We often first start thinking about leadership when either a teacher or professor tells us how important it is, or when we finally are given a position of leadership. Especially if you’re relatively new to thinking about leadership, you may find yourself in one of these situations now, and with whichever scenario you have already or will approach a correlating problem.
As the spry and zealous young student of leadership, you realize that while leadership is important, you don’t really have a position of leadership to “practice.” As a person who’s finally earned the new title or role in an organization, it’s quickly evident that your new title and position does not automatically lead to respect and trust from those you’re leading. In either situation, you find yourself thinking, “If I only had…”
These are the two of the early intersections of leadership that most people will find themselves. No matter which spot you find yourself in, the leadership action should be the same!
Lead with moral authority! Don’t depend on or wait for positional authority. Have integrity and courage. Be the leader that you would follow. A living example is the most powerful teaching and leadership tool.
Have you noticed how our culture is, perhaps now more than ever, against conformity and hierarchy? Have you seen how people are more willing, now than generations ago, to leave a great paying job so that they can work for great leadership (or avoid bad leadership)? Have you watched on current reality shows how the “iron fist” style leadership is quickly losing its leverage to the re-emerging trend of servant leadership?
One thing is clear right now… if you can figure out how to effectively lead when you are without any actual (or simply “entry level”) positional leadership, your impact will be exponential when you finally earn power-filled, positional authority which, at that point, will only compliment your abounding moral authority.
So if you find yourself with no position and title or are new to a role:
1) Genuinely care for those in your circles, and help them to be successful.
2) Educate yourself beyond your peers’ normal habits.
3) Move to action when you identify a need in any setting, department, etc.
4) Find ways to lead culturally through your example.