Being a Leader at Any Level
National Bosses Day, October 16, is fast approaching. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate those leading you and your company. This is also the perfect time to dive into what it means to be a good leader and learn how you can be a servant leader at any level of a company.
Whether you’re an intern, a team lead, or the CEO of a company, leadership from any team member shapes the work you do and the attitude of the environment around you.
The Servant Leadership Paradigm
To start off, one of the best things any individual can do to improve their leadership skills is to adopt the servant leadership paradigm. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. Traditional leadership creates a focus on the results of the company, whereas servant leadership cultivates a focus on people.
Rather than belittling people with orders or micromanaging their every move, servant leaders ask how they can help their employees succeed. They focus on how to help people develop and perform at high levels, which naturally leads to increases in productivity and performance.
Any person at any level can practice servant leadership. Ask your teammates what you can do to help them be the most successful on an upcoming project. Ask your boss if there’s a way to make their reporting more manageable.
Focus on how you communicate with those on and off your team. Treating everyone you work with as someone who is capable and efficient doesn’t require any certain number of years of experience or any sort of training.
If you’re interested in the Servant Leadership Paradigm, there are courses you can take as well as dozens of books available to help you grow this mindset on your own. You can even receive certification in Servant Leadership through a number of colleges, such as Cornell, University of Wisconsin-Madison or attend the 2020 International Servant-Leader Summit.
Becoming a person of influence
While titles and positions matter when it comes to the influence you have on a company, truly influential employees lead by example.
Most organizations operate on influence on multiple levels, from workload to attitude, even if they don’t realize it. You can become influential to all around you in a couple of ways and showcase your skills as a leader.
First, simply doing your job to the best of your ability is influential. By working hard and putting in the effort, you inspire those around you to do the same.
Second, have a positive attitude or at a minimum, avoid a negative attitude. We all know how easy it is to get sucked into a conversation centered around complaints. You don’t need to be cheerleader-level positive all the time, but simply refusing to engage in negative mindsets inspires others to do the same and helps the workspace as a whole be more uplifting.
A few great ways to achieve and maintain a positive mindset you can project into your influence as a leader include:
Starting each day with a positive affirmation.
Finding humor in bad situations.
Taking valuable lessons from failure, instead of negativity.
Focusing as much as possible on the present.
At the end of the day, the person you are most responsible for is you. Just because you find yourself in charge of a 20-person team doesn’t automatically make you a leader — just like working an entry-level position or as a solo contributor doesn’t mean that you automatically are not a leader.
By creating habits and methods for yourself to be successful, you can be more impactful to others. If it helps, think of it like running a marathon. You might be a great runner and in good shape, but unless you train properly you’ll never finish the race.
Start with something simple, like arriving to work ten minutes early every day. Anyone can do this. We all know that when we first get to work, it’s a flurry of setting down bags and getting laptops fired up, all while trying to make a cup of coffee and maybe eat a granola bar. By giving yourself a couple of extra minutes to accomplish all these things, you’ll be able to narrow in and focus as soon as the workday officially begins.
Another action is to engage with people. Make yourself available to proofread others’ work or brainstorm their project with them. Find someone in your office or in your field that you admire and ask them to get coffee to pick their brain on ways to improve. By investing in yourself and others, you can help the company be more successful.
Finding more ways to lead in your daily work life can help give more purpose to your job description and helps you prepare for the next level or opportunity that might come along. Positively impacting your environment is a transferable skill that will help you and those around you be more successful.