12 Leadership Tips for When You’re Not the Boss

January 20th 2016

leadership tips

In most companies, employees are promoted using a criterion that has been put in place by the managers of the organization. Typically, an employee that has been seen to exhibit leadership qualities is given priority when promotions are being handed out. So it is likely, that if you were part of the applicants that were recently hired, you will not be getting promoted any time soon. However, this should not leave you discouraged because patience is critical for a new hire. These leadership tips will help you exhibit your leadership without having to be the boss, in any position:

1. Be goal oriented

Goals are very important for anyone that aspires to be a leader. When your goals are clearly defined it makes them much easier to achieve whether in life or career. Most times, when you are focused on achieving your goals, you are likely to influence others to do the same and they end up achieving theirs too. This should be quite rewarding if you enjoy helping others see their goals come to fruition.

2. Practice humility

A true leader is humble and this is often seen even before a person begins to speak. Always carry yourself with a lot of humility which makes you open to anyone regardless of their position in life. When people perceive you as humble they are able to take direction from you in the office whenever you are working together, thus making you a leader.

3. Always see the bigger picture

Work on achieving the end goal of any project regardless of the many channels that will be used in getting it done. Allow the team to work in a way that they are comfortable but always reminding them to keep focused on the end result. If the final result is satisfactory, then the process used to get there will not matter much.

4. Have excellent communication skills

Say what you mean in a clear and concise manner. Many times, people appreciate getting all the information beforehand to help them get things done as they have been instructed. On the other hand, avoid getting upset when things don’t fall into place but rather communicate what should be done to get things back on track.

5. Be dependable

Although you desire is to rise to the top, do not get there by stepping on others along the way. Whenever someone seeks your help for a task, ensure that the assistance offered brings value to them and the project that they are handling. If you are considered to be a reliable person by colleagues or group members, they are likely to support your projects as well.

6. Embrace your slip-ups

It is always hard to admit that we have failed in one way or another. In most cases, we shift the blame whenever we make a mistake instead of acknowledging it. As a potential leader, try and accept correction when an error is pointed out, even by a subordinate, and seek out ways to improve yourself in that area.

7. Talk less. Listen More.

True leaders allow others to speak their mind at all times regardless of their position in the company. Listen intently and ask questions in areas where you may need some clarification. If you need ideas on the project that you are working on, then ask for suggestions but it does not mean you have to use them. You can then give your input at the end while acknowledging the information already presented by others.

8. Be a risk taker

Taking risks even when they have no idea of the outcome is common for leaders that want to scale new heights and succeed in their profession. However, it is important to evaluate every situation before taking the risk as this will increase the chances of success and even if you fail, the damage will be minimal. Calculated risks always have a way of paying off in the long run if the lessons learnt are used well.

9. Ask for help

Seek help whenever you start feeling overwhelmed by tasks so that you do not make mistakes you might regret. If possible, avoid being the one that has to fix every situation that goes wrong and let others offer solutions as well. Most times, the help offered will stop you from panicking and making the situation worse as you work to find the solution together. Don’t be afraid to ask for leadership tips from other leaders in your organization as well.  Showing interest help you learn and get recognized.

10. Recognize the effort of others

Nothing is accomplished alone and this should be your mantra when seeking a leadership position. Most tasks are achieved through group effort and it is only fair that every team member be acknowledged for the role they played in the success of a project. In most cases, this recognition makes other members feel appreciated and will most likely look forward to participating in other projects.

11. Always speak up

Be firm and respectful whenever you have to disagree with another person and do not let them walk all over you. When addressing people in an uncomfortable situation, aim to speak slowly and clearly while explaining the reasons for your decisions. When you treat people with respect, they are likely to do the same during your interactions in and out of the office.

12. Avoid asking for favors

You will always gain a lot of respect when you earn everything you have through hard work. Most people will consider you a leader because they have seen you put a lot of effort in your office work. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid looking like you are being favored by the boss, whether true or not. In general, leadership is not necessarily connected to a certain position but to the amount of influence you can have over other group members. When you have the power to direct them towards a certain direction without having to be the boss, then you are a true leader. This is the type of leadership that every employee should aspire for when working for their preferred organization.

These leadership tips were submitted as a guest article, written by Aaron Ramsey of eapplicants.com.  If you’d like to see more of his helpful tips and articles, you might want to check out his target interview tips here.  You can find other resources for job seekers on his site as well.

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 1 Comment »

Book Review: Hidden Strengths

September 1st 2015

Unleashing the Crucial Leadership Skills You Already Have
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Author: Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell

This book is a concise and straight forward leadership development book with a bit of a twist to the normal personal development focus.  Most of us know that focusing on weaknesses can be less fruitful than focusing on our strengths, as in “Now, Discover Your Strengths” and I’ve certainly used that coaching people for personal development.  This book adds the advice to also not focus only on your strengths but instead, find the ‘hidden strengths’ that you can develop and gain more broad capabilities with less effort and time.  This is done by the help of a skills assessment by the author and then a breakdown of 28 skills in 4 main categories:

  1. Leading Self
  2. Leading Others
  3. Leading the Organization
  4. Leading Implementation

The Sindell authors provide descriptions of each of the 28 skills, advice on how to use and develop them through numerous stories or case studies of business development where the characters develop hidden strengths to improve their roles in leadership.  These hidden skill stories give believable evidence of how everyone has more hidden strength to draw upon and use in our personal development journeys.  The only thing I didn’t like about these short stories is that they seem too easy in some of the cases where skills focus made significant impact in just days or a few short weeks in most cases.  I personally haven’t ever found this to be the case, they usually develop and cause impact over the course of many weeks, or even months or years.  Skills just don’t have that immediate of impact in organizations and in all the people I’ve coached, it typically takes longer for them to even practice and develop the skills.  Hidden strengths I think is a great place to find opportunities for personal development, however, lasting skill development should not be understated, it needs to be practiced and practiced to get good at to truly develop into a strength that can be applied in one’s leadership.  This is especially true since leadership skills reveal themselves often at the point of adversity and challenge.

The book is in three main parts to lead your through these discoveries and examples:

  1. What are hidden strengths?
  2. Finding your Hidden Strengths.
  3. Hidden Strengths into action.

So, overall I enjoyed reading the book.  Its 78 pages is  a pretty quick read and the free skills assessment with the book will have you thinking carefully about how you can too, develop some of your hidden strengths.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | Comments Off on Book Review: Hidden Strengths

Book Review: Bury my Heart at Conference Room B

June 26th 2013

The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers

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Author: Stan Slap

This book interested me as a way to explore the passions in great managers and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  It looks at how managers can truly connect to their jobs, their teams and their emotional commitment for their work to get real meaning from it.  It looks at what makes some of the big difference between an average everyday manager putting in time and a great manager, who emotionally connects with their team and really pushes to maximize their impact with others and the organization.

The subtitle hints at it, that is to have truly committed managers and the author, Slap, puts a whole process around an individual discovering what will truly connect them to be committed and ready for caring, impacting work as a manager.  I like the messages throughout the book and found many times that their were some very wise comments, rants and advice that any manager who gives a darn can get some value from.

A general theme through the book and this process making the title of the book, is to explore, understand and then share the personal values you have as a person in some way to emphasis the company objectives and values as well.  It’t not to align the values directly, or to simply use the companies, its to really understand your own values, why you have them, know when and where they formed and then find a way to hold true to those in your workplace.  Living your values and fitting that in to your workplace is a way to then truly commit to get connected to teams, goals and values of the company as well.  Your values may not match the companies directly, but likely many aspirational aspects of values will align and it will enable you to find a way to make that reality in your daily work.  I held my rating at 4 stars because the thing that is difficult about the book, is to realize some of the outcomes that this book promises I think are very dependent on the company culture, where the response to such a process could be a major roadblock and there is not much help in the book at overcoming the obstacles you’d likely face with that.  I am fortunate to work in a culture that would easily accept this process and concept, however, I know that is not the case in every company and I didn’t find that addressed very well in the book.

This book would be exceptional for any organization leader who has a need or desire to re-engage managers to a higher level of commitment, emotional connection and value driven decisions.  If you want to put some heart into the way you manage or with your team, then I highly recommend this one.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 1 Comment »

Book Review: Instant Influence

May 31st 2013

How to Get Anyone to Do Anything Fast

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Author: Michael Pantalon

The sub title of this book almost put me off it, but I’m glad it didn’t because it is an excellent and very applicable book.  The premise of influence is often debated and while this book sits in that questionable realm, it offers a perspective of influence that is not typical, and from learning and practicing it now, I agree this is much better approach to influence and useful every day.  The main take is that influence is done most effectively by using questioning and discovery.  I’ve always enjoyed using questions in coaching and finding influence but I’ve learned a lot of that through tough practice, not with a simple guided set of steps and actions, like are available in this book.

So, Pantalon outlines a series of steps in this book to have influence conversations.  An all important element of the process of questioning and discovery is to ensure that autonomy remains with the person being influenced.  That is key through the entire book and influence process.  These steps are:

1. Why would you change something if you were willing to change?

Knowing why someone will do something is critical as it is meant to discover some internal motivator.  Using probing questions here to dig into the real understanding of this one.  A series of why questions can help you get to some meaningful and often emotional reason behind a change.  That is important when influencing someone.

2. Rate your readiness to make that change from 1 to 10.

This helps drive the desire to change and can help to look at another perspective of what they might be scared of or worried about if they don’t change.  It helps to reinforce the why they should change and gives them autonomy in knowing their own reasons and rating for readiness.

3. Ask why they didn’t pick a lower number?

Give back some autonomy, throw them off guard and ask why they wouldn’t use a lower number.  If they are already at the lowest, a 1 out of 10, ask what it would take for it to be a 2?  These questions help to understand the reasoning again and reinforce their own discovery of the reasons for a number or rating.

4. Visualize a positive outcome or benefit from that change if it were to happen

Again, the autonomy is reinforced with the addition of “if” it were to happen so you are strictly talking hypothetical.  This keeps the conversation in a maybe without expectation to continue to discovery of the reasons why.

5. Ask why that outcome is important to them?

Probe a bit deeper to help understand and learn with them why something would matter to them.  Here again, you can ask why several times when need to get to meaningful and personal reasons, instead of superficial ones.

6. Determine a next step, if any leading towards that change.

Here is the clincher and after all this hypothetical discussion, you can test if there is any motivation to change and at least take the first step, however small and if any at all.  It provides that autonomy still yet is a way to make some action possible, even a small action, which is the power behind this process.

In Summary

So overall the book uses this process multiple times with many scenarios, responses, situations and methods you will need in such conversations to stay on track with the process and to use it to its fullest.  The examples are all useful to really learn the process and I think make it quite comfortable to use because of the wide variety of examples.  I was able to use the process and continue to use it in conversations and it didn’t take any extra practice, preparation or concern after learning it from the book.  Its a great teaching tool and if you are interested in influencing others, I highly recommend this book.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | Comments Off on Book Review: Instant Influence

Book Review: Judgment Calls

January 11th 2013

12 Stories of BIG Decisions and the Teams That Got Them Right

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Author: Thomas Davenport & Brook Manville

Making great judgments for business and in teams is a crucial part of leadership and something I value a great deal.  Judgments are often seen as something we react to with negative connotations but it is much more frequent yet invisible in ever little action we take, the choices and decisions we make many times a day and in the case of this book, the big decisions we need to make as well.  The authors have 4 parts in this book, that put the 12 stories into the following categories:

  1. Participative problem solving processes.  Examples from NASA, a home-builder, and McKinsey & Company.
  2. Use of technology and analytics in decision making. Examples from a health-care, technology and a school system.
  3. Organisational culture guiding decision-making.  Examples from ancient Athens, EMC and the Vanguard Group.
  4. Leaders with participative decision-making styles.  Examples from a philanthropic organisation, a media company and a product company.

These wide range of stories give a broad view of how decisions and the challenges associated with them might be faced in any organization.  There are no silver bullet insights or conclusions with step based programs to handle making decisions, since these issues are much more complex and through the stories, you will see this.  The book does however provide a view into the many factors that contribute to great judgments such as knowledge, experience, culture, information and organizational structure among the many.

I thought that about half of the stories had good subject matter, clear examples of actionable decision methods and were useful to consider how those techniques could be applied.  The other half of the stories however, I thought were less engaging or even contradicting like an example of NASA’s participative process that led both to failures and successes.  The failures followed the same process even though the authors seemed to use it as convincing evidence on how the participative process would be successful, despite the critical failures it created in NASA.

Anyway, there are no simple conclusions to draw or actionable steps to follow, but the stories will lead you to consider how ever decision and organizational judgment have a wide range of perspectives and that groups or teams of people will have more successes over individual heroes making decisions solely.  It’s a good book and if you are a leader or aspiring leader who will be facing higher level decisions that affect your organization, you will likely get a lot out of this book and some definite stories to relate to, think on and draw your own conclusions from.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | Comments Off on Book Review: Judgment Calls

Book Review: Awakened Leadership

December 31st 2012

Beyond Self-Mastery

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Author: Alan E. Shelton

Shelton makes this book on leadership a whole new experience; as he puts such an emphasis on experiencing leadership at the forefront of his book as well.  It is not your usual leadership book with traits, how to’s and the usual learning to be a leader stuff you will find in so many other leadership titles.  He writes the book with a series of stories, mostly being an auto-biography, as he discovered what leadership truly meant to him in his life and many experiences.  His stories are very inviting, intriguing and keep you drawn in to understand more of where the author is coming from in his discovery of leadership and then to see the application side that the book also includes once the concepts are shown from the story perspective.

There are some deep questions and exploration of one ‘self’ in this book to see where leadership is sourced from.  Ourselves.  Shelton shows many insights on that topic and he delivers some powerful stories and conclusions from his experiencing these.  He covers a lot of topics that you’ll find in other books, but I personally found a lot of his language to be overwhelming and completely unconvincing.  He references the ego countless times, and for my liking anyway, overuses words like manifest, essence, construct, enlightenment which completely distract me from his point, really not following what he seems to be trying so hard to share.  He leaves a lot of inconclusive points about his own understanding of things saying how its experiential and cannot be explained, yet this only created a lot more doubt in my mind as to what I could really take away from his book.

So, it a great storybook and Shelton definitely has some great leadership insights. The whole aspect of knowing yourself and being authentic, becoming more by accepting things as they occur and not being limited by what you think you need to still develop and to control the ego so that you can simply be, make sense to me already, but I’ve discovered them and learned them from other material and experiences without this book helping that much.  I certainly can’t say that will be true for you, as Shelton puts it himself very clearly, each person will have their own leadership discovery and journey so this book might be a great way for you to find some of that out yourself and Shelton’s unique style and stories will certainly leave you thinking.  As much as they did leave me thinking, I can’t say I learned much more about leadership or myself from readying this book.

To get a better sense of Shelton’s writing, please have a look at his previous guest post here, Learning, Humility and Leadership.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 1 Comment »

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