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Wield power from the ground up

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Nothing stops you from developing your leadership skills, even if you have no one under you to lead. By exerting influence and making an impact, you can lead without an army of underlings reporting to you.

You can also blossom as a leader without controlling a budget or running a department. The key is exhibiting certain traits that raise your profile and set you apart from peers.

To lead without the usual trappings of authority:

Test new ideas. Launch change initiatives on your own and analyze the results. Enlist colleagues to help you stage experiments that explore ways to boost efficiency and innovate more rapidly.

Executives with a fancy job title or corner office may wield power in the traditional sense. But they may have less credibility to drive change campaigns if they appear aloof or untrustworthy.

Lasting, positive change tends to start when an enterprising individual radiates enthusiasm for a potential breakthrough. Others get caught up in the excitement and the will to change picks up speed—without a “boss” mandating it.

Support peers’ success. Position yourself as an in-house champion of your colleagues. When they seek your help or input, offer it gladly.

By supporting their efforts and assisting them in reaching their goals, you gain stature. People will respect you and look to you for guidance. And when you’re ready to lead an initiative, you will be able to mobilize volunteers throughout your organization by tapping your network of allies.

Share knowledge. Look for opportunities to share your technical expertise with peers. As they become smarter, they will view you as a mentor and follow your lead.

— Adapted from “Learning To Lead Without Authority,” Tathagat Varma, www.huffingtonpost.com.

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