In my years of experience, I have run across way too many people sitting in a chair of authority who are not leading. A title does not make one a leader.
Leadership is influence, not authority.
A title can give you authority. Only you can develop leadership. Your actions give you influence or not. As a young man, I worked in restaurants and convenience stores. Over the years I have coached people and leaders across many industries and sectors. In all of these, I have seen people with titles and authority but no influence. I have also seen people without the title or authority who have all the influence. It’s easy to spot the real leader in a group: the one everyone looks to for their reaction. That person has the influence whether or not they have the title, they are the real leader.
Even if you have the title and position, make sure you are actually building influence to lead. Don’t just sit there, lead.
We should never get comfortable in a position. We should never think we have arrived because of a title. The work of leadership never ends. It is a continual process to build influence. It takes intention and effort. It takes time.
Here are some ways to build influence regardless of your title or position:
There is no substitute for consistency. Consistency takes away ambiguity and confusion. Consistency builds trust. Trust brings influence. Influence is leadership.
Be consistent in your words and your actions. More importantly, be consistent in your attitude and your approach. Let people know they are safe with you. Let them know where the boundaries are and hold to them.
If your words and actions are consistent, people know where you stand and know when they can count on you.
GET STUFF DONE
Want influence where you work?
Get stuff done.
Follow-through and be reliable. This will get you proper attention and give you the right to speak when appropriate. People want to hear from the one who is actually doing the work, the one with the experience, not just the theory.
Even if this doesn’t gain you the influence where you are, it is helping you build experience which will help garner influence at another time and place. Hard work and accomplishment are unbeatable in the workplace.
HELP OTHERS WIN
This goes against so much of what was once taught about leadership and business. At one time, it was thought that way to get ahead was by stepping on others and taking all the credit all the time.
If you want real influence, stop caring about credit and actually help those around you win at what they are doing. In your job, you and your co-workers are trying to achieve the same goal, success for your company. With that in mind, like any team, working together toward the same win always accomplishes more than jockeying for position and trying to one-up the person next to you.
By helping someone else achieve something, you are gaining trust and credibility. You are demonstrating generosity and character. You are exhibiting wisdom and selflessness. These are all qualities of great leaders.
Leadership is influence, not title.