Exhibiting Leadership at Work… Without Being a Leader

exhibiting leadershipDo you enjoy exhibiting leadership at work, but you don’t want to be a leader?

As much as everyone likes to move forward in their career, many professionals don’t want to get into leadership roles. The added responsibility, sleepless nights, and stress are daunting. And bringing work home regularly and dealing with people can be distractions. Especially when you need to do what you do best: the worker bee kind of stuff.

A Role for Everyone

There’s some added truth to this, of course. As the saying goes: “too many cooks in the kitchen” means that if everyone is a leader, then they are too busy making their own changes/opinions.

There’s a role for everyone in the workplace, including leaders and doers.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be a “silent” leader, which holds its own value within an organization.

A silent leader means being a “go-to” expert that supports the team is a role that many people can shoulder. It can also become a valuable asset. After all, someday you may decide to step into a more visible leadership role.

Exhibiting Leadership

Here’s are few ways to go about exhibiting leadership without angling for that corner office with the view:

  • Uplift your colleagues | A smile, quick kudos, or compliment all make a difference. And they all add up into a picture of someone who quietly supports co-workers through thick and thin.
  • Take on difficult projects | Don’t invite abuse or being overworked. But be willing to step up when no one else wants to “take one for the team.”  If you are dependable and deliver, people respect your integrity and tenacity.
  • Share what you learn | Don’t just hold onto what you learned at last week’s conference; share an update with co-workers to help build a shared knowledge base.
  • Listen to others | Many times, leaders are so busy telling people what to do and determining the direction that they don’t listen. Silent leaders and people who lead by example are open and active listeners. They try to learn as much as they can about what other people think.
  • Think of solutions to community problems | It might not be sitting in your lap. If you can think about solutions to challenges posed by colleagues, you gain a reputation as a helper.
  • Always strive for excellence, not perfection | Poor leaders don’t realize that perfection is never a realistic goal; always focusing on excellence helps you guide yourself and others into integrity.
  • Be accountable | Take credit only when it is due. Make a mistake? Hold yourself accountable. Blaming others is a trait enjoyed by some of the worst leaders; the most respected people in a company are ones who are honest about themselves and their actions.

Despite what everyone thinks, leaders aren’t usually the ones at the front of the ship, urging it forward; many true leaders are the ones who sit quietly at the rear, silently exhibiting leadership and steering the course.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder.




Dawn Rasmussen 3About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP is President of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, a provider of results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Dawn is also the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide and Talentzoo.com, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is a recognized career expert on Careerealism.com – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog. Follow Dawn on Twitter!



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