Everyone can be a leader, regardless of title. You just need to be willing to step up. Leaders engage themselves and other employees in taking personal responsibility and delivering results beyond expectations. Organizations with engaged employees generate higher productivity, retention and bottom line earnings than other companies that lack the commitment from employees. This can in turn translate to job security and advancement opportunities.
Many leaders are self-created, not born or designated, by their organizations. Their actions and confidence inspires followers and improves efforts and results. They emerge to guide others and take control. They draw respect even without an executive job title.
Below are some noteworthy behaviors that can help you be a strong leader regardless of your position within the organization.
Take Responsibility. True leaders seize responsibility and are accountable for everything under their influence. They do not make excuses. They are dependable and reliable. They follow through on their commitments. They take responsibility for their decisions and the consequences of these decisions.
Solve Problems. Leaders discover and implement impactful solutions that resolve issues and problems. They think of problems in the broader sense – even though they’re not always easy to define. They look for needs, niches, conflicts, gaps that need to be filled, and inefficiencies. They realize that the solutions won't always be creative or cutting edge; sometimes they're the simplest things.
Understand the Big Picture. As they are solving problems, leaders might notice patterns and wonder if many of those problems are symptoms of a deeper, bigger problem. Instead of waiting for problems to appear, leaders proactively take steps to prevent them. If they can't be prevented, then they take the necessary measures to anticipate and prepare themselves and others. That's the core difference between a leader and a manager. A good manager responds well to a variety of situations; a good leader takes effective action to prevent and create situations before they actually happen. Leaders are observant of their surroundings and pay attention to what people are saying within the organization and outside. They are mindful of trends to watch.
Develop Competencies. Aspiring leaders identify their strengths and capitalize on developing these talents so that they can apply them in meaningful ways. They recognize that their ability to negotiate, communicate, influence and persuade others to do things is indispensable at work. The most effective leaders are those who can competently organize the cooperation and assistance of other people to accomplish goals and objectives. Leaders combine their personal competencies with the competencies of others into a smoothly functioning team that can outplay and outperform all its competitors.
Be a Strong Team Player. Recognize that a good leader also knows when it’s important to be a follower. Leaders are cooperative and engaged in the mission, open and flexible to learn new ways of acting and thinking, and trustful in their leadership team.
Remember that you don’t have to be a CEO or other appointed executive or elected official to be a leader. A leader is someone that others consistently look to for guidance and direction. An executive title can make that happen temporarily, at least, but a true leader inspires committed loyalty.