Even if you’re not in charge, it’s important to demonstrate strong leadership skills in the workplace. By being a leader even when you’re not the boss, management will see that you possess the necessary skills and may keep that in mind when you’re up for a promotion. Here are six ways you can be a leader at work, even if you’re not the boss (yet).
1. Be flexible
Flexibility is one of the most important qualities to have as a leader. Things often don’t go according to plan; you need to be able to adapt to any situation that may arise. When things go astray, people need a leader to look to. This is your time to shine and emerge as that leader. Leaders should also understand there’s more than one way to accomplish a task. They should be open to different work styles and understand the difference between a wrong way to do something, and a different way.
2. Communication is key
A leader needs to be able to communicate one-on-one and in large groups. You aren’t in the position to give instructions, but you can offer advice and feedback when appropriate. Simple appreciation is always appreciated and will help your coworkers to respect and trust you. Leaders must also be clear communicators; they need to make sure everyone understands and there’s no chance for things to be misunderstood.
3. Don’t be a doormat
Because you’re not the boss, people may try to take advantage of you in a way they wouldn’t if you were in charge of them. Don’t let them. Leaders stand up for themselves. Don’t put up with things your boss wouldn’t. This doesn’t mean you should never help others out. Provide favors out of kindness and good for the company, not because you can’t say no.
4. Engage others
An effective team utilizes everyone. A strong leader will seek out the interests and strengths of each team member and do their best to align those with the tasks that need to be completed. Make everyone feel heard and appreciated. If there’s a quieter member on your team, do your best to include them in conversations.
All ideas can be good ideas. Listen to team members and make them feel like part of the group. This is especially important when you’re not the boss; if you aren’t respecting their contributions, they’ll question the leadership role you’ve taken on. If you show everyone you appreciate and value their ideas, they’ll be more accepting of your position. A true leader acknowledges that good ideas come from many different sources.
6. Take risks
Failure is a crucial component to success. When you acknowledge the potential payoff is greater than the risks associated with it, you’re showing strong leadership skills. This doesn’t mean you should jump into a risky endeavor without evaluating the situation first. It means you’ve assessed the situation, are aware of what may happen, and decide the outcome is worth it.