When it comes to leadership, many fail to realise that it’s not synonymous with being in charge. Real leadership is never a matter of mere formal authority, it’s about being of service to others, and mobilizing them toward a purpose.
So, you don’t need to be in a position of authority to positively influence those around you. When you step forward and demonstrate leadership, you will contribute value to a project or enterprise–and strengthen your leadership skills. You would also open yourself to new and bigger opportunities.
Here are tips to demonstrate leadership even when you’re not the boss:
Seek mini-mentoring opportunities
You don’t have to rely on formal mentoring structures to make a difference. Sometimes the best way to demonstrate leadership is by reaching out to colleagues/co-workers on very specific activities where they would benefit from some guidance.
Maybe a new co-workers is preparing a presentation to be submitted to a unit head and finding it difficult, you can set aside a time in the day when you’ll not be interfering with your work, to help him/her out. Don’t wait for someone to slap a label on the ways you can serve—these types of mini-mentoring opportunities are all around you.
Develop your informal authority
Developing your informal authority is a way to leverage your expertise and become the go-to person on any given topic. Do you have magic hands when it comes to digital marketing? Can you whip up dazzling pivot tables in excel? Do you know a lot about a particular city or town that your company is considering expanding to?
Hold an informal presentation, send a mail to the unit that’s concerned, or spread the word through friends that you’re excited to help people out on these topics. You’ll quickly be seen as the expert on your issue, no title needed.
Change your lunch break topic of discussion
If your lunch break task also includes a side of gossip and ranting about a colleague, the boss or a challenge in the office, challenge yourself to a week of keeping that negativity on lock down.
Go a step further and instead of grabbing your usual office pal for break, go for your lunch break with someone who is outside of your immediate team or bring along the newest addition to the office. Not only will you grow your network, you’ll also strengthen your ability to connect with a range of different personalities, which is a critical leadership skill.
Become the industry expert
When you’re the boss, time spent managing personnel issues and other employee challenges can prevent you from easily staying on top of the cutting edge issues in your industry.
Do management (and yourself!) a favour by being the person who is known for staying current on important trends in technology, related industries, or general business and leadership topics. Subscribe to industry journals, and set your email news alerts for any topics related to your job that you know will keep you well informed.
Offer to lead a project
Your team probably has a goal or something on the to-do-list that just keeps slipping. Whether it’s refreshing the company website or sending a regular email that goes out every morning, raise your hand and offer to be the one who organises the team and makes an effort to get the project underway.
This way, you’ll be refreshing your project management skills and showing your teammates that you’ll willing to tackle any challenge. As they keep seeing you as a go-to-person for specific, your continue to grow your leadership skills.