You don’t need the word “chief” in your title to act as a leader to the troops. Show that you possess the qualities to lead a team by exhibiting thesetraits:
• Initiative. Don’t simply do your job as it’s defined. Seek ways to improve operations or coach another employee. Improve upon “the way we’ve always done things around here.”
Take the reins of a project or group when no leader is designated or the person who nominally holds the job can’t or isn’t making progress.
Example: “I know you’ve been tied up with the ABC proposal. Would you like me to start the ball rolling on XYZ by making these assignments?”
• Judgment. Show that you can weigh all the relative factors and act decisively. Sometimes, that requires defying earlier orders from the boss, so be prepared to explain why the situation demanded a change in direction.
To exercise good judgment, you’ll need broad knowledge of your organization, its challenges and what others do to ensure that you aren’t creating new problems when solving old ones.
Example: “Joan and I can put this assignment on hold to pitch in with today’s problem in the sales department, but Marlon will need to continue working on the database entries that must be complete by tomorrow.”
•. Become the person other people bounce ideas off. By listening, asking informed questions and offering thoughtful replies, you’ll become a “center of influence.” When you talk, people will listen. And you’ll know what changes likely lie ahead before others do.
• Motivation. Great leaders are positive without being Pollyannas. Tackle work challenges with enthusiasm and passion, setting a visible example for other team members. Note what factors spur your colleagues to greater achievement, so you know how to appeal to each person individually.
• Appearance. Without any other information, others will judge you by your posture, clothing, demeanor and speech. So stand tall, walk with purpose and speak well. Leaders don’t mumble.