4 Tips for Growing Leaders
I know exactly how you feel. You’re excited about your organization, committed to the vision, eager to get into the game. There’s only one problem.
You’re not the formal leader.
Emerging leaders face this dilemma frequently. They have passion, energy, drive, and a wealth of ideas—but they have little voice. This truly can be a frustrating position.
But it doesn’t have to be.
You can exercise great influence in your organization from the second seat—or third or fourth. Here’s what you can do to be a leader when you’re not in the lead.
- Help Your Boss Succeed
Before you earn the right to lead, you must win the trust of those above you in the organization. You do that by showing that you are committed to helping them succeed, even if you might have chosen a different direction.
Never criticize your leaders to others or undermine the mission with sighs, smirks, or eye rolls. If your supervisor doesn’t succeed, you won’t either.
- Identify Solutions
Everyone can see the problems, so that’s not terribly helpful. Seeing the solution to a problem is incredibly valuable and marks you as a leader. Never bring a problem without a possible solution. Even if it’s not the best solution, you’ve helped the team move in the right direction.
- Affirm and Encourage
This falls through the cracks with a lot of leaders who are buried in budgets, scrambling to make payroll, and carrying all the stress of the organization. Be the cheerleader for the team, saying, “Great job on the project,” or “I appreciate your positive attitude.” Both your teammates and your superiors will look to you as a leader. Bosses like encouragement too!
- Put Others First
It’s counterintuitive, but when you put the leader, your organization, and your teammates ahead of yourself, your influence rises. When you put your position and your own interests ahead of the team, your influence plummets. As Jesus said, “…the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt. 20:16 NIV)
Are you a second-chair leader, or have you been? What’s your best advice for leading when you’re not in charge? Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.
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