Be A Leader—Even Without the Title

When you think of a leader, what are some characteristics that come to mind?

  • Responsible.
  • Trustworthy.
  • Decisive.
  • Approachable.

You’d also likely think of someone with a management-related title, and a team reporting to him/her.

But what if you could actually be considered a leader without that manager or director label?

Let’s talk about some practical ways you can exercise leadership, even without that “official” title. Whether at your job, or within another sphere of influence in your life, here are some simple things to consider.

What is the value of adopting a leadership mentality?

By finding ways to influence others for the better, you can become much more engaged in your organization’s culture.

“It doesn’t have to be just about leading people,” explains Melissa Minerd, learning and development program manager at IGS, a multi-disciplinary energy supplier based in Dublin, Ohio.

Whether you’re bringing a group together for a day of community volunteerism, or managing an initiative at work, it’s all about a desire to do your part to achieve a common purpose with your team.

How does an organization benefit when members or employees embrace this mindset?

“Taking on a people leadership role is not necessarily everyone’s end goal,” said Minerd.

This is why it’s practical for an organization to offer opportunities that allow people to assume a greater level of ownership in a way that also aligns with their interests.

Here are some examples:

  • Subject matter expert? Teach a lunch-and-learn that could benefit other employees.
  • Great organization skills? Prepare and lead a department meeting.
  • Love to read and discuss books? Lead a book club covering your favorite leadership topics or a hobby. Doing so can help encourage camaraderie within your group!

How do we practice leadership skills?

  • Network within your organization or even externally, such as an industry association
  • Communicate effectively with a wide variety of audiences
  • Influence in the right way and flex your style as needed when collaborating with different groups
  • Put yourself outside of your comfort zone to practice critical thinking and working towards a common goal

What are some good resources or other ways to practice your leadership skills without the title?

  • Join a board, whether at work or through a volunteer organization
  • Participate in a leadership development program, either at work or externally
  • Consider going back to school to expand your education and gain new skills
  • Find a mentor to help you grow and stay accountable to your goals (grab coffee together and set regular times to connect)
  • Shadow another employee at your company to learn about different aspects of your business
  • Join Toastmasters International to help you practice public speaking and build confidence
  • Request stretch assignments or identify opportunities within your own team (such as preparing a presentation, offering process improvement recommendations, etc.)
  • Explore e-learning, online coaching, and even YouTube for a wealth of useful information on leadership skills and your career path

Final takeaways

“Being able to influence in the right way comes with practice. There are many great ways to do this without the title,” said Minerd.

Here are some high-level suggestions to keep in mind as part of your journey:

  • Put yourself outside your comfort zone (ask a colleague to lunch to learn more about what they do)
  • Set realistic goals for yourself, then expand them later (join an organization today, then strive to join the board within the next year)
  • Realize you’re not going to be perfect (perfection doesn’t exist!)
  • Find your niche and cultivate it (set a goal to become the go-to person in your organization for a particular skill or topic)

“You don’t know how far you can go unless you push yourself a bit,” she said.

To learn more about leadership and finding your personal purpose, check out our blog!

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