Hello SOTGC community,
Many of us currently answer to someone above us on the ladder, or we are growing leaders who hope to call the shots one day. Right now we might not be the one calling the shots for the whole organization but we often provide strong leadership to others who look to us.
So what does it look like to lead when you’re not in charge?
Here are 5 application points to consider:
- Start with leading yourself. This one is a no-brainer if you are even reading this because I’m preaching to the choir here. The leaders that are making an impact take the time to commit to self-improvement and development. Many times this is done through the gift of a mentoring relationship, or an organizational commitment to new leaders. Taking the time to read, learn, apply and re-evaluate your skills and gifts makes you an easy leader to lead because you always have fresh perspective and new ideas. It also makes you a powerhouse to follow.
- Learn to follow. As a leader we learn how to follow well, which involves learning to serve others before we expect to be served. In our nonprofits we call this servant-leadership. We acknowledge that leaders are most helpful when we honor those leading us and we serve those who are influenced by our efforts. Simple questions like, “How can I help you with that project?”, “What do you need to accomplish that goal?”, or “How can I support you this week?” show you care about the bottom line and the people making it happen.
- Choose “we” over “me.” There are multiple times we choose “me” (what benefits my needs) or we choose “we” (what benefits the most good). More often than not when we choose to look at the big picture to consider if this decision is one that will benefit the most people and forward the overall momentum, the effect is that our needs do get served as well. It is easy to choose “we” when we get to weigh in as well, but when we buy in even when we don’t get the opportunity to weigh in we choose “we” over “me.”
- Share positivity and support. A good leader will always provide support and positivity in both directions. When those up the ladder make a decision we might not completely agree with but we can see the benefit for the whole, we provide our support through positive comments. A negative critic, “That’s a stupid idea,” can quickly be de-railed by a co-worker who shares their positive support, “I think it’s a great idea!”.
- Bring your energy. No matter which room we walk into or which table we have a seat at, the level of investment comes from the level of energy we bring with us. Maintaining your own self-care allows you to bring your highest level of energy to the majority of the conversations. And having a positive servant-leader mindset allows you to provide confident input to help the whole system.
So what’s your next step if you are not in charge?
• How do you build into your own growth?
• What’s one way you can be a servant leader? How would that even work in your current place?
• Is there one project online now that needs your positivity or support?