How to lead when you’re not officially a leader.

How to lead when you’re not officially a leader.
January 29, 2023 Linda Murray
Even if you're not a leader, leadership development has powerful benefits. Change the status quo, boost personal skills, improve your career. Here's how.

Have you ever been in a project group or team where the leader either didn’t or couldn’t lead? Then perhaps after a bit of confusion, there is an individual who seems to take command; someone who gets things moving and someone we look to for vision and direction. That person is a true leader even if they don’t hold a formal title.

Your turn will come if it hasn’t already. If you want your team to achieve goals instead of being stuck, it’s time to step up. Let me show you how to lead when you’re not officially in the driver’s seat.

  1. Practice emotional intelligence.

According to recent Korn Ferry research, only 22% of 155,000 leaders have real strengths in Emotional Intelligence yet it is responsible for 58% of job performance in every role. 90% of top performers have above average emotional intelligence. Developing your emotional intelligence not only improves your job performance, but it also gives you incredible skills for making things happen. Self-awareness and self-regulation allow you to control yourself and make clear decisions. Your people skills of empathy and communication allow you to influence them towards the goal. Your social skills build relationships and keep everyone on board. Practice emotional intelligence and you’ll gain the trust and respect of the people you work with.

  1. Put your ideas forward.

If you’ve spotted a problem, a gap in process or an area where things could be improved, speak up. This is leadership starting small and your success will spring from the ideas you generate. Be innovative. Initiate change. Everybody will be wanting a solution but not everyone can supply one. Don’t just point out the problem – become the solution. Lead the way ahead.

  1. Set or clarify goals.

In listening to my coaching clients, one of the biggest impressions I get is of confusion. People don’t know where they are going or they forget. Perhaps they don’t know how the work they are doing fits in. Good leaders set clear goals and regularly remind people of them. They practice the art of the “Why” which is the reason you’re doing what you do. It’s the purpose, the passion of your work. Speak up when you think the goals need to be clarified, saying “Can we just remind ourselves where we’re headed and why.” Once everyone is clear on the goals and objectives, it’s far easier to think systematically about how to move forward, and people will understand what your intentions are.

  1. Serve others

Sometimes the best way to lead is from below. When you ask people what you can do to help, you’ll gather a lot of information. When you help them get their jobs done, you keep them motivated. You have to opportunity to show new ideas and strategies. Praise them when they do well and share credit when it’s due.

This approach builds a solid connection because you’ve shown your interest in what each person is doing, and how they feel about it. You’ve shown that you care, and you’ve worked collaboratively. This is the foundation of trust and loyalty, and your ability to influence.

  1. Focus on positivity

When things are tough, as they often have been lately, it’s easy to let the negative thoughts creep in. That’s what’s likely to be happening for the people you work with. It’s hard to stay positive in such a climate. But real leaders strive to maintain a positive approach and share that with their teams.

Positivity is inspiring. We’re all looking for a way out of despair and will follow anyone who promises something better. It doesn’t have to be a solution, but it must be an attitude. Stay focused on the goal and your strategies. Believe in yourself and your team. You CAN do it.

You can practice each of these strategies without stepping into a formal leadership role. I can tell you, though, that your nominal leader will notice your support and be thankful. Learning how to lead is important no matter where you are in your career. It benefits the team and organisation, but most of all it benefits you.

If you want to improve your personal power and leadership influence, get in touch and let’s chat. Do it for your team and do it for yourself.



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