A lot of managers, mid-level leaders, and even those without leadership titles can all struggle with the same thing. And that is: How to lead if you don’t have the position?
They all want to understand how to deal with this, and how to have more influence on the rest of the people in their company. But how do you do this?
Well, I cannot stress enough how many people in the organization have leaders, bosses, and managers who have the title and have the position—but they don’t have the influence. They’re not real leaders.
Outside of work, people don’t want to hang around with them. Outside of work, people don’t want to be around them. Outside of work, they do not influence their peers. This is the sad reality of our day and age.
Now, how did they get that title? How did they get that position?
Maybe they practiced leadership principles until they got there. Or maybe they’re very competent. That’s why they got the position. But leadership is not equivalent to competence.
Leadership is all about influence, serving others, sacrifice, and being intentional about yourself — about how you develop yourself to become better, about being aware of your weaknesses and making them into non-weaknesses, and about knowing your strengths and them to make others better. That is what leadership is about.
Numerous people may be at the grassroots or supervisory level, but they have more influence.
They’re actually the real leaders of the organization. Because, outside of work, people want to hang around them. People will follow them when they ask for a favor.
People listen to them when they say something outside of work. People respect them—even their managers respect their opinions. These people may not have the title or the position, but real leaders.
Now, how do you become someone like that? Here are the principles. And I only have five principles to share with you today.
The first one is to take initiative. What this means is when you see an opportunity, you have to make sure to volunteer for it. You have to make sure to jump on it.
Maybe you have an opening in your workplace for a specific project, maybe something as simple as organizing the team outing or organizing a webinar workshop that people should be attending, that’s going to be more work, right?
“Everyone’s busy. We’re all dealing with our workloads. Why would I volunteer for another piece of work or piece of project?”
But people who want to grow their leadership and influence will take initiative and jump on that opportunity and say, ”I want to be the one looking for the speakers. I want to be the one to galvanize people and encourage them to join. I want to be the one to set up the stage to make sure everything is prepared for our speaker.”
These opportunities will be served to you and you may see it as, “Hey, that’s more work and I’m not getting paid for that.”
Or you could see it as, “Hey, this is something I can get involved with, and everyone will see that I’m reliable and I’m willing to serve and it’s going to increase my influence and leadership in the entire organization.”
Which one are you? That will dictate whether you will be more of a leader, even if you do not have the position or title.
The next principle is to see other people.
All too often do we go to our workplace or do we log in to our digital workspace and we don’t see other people?
We’re hanging out with people we’re used to hanging out with. We’re communicating with people who we should be communicating with because they’re part of our team.
But how often do we see other people at work that we’re not really connected to? That we don’t directly work with or are in projects or committees with?
If you want to change that, then just look at them and say, “Hey, is there anything that you’re working on today that I can jump into and help out with.” Or “Hey, how are you doing today? How do you feel today?”
It’s as easy as that. Do you know why? Because not a lot of people see other people, especially at work. And if you’re someone who can practice this day in and day out, just give yourself a quota.
One person a day, tap them on the shoulder and ask them how they are. I don’t care what you ask them. All that matters is you see them. They answer your question. That opens them up to more conversation.
You build these relationships. Connect with other people.
People will respect that because guess what? The world’s love is growing colder every day, but people still need connection and need to be seen by others. So the more you do this—and it’s not that hard—the more your influence will grow.
The third principle we have today is to encourage and praise the good. When someone does something good, fantastic, or amazing, make sure you’re cheering them on.
In SEO Hacker, we have what we call the clap session during town hall meetings. And we make it a point to list down things that we want to celebrate about a certain individual or a certain group of people, and we share it at every town hall meeting.
We want to make sure that we’re saying these things and applauding people who live where you can feel it the most.
I make it a point to always list people to who I want to give applause and praise, and I always take a turn as CEO to get that mic.
I told the team that I appreciate them because this is a time when working is definitely not easy—work is tough and it is volatile. Perhaps the most that this generation has dealt with since we were born.
You have to keep a sharp eye out and a sharp ear out for people doing a great job, or maybe even just people doing a good job. Make it a habit to encourage and promote and applaud the good.
My fourth principle today is reliability. You, as a colleague, the baseline of all leadership is all about reliability. Are you a reliable person?
When you say you’re going to do something, do you do it at the right time? When you say you’re going to be in a certain place, do you do it at the right time? Are you really there? Do you really show up? Do you do the hard work?
When you promise something, do you keep that promise? When someone asks you for a favor and you say yes, do you make sure that favor is done ahead of time or on time? How reliable are you as a person?
This counts for a lot because if you don’t practice this principle, none of the other principles here will matter—because people won’t respect you for your reliability.
Now, I’m not talking about competence. Competence is a different thing. Reliability matters a lot in leadership. Are you a reliable person?
Now if you’re not and you realize, “I’m not so reliable. When someone asks me for something, I say yes oftentimes, and I just don’t do it, or I only do it 50%, 60% of the time, maybe 80% of the time.” Then make sure you do it 100% of the time.
Don’t keep on saying yes to other people if you can’t deliver because you will have a mental note behind their heads that, “Hey, Sean is not that reliable and next time I’m not going to give him stuff, right, because I can’t count on him.”
Reliability also has to do with accountability. If you’re a little bit late, tell that other person who’s relying on you that you’re going to be late. You have to be accountable to that person so that they can count on you.
And my fifth principle today is to listen. Listen to legitimate concerns. Why do I use the word legitimate? Because there are so many concerns that are not legitimate and you shouldn’t be listening to them.
So when I say legitimate concerns, these are concerns about work and maybe personal life. Now, I’m not saying that you listen to toxic things. I’m just saying lend an ear because some people need someone to talk with who just listens to them.
As human beings, we tend to keep on opening our mouths, giving our opinions, and our comments, even if the other person is not yet done telling their story.
But, knowing when to sit and listen is how we show that simple respect to the other person.
Rarely do we see someone who just listens and only responds after all has been said by the other party. There are so few people willing to lend an ear today. So few, and it is sad.
Even at the workplace, people can’t talk to you, people can’t expect you to listen to them.
But remember this: God gave us two ears and one month for a reason, and that is so that we’ll listen twice as much as we speak.
Being able to listen to other people, empathize with them, and understand them, that counts for a lot. And that will increase your influence on that other person by a huge margin.
I hope these five principles have helped you in such a way to change your perspective, and I hope that you would be able to practice at least one of these principles.
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