Lead at Work… Without Being a Leader

leadDo you want to lead?

Believe it or not, as much as everyone likes to move forward and upward in their career, many professionals actually don’t want to get into leadership roles.

The added responsibility, sleepless nights, and stress, as well as bringing work home regularly are completely compelling reasons to do what you do best: the worker bee kind of stuff.

There’s some added truth to this, because as the saying goes: “too many cooks in the kitchen” means that if everyone is a leader, then they are too busy making their own changes/opinions… and nothing gets done or things don’t turn out as planned.

There’s a place for everyone in the office / workplace, and that includes leaders and doers.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a “silent” leader, which holds its own value within an organization.

A silent leader means being a “go-to” expert that supports the team is a role that many people can shoulder.

It can also become a valuable asset should you decide to step into a more visible leadership role later down the road.

Here’s how you can enhance your own leadership without angling for the corner office with the view:

  • Uplift your colleagues. A smile, quick kudos, or compliment all add up into a picture of someone who quietly supports co-workers through thick and thin.
  • Take on difficult projects. Obviously don’t invite abuse or being overworked, but be willing to step up when no one else wants to “take one for the team.”  If you are dependable and deliver, people respect your integrity and tenacity.
  • Share what you learn. Don’t just hold onto what you learned at last week’s conference; share an update with co-workers to help build a shared knowledge base.
  • Listen to others. Many times, leaders are so busy telling people what to do and determining the direction that they don’t listen. Silent leaders and people who lead by example are open and active listeners to learn as much as they can about what other people think.
  • Think of solutions to community problems. It might not be sitting in your lap, but if you can think about solutions to challenges posed by colleagues, you gain a reputation as a helper.
  • Always strive for excellence, not perfection. Poor leaders don’t realize that perfection is never a realistic goal; always focusing on excellence helps you guide yourself and others into integrity.
  • Be accountable. Take credit only when it is due, and hold yourself accountable if mistakes are made. Blaming others is a trait enjoyed by some of the worst leaders; the most respected people in a company are ones who are honest about themselves and their actions.

Despite what everyone thinks, leaders aren’t usually the ones at the front of the ship, urging it forward; many true leaders are the ones who sit quietly at the rear, silently steering the course.