Leadership is one of the most desirable skills that employers look for. In fact, it’s one of the top three qualities that applicants should incorporate into their resumes. The reason for this is because there are so many positions that aren’t necessarily in a management or CEO position that require someone to lead others in some capacity.
But how do you lead if you’re not in one of the leadership positions in your organization?
It turns out, there are a lot of things that you can do to be a leader from the position you’re in right now, whether you’re a CEO or an entry level employee or intern. Everyone has a part to play within an organization and leaders are needed at every level.
Leadership is not only about being in charge. Read on to learn how you can lead effectively and grow your leadership skills from the position you’re in right now.
Self-leadership is something that a lot of people overlook, but it’s equally (if not more) important as leading others. Understanding yourself and your priorities so that you can maintain motivation and accomplish your professional goals is something that is noticeable to the people around you and can help with developing overall leadership skills.
“Ask yourself what you’re doing to support the people above you,” says Michel Mosse, Co-Founder and Head of Revenue at Hoist. “How do you show self-leadership to someone who’s in charge of you? Try asking yourself what you can do to make their job easier. Are you taking control of your projects? Are you using critical thinking skills instead of asking them for help on everything? Are you setting a good example for others?”
“In order to be someone worth following, you have to first learn how to exhibit these principles in your own life,” says Michel Mosse, Co-Founder and Head of Revenue for MadeMan. “A good leader has to be able to discipline themselves and show intentionality towards their projects, goals, career, and personal life. You can’t expect people to follow your lead if you don’t show intentionality in these other areas.”
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Leaders do so much more than make decisions and take charge. They have to truly understand everyone they’re working with. Being able to both empathize with your coworkers and understand their decision-making processes will enable you to be a more effective leader, no matter your position.
“When you understand how your team and those around you work, you learn to play to everyone’s strengths. A good leader can look at their team and quickly identify who will do best with certain projects or assignments based on the way they problem solve, work with others, or what background knowledge they have,” says Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce. “When you play to everyone’s strengths, you have a happier team, you learn to anticipate problems, and your group works more efficiently overall.”
“If you’re looking to impress upper level management, learn to anticipate their needs and wants too. Your team is important, but if you can stay a step ahead of the leaders of the team and impress them with your preparedness, you’re not only going to be making a good impression on them, but showing great leadership and initiative to the rest of the team as well,” says Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder of Audien Hearing.
Think Outside of the Box
When presented with a problem, many of us will immediately go into problem solving mode to think of a solution and then set out with the goal of making that solution come to fruition. But what if there are other ways to solve the problem? One tip that our experts gave was that you should learn to think outside of the box and ask questions to come up with the best solution possible.
“Ask questions. Ask yourself if there are other ways to solve a problem, ask your coworkers for ideas, and do some research into other possible solutions,” says Brandon Amoroso, Founder and CEO of electrIQ marketing. “There is truth to the idea that multiple heads are better than one. Sometimes your way of thinking will only lead you to one solution, but by brainstorming with coworkers and looking up other solutions on the internet, you may come to a different conclusion about what the best solution is. By doing this, you’re not only showing that you’re willing to go above and beyond solving the problem, but you’re engaging your team, learning to grow and think in new ways, and ultimately growing your leadership skills as well.”
“Don’t settle with the first idea you have. Challenge yourself to think outside of the box and come up with new ideas and new ways of thinking,” says Justin Chan, Growth Manager of JuneShine. “If you don’t challenge yourself to grow and think in new ways, you’re not going to be able to move up or lead others well. Stretching yourself to be the best you can be is a great way to show self-leadership and to be an example for others as well.”
This can take on a couple of different meanings, but volunteering to lead a project or even volunteering to lead within an organization in the community can be a great way to show your initiative to be a better leader and to gain leadership skills at the same time.
“When the boss asks for someone to lead a team or a group for a new project, start volunteering,” says Jason Sherman, Founder of TapRm. “It shows the entire team that you’re willing to step up and lead even if there’s not a raise or monetary gain involved. It takes more than just raising a hand, though. You have to carry that momentum the whole way through to the end. Strive to be your best and lead others in a way that keeps morale and motivation high.”
“Volunteer around your community,” says Nancy L Belcher; Ph.D., MPA, and Co-founder of Winona. “There are so many great organizations that need leaders to step up and help keep their programs running. By getting involved in the community and practicing your leadership skills there, you’re not only able to build your current skill set but you’ll also be building transferable skills that you can incorporate into a future resume too.”
Looking back at what our industry leaders had to say about these topics, it seems like there are several ways to start becoming an effective leader even if you aren’t in a leadership role such as a CEO. You can practice self-leadership and learn what motivates you and keeps you on task so you can start to evaluate how you would teach others to do the same.
You can also learn to empathize with others and anticipate what needs your team or upper management might have. By putting yourself in their shoes and learning what they need to do their job more effectively, you will help everything run smoothly and show advanced leadership skills from whatever position you may be in.
You can also learn to think outside of the box and try to come up with new ways of thinking of a solution. By exploring new ways of thinking, you challenge yourself and those around you to be at your best. This will help your creativity and lead you to more innovative or new ways of accomplishing a goal that is more efficient than what you would have done otherwise.
Finally, you should look into volunteering. This could mean volunteering within the office to lead a team or even do that job that nobody wants. It could also mean taking on some responsibilities off the clock by volunteering with an organization within your community. Whatever it may be, you’ll learn valuable skills that can help you market yourself as a valuable employee and leader on future job applications.
So, whether it’s something that you start to work on at work or outside of the job, we hope that some of these tips and tricks help you learn how to grow your leadership skills and become the best leader you can be from your current position.