Invisible Heroes in Extraordinary Times

Invisible Heroes in Extraordinary Times

Donald Dunphy
July 2020

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that essential workers have, by and large, been the invisible workers in the past.  They play crucial roles in proving products and services, yet are all but ignored or taken for granted by most of us. David Zweig, a lecturer and journalist calls these support teams and workers “Invisibles.”  He says, “Quietly, modestly, they do their work diligently, and without a desperate need for personal recognition. They can be found in almost any profession and at every organizational level. Invisibles are people who feel ambivalent about gaining widespread recognition for the work they do—and sometimes they’re flat-out averse to it. It’s not that they don’t appreciate praise. They’re quite happy to be recognized for their work by their peers, for instance. But that’s not what drives them. What motivates Invisibles is the work itself.”

The Invisibles are the everyday heroes that have kept the wheels on our country …who have always enabled our country to move forward. Zweig adds that he feels Invisibles can make great leaders. “It’s the willingness—even eagerness—to accept responsibility that can turn an Invisible into a real leader.”

Fleet management is an essential role in our organizations filled with everyday heroes. They manage  the cars and trucks that keep products moving, put first-responders wherever they need to be and get salespeople and students to their required destinations. They have been indispensable during the pandemic. Drivers stepped up to do more deliveries and first responders worked overtime facing actual danger to support communities. School bus drivers became food delivery services providing for students at home who relied on school meals. Fleet departments worked steadily and quietly to get the job done.

Yet fleet mostly goes invisible to the public.

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

"You see, if we buy into this idea of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, then we have to first convince ourselves that were ordinary in the first place," says author and motivational speaker Kevin Brown. "You know, I don't think that's how it was drawn up."

Brown is a to keynote speaker at NAFA’s Virtual Institute & Expo (I&E) in September. His work focuses on his philosophy of The Hero Effect®, i.e., being your best when it matters the most. He observes this is a behavior  we  have seen played out daily.
"Boy, did life turn everything on its head," Brown says. "The yogurt hit the fan with COVID-19 and everything changed, everything stopped. We've learned some lessons as we go through this, and I think about this in the context of being a hero to the people you serve and serve with right now."

Everyday heroism has been featured in the media illustrating the work of essential workers and volunteers in their strong desire to make progress for the greater good. A common thread to these stories is that these individuals extend themselves far more than they are required to. While this is particularly true now, Brown suggests it has always been. “What does a hero look like? I've been chasing that question for more than a decade I've been all over the world talking about this idea,” he says. “They excel by pouring themselves into the people around them at work and home.”
Brown adds that there is a mistaken belief that such heroes are the unicorns of the working world. “A lot of people will tell you that heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things, but I don't think there's a person on this planet who shows up every single day that was put here to make an ordinary contribution.  If we permit ourselves to be ordinary then we start to develop a pattern where we just show up and we do what we must do we do, what's required of us. Our definition of a hero is not ordinary people doing extraordinary things, but of an extraordinary person who chooses not to be ordinary.”

Brown says, “Leadership doesn't stop during a crisis…leadership is revealed in a crisis. That is the time we step up and demonstrate what we have been training for throughout our entire career. A leader’s role isn't to know everything, their role is to know the next step and to surround themselves with people who make the team strong in areas that make you better than you ever could have been on your own. Heroes know how to put the right talent in the right spot heroes know how to draw the best out of people.”

Be a part of NAFA's 2020 Virtual Institute & Expo, September 14-17, and experience Kevin Brown's keynote presentation, the Fleet Excellence Award (FLEXY) Winners panel, the OEM panel discussion, the Pandemic Response & Recovery presentation and more. Find out more at

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