Are you a leader with no title or can you be a leader when you aren’t the boss? Good leadership is constantly demonstrated from any position on a team or in a workplace.
When we think of leadership, most of us immediately imagine ourselves leading from a position of power and authority.
The leader of a team. The manager of an office. The executive of a company. Even just the head of a specific project.
That’s the image in most of our minds—the image of someone who has the authority to give orders and have them carried out. A person who is in charge, and so leadership is something expected of you because you have people answering to you.
But in truth, leadership is an ability that you demonstrate even when you’re not in a leadership position. In fact, most leaders only get where they are because they proved that they could lead their peers and counterparts, those working beside them “in the trenches”.
Think of that person you know who is always “looking for work” and is the silent master everyone goes to if they want the answers without having to go to the boss.
Their leadership abilities are what elevated them above their equals, rather than their abilities only becoming apparent when they were elevated to a leadership position.
You may not be the boss, the head honcho, or the person in charge, but you can still be the leader. In fact, the very fact that you’re not the person in charge often gives you a huge advantage! People love to complain about their bosses—the one who’s making them work extra hard on a project—but you, their fellow grunt, won’t be the target of their ire. You can use your leadership skills to rally the troops and pull forward together, working side by side with your fellow teammates to complete the project or reach your goals.
How can you lead from a position of equality? How can you take up the mantle of leadership without the title of boss?
Good Leadership Exudes Positivity
One of the best, most effective traits a leader can develop is positivity, especially in the difficult times. And by difficult, we’re definitely talking about when the workload gets heavy and the task becomes frustratingly complex and the world tilts on its axis like it has through 2020.
You may not be the boss, but you can still lead by the example you set. If your fellow team members see you being positive and smiling through the struggle, that sets a quiet example that they are guaranteed to want to follow.
You never need to say a word, simply continue to maintain that positive attitude during the tough times. That sort of positivity is an attitude that everyone admires, and when people see it in you, they will immediately begin to admire you for it. It’s a great first step down the road to leadership!
Good Leadership Exhibits Empathy and Concern
A good leader cares about those working for and with them. Even if you’re not the boss, you can still show concern for those working alongside you, and you can empathize with their troubles. And trust us, there will always be troubles.
You’d be surprised by how many people struggle in their lives, and they want to feel someone cares. When you prove that you do, it bonds them to you in a way that they would never bond with their boss or the person giving them the orders that are making their life difficult. There are more people suffering quietly today because of the anxiety around the instability of the future and they need someone who cares to support them.
How can you do that? Simple: ask questions. Genuine questions that show you care about them, how they’re feeling, and what they’re dealing with. Offer your help, and make sure that they know you are both available to help and interested in their wellbeing.
It’s a simple gesture, but one that will have hugely positive ramifications. People like to know that others care about them, and it will form a positive bond with them that will build your rapport and establish that relationship more firmly.
Good Leadership Helps People Stay Focused
The task is great and the burden is heavy, but pulling together will help you achieve the impossible!
There will always be things that pull focus, strain your resources, or demand your attention outside of whatever project you’re working on. If people get sidetracked, the whole team suffers. When strength flags and attention wavers, the project slows, and the whole team suffers.
One of the best things you can do is help your whole team stay focused on the task at hand. Easier said than done, we know. But your words can help to “frame” the challenge ahead in a way that will keep your teammates motivated and pushing forward.
Even just putting the task into words can help them to realize that they don’t have as far to go as they expected. It will give you all perspective on what’s left to done, and it will demonstrate to all around you that you have the ability to look beyond the immediate and see the big picture.
Organize Yourself and Others
Being organized is the best way to be productive, and it will ensure that you make the most progress with the time and resources you have.
But don’t let your organization stop with just you! Reach out to those around you and do what you can to help them stay organized and on track as well.
Your team mates won’t want to be “managed”, but if you can find ways to improve productivity while streamlining the work, they’ll certainly want to hear about it. Organization skills are a crucial leadership ability, and now’s your chance to show that you’ve got what it takes to keep everyone organized and on track!
Be the Change
To be a leader, you’ve got to lead. That means being the first one into any challenge, the first to implement new changes, and the first to demonstrate your willingness to tackle whatever is thrown at you.
To lead your team, you’ve got to be out front. Be the change you want to see in your team mates. Model that leadership behavior by leading them into the new, the difficult, and the unknown. Seeing you take that leap will give your fellows the confidence to do so as well—meaning they are now following your lead.
Listen, there are those who are meant to guide others through the challenges we face daily in our lives… and there are those who are not. If you want to succeed as a leader, keep people’s needs at the forefront of how you interact with them with a good balance of communication and organizational skills. This will enable you to continuously provide value and demonstrate your leadership ability.