You’re a leader. Did you know that? You are!
Having direct reports or the highest paycheck on your team isn’t what makes you a leader. (That makes you a manager.) A leader is someone who stays solution-focused, rallies people together for a common goal, and inspires action.
You have the ability to be a leader every single day. These 10 ways to be a leader can help you show up, no matter what your title is.
1. Be on time
You’re busy. We get it. Seriously! But leaders value everybody’s time equally, both their own and their team’s. This means you show up to meetings on time and prepared. If the day gets away from you (as sometimes it does), then promptly reschedule. Thoughtful leaders respect everybody’s time.
When you pass people in the hallway and ask, “How’s it going?” or “How was your weekend?” actually stop and listen to their response. Ask a follow-up question if it’s warranted. It’s amazing how good you can make someone else feel by just extending 30 seconds of your time. Kind leaders make their team members feel known.
3. Put your phone away
Simon Sinek famously spoke about the message you send when your cellphone is out. When someone else is talking and you’re checking your email or glancing at notifications…you (unintentionally) tell them they’re not important. Respectful leaders treat everyone with importance.
4. Admit mistakes
Making mistakes is part of being human. When they happen, don’t blame others or justify how it wasn’t your fault. Humble leaders aren’t afraid of owning mistakes.
5. Celebrate others
When somebody on your team does a great job, make sure you let them (and others) know. Gracious leaders lift the people around them.
6. Focus on solutions
This one is especially important for people who aren’t in formal leadership positions. When your team is commiserating about a project (or person) that is causing strife, resist the urge to join in. Instead, gently nudge them toward focusing on how you can come together to solve the problem. Valuable leaders find ways to make it work.
7. Don’t gossip
This goes along with #6. Don’t ever, ever gossip about another person in your office or on your team. Ever. Wise leaders understand the power of words.
8. Meet deadlines
If you’re acting like a leader…either formally or informally…people will value your contribution and probably pull you into other projects for help. While this is great, it’s still important to do your job well. If you aren’t hitting your own deadlines because of how much you extend yourself to others, it’s time to pull back and reevaluate priorities. Smart leaders execute with excellence.
9. Set the tone
All of us have been handed down a decision we didn’t make (and perhaps don’t agree with), but we have to execute on it. In those moments, it’s important for leaders to set the emotional tone for the team. It’s not saying, “If I were them, I wouldn’t have done that…” Instead, it’s saying, “What can we learn, and what can we take forward?” Self-aware leaders challenge themselves to take the high road.
10. Stay engaged
Stay inspired by listening to podcasts or taking online courses. Bring passion to your work, and bring it to your team. Remind yourself and others of the shared vision you’re working toward. Passionate leaders inspire others.