“Those who lead in the business world don’t get followers just because their title says they should.” Nan Russell
The reality is that a title doesn’t guarantee anyone will follow. I recently had the opportunity to read Nan Russells’ book The Titleless Leader. It is chock full of practical suggestions on how to be an influence for positive change in the workplace, with or without a business card, a title or an office with a door.
Following are five take-aways I got from Nan’s book:
1. Leaders operate with trust: A recent blog I wrote “What You Give is What you Get” really speaks to this. Being a leader means trusting and respecting those you work with. When you trust and respect co-workers, you are much more likely to get trust and respect in return. Nan points out that the trust component also means trusting your intentions, your motivation and your integrity. After all, if you don’t trust yourself, how can you expect others to trust you?
2. Leaders help others thrive: Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Leaders take the time to get to know the people they work with. Instead of trying to look good by partnering with people “weaker” than they are, they partner with people whose strengths address their own weaknesses. This not only provides a better end product for the company and the team, it also provides a co-worker the opportunity to shine and to focus on an area they are good at.
3. Leaders use the “Three Musketeers” approach – “All for one and one for all”: Want the best for others on your team, bring your best to the team and when you do make a mistake, recognize the impact it has on the team, not just you. Own the error and then work to fix it. When you demonstrate you will stand by your team when times are tough, chances are they will also stand by you. As Nan puts it “Being a musketeer builds relationship capital.”
4. Leaders make it purposeful: Don’t just share the how or the when, share the why. People want to know that what they are doing has more meaning than just simply getting the report done on time, without any typing errors. Why is the report needed? How will it be used?
5. Leaders are independent thinkers: Take a look around. Why are things being done the way they are? Could they be done differently? Challenging assumptions demonstrates independent thinking. It provides opportunities to explore new ideas. Of course, leaders also allow others to challenge them and their ideas. In fact, leaders encourage others around them to be independent thinkers as well. The status quo generally keeps us exactly where we are. Leaders look for the next opportunity.
In closing, if you don’t have the business card or the title, don’t let that stop you from taking on a leadership role. And if you already have the title and the business card, don’t expect people to follow you: demonstrate you are worth following.
(Thank you to Career Press for the opportunity to read and review Nan Russell’s book, The Titleless Leader. If you are interested in the book itself, visit her website.)