How to be a leader without the title

“Are leaders born or made? This is a false dichotomy – leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders choose to be leaders.” – Stephen R. Covey

Throughout my career, I’ve worked for several companies from small businesses to large multi-nationals across many industries. Whilst every organisation had a senior management or leadership team, there have always been other staff members within the business that are leaders, but didn’t have the official leadership title. These leaders have often exhibited similar qualities and capabilities that allow them to take on a leadership role and have a positive impact on the business and those around them.

So how do you be a leader when you don’t have the title? Leadership is more than a title, it’s an attitude. It’s the behaviour that you consistently demonstrate over a period of time that builds credibility and respect amongst your peers and co-workers, and sets you apart from others. Here are some attributes that I believe makes a great leader:

  • Work ethic – a leader is someone who can set the tone for a business and is the example for others to model their behaviour on. They do everything in their power to present the best version of themselves. This could be something as simple as how they turn up for work every morning. They aren’t just on time for work, they arrive early. They are well presented and when they arrive at work, they are ready to work. Think one-percenters – all those little things that are within your control add up!
  • Consistency – a leader regularly delivers. They may be seen as the “safe pair of hands” within a business, relied upon because their track record demonstrates they will get the job done. And more often than not, they do whatever it takes to make sure they get the job done.
  • Proactive – a leader is someone who can use their initiative and be proactive. They often pre-empt a situation before it happens. They think two steps ahead of where they need to be and are self-motivated to do things without being asked or told.
  • Positivity – a leader doesn’t get bogged down in negativity and looking at what can go wrong. They radiate positivity and lift others up around them. They control the situation rather than letting the situation control them. And on some days, they fake it until they make it rather than letting everything crumble around them!
  • Team player – a leader will often sacrifice their own priorities to help those around them. They have their finger on the pulse in terms of team morale and when others around them may not be coping. They are often the one to put up their hand to take on a task even if they are at capacity, and celebrate others’ successes and contributions.
  • Innovative – a leader will regularly look at how they can improve as well as how the overall business can improve. They will make suggestions/recommendations where they can see opportunities, as well as provide feedback when something isn’t working. They have a genuine desire for continuous improvement rather than settling for the status quo.

The above attributes aren’t given to you just because you have a title, they are within you and the attitude you bring to everything that you do. By having this perspective rather than looking at what your title is, you will be surprised with how much more of an impact you can make as well as the opportunities that may be afforded to you.


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