Supervisory Special Agent Glen Bartolomei, a counterterrorism instructor in the Executive Programs Instruction Unit at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight. He can be reached at gbartolomei@fbi.gov.


1 Originally implemented and trademarked by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, this campaign was licensed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.