For the longest time there has been a correlation between top managers, executives, and the act of leadership. While the expectation that people in high level positions should provide leadership, the actual act of leadership isn’t always guaranteed by those who reside in the highest ranks.
I attribute this to the widely misunderstood fact that leadership is not a position, it is an activity. And while the buzz around being a leader continues to grow with close parallels to politics and business, the only genuine way to be a leader, is to lead.
The great thing about this simple observation is that unlike high level management opportunities which may be limited, leadership as an opportunity isn’t exclusive. In fact leading is something that almost anyone can do, any day of the week, from anywhere they may be.
First though, before anything can be accomplished, one must realize the boundless opportunity for leadership so they can begin to focus on how they lead each day rather than waiting to be put into a position to lead. After all, in todays performance economy, sometimes you have to do the job to get the job. So showing leadership even when it isn’t expected may just make you a shoe in for the next level.
Ready to lead? Here are some ways anyone can lead without title while subsequently making your organization better.
- Kill the mill – People love to gossip. It has led to a multi billion dollar industry known as the tabloids. This productivity killing behavior isn’t limited to the stars. People love to spread company gossip around and much like many of the tabloids, the information isn’t always completely true (or true at all). When given the opportunity to carry on a rumor or squash it, the leader knows what to do.
- Remember The Golden Rule – It is so easy to get caught up in the finger pointing, name calling, and relative immaturity that can feast inside of an organization. People by nature can be very judgemental and judgment rarely yields positive feelings or interaction. A continued focus on treating others kindly and avoiding the traps of judgement and deceit is a great way to be a leader.
- Be Inclusive – So many organizations become silo’d with the likes of politics and camps based on function, manager, division etc. This is devastating to an organization and it becomes perpetuated throughout the ranks. Whether it is inviting a few new employees to lunch or gathering the input of different employees into your projects, being inclusive tears down walls and is a simple way to lead day in and day out.
- Push your peers – When a manager has to push an employee it is often seen as a contentious interaction. The employee often feels scolded no matter how the news was delivered. This is more a byproduct of the manager/employee relationship than anything else. One thing that I love to see is when a teammate gives her teammate a swift kick in the rear. When a team member verbalizes in a highly professional way that they would like to see more from their teammate it often drives improved behavior rather than the feeling of inadequacy that can come from managerial discipline.
- Lend a hand – Even if something isn’t technically your responsibility, that doesn’t mean you can’t chip in. If you have know how that can push an idea or a project forward, step up and reach out. While there is no certainty that your attempts will be appreciated, each one of us make contributions to the culture and this is a practice every company can benefit from.
Whether you hold the top post, or you are feeding the boxes in the mailroom, leadership opportunities are everywhere. How do you lead everyday with or without a title?