THE BLOG
11/24/2013 08:50 pm ET Updated Jan 24, 2014

10 Tips to Better Lead Those You Don't Manage

Leading On Your Business Card?
 

Leadership isn't a title. That is precisely why the word is a noun that describes the action of leading; "To Lead."

So when someone tells you they are a leader, your follow up question should be, why? If they tell you that it is because they are a CEO, a VP or a Regional Manager, just know that in itself doesn't make anyone a leader.

True, someone with a big title and management authority are at an advantage when it comes to enacting work. This is because they can use their "Legitimate Power" to move resources directionally however they see fit. Coupled with the desire to earn rewards and the fear of some type of punishment, the role of manager has leadership implications. Just know those implications in themselves aren't leadership. Make Sense?

If you want insight on the best leaders, look at those who people follow who they don't have to. When the person holds no direct accountability over them nor do they have the ability to give or take anything material from those they lead... That is a leader.

Can you think of an example of this?

Is there someone in your organization that people inherently listen to even though they aren't the boss? Perhaps a long time account executive or a wily veteran on the plant floor that has done it all before.

What is it about these folks that make them worth following?

Leading Those You Don't Manage: Thoughts and Ideas

If you ever truly want to be a leader, then you have to start by leading. This is through your actions not your position.

Trust me, I have had the title and the power and failed to lead, and I have lead effectively when I had neither. What was the difference?

Here are some thoughts/ideas on leading those you don't manage from my experiences.

  1. People don't follow liars.
  2. Ra-Ra Speeches work once, maybe twice.
  3. Your IQ will only impress about 10 percent of the population, and they don't work for you.
  4. Straight answers go a long way and if you don't know the answer, admit it.
  5. You can't be everyone's friend.
  6. Winning does matter and people get behind winners.
  7. Giving shouldn't be accompanied by a string.
  8. Humble pie is best served in public. (Own your mistakes.)
  9. Money "Can't Buy Me Love," but it helps to give recognition.
  10. Excuses, whining and complaining are for the birds.

And yes, I know some of these seem oversimplified or they lack depth. But I want you to take each of these and fill them in around your leadership style. For instance, do you dance around topics like a politician or do you tie strings to everything you give?

Further, what are the "Little Things" that best define your success in leading others even when they don't work for you? I'd love for you to share your thoughts and experiences when it comes to leading those you don't manage below.