10 Tips for Leadership When You’re Not the Boss

by Evil HR Lady on September 19, 2019

When founders and CEOs look to hire and promote managers, they want people who exhibit leadership. But how can you exhibit leadership if you’re stuck in individual contributor roles? No one reports to you, and you’re not even a project manager.

Good news is, leader isn’t a title, it’s a group of characteristics, and you can acquire them, even if you’re not the boss. Here are 10 ideas:

1. Communicate clearly. Leaders don’t grumble behind closed doors when things don’t go their way. They don’t say yes when they should have said no. They say what they mean, and do so in a way that people understand. This is not advocating rudeness, but it is advocating dropping passive-aggressive behavior.

2. Learn flexibility. There’s rarely a “right” way to do something. If you are going to insist that things be done a certain way, you’re headed down the micromanager path, and that’s not what leadership is about. Ask yourself, “Is this the wrong way to do it, or is it just a different way?”

3. Don’t be a doormat. Leaders stand up for themselves, politely. Jerks stand up for themselves rudely. If somebody interrupts you in a meeting, simply say, “I’m sorry, can I finish?” If your slimy co-worker tries to dump her work on you, say, “That won’t be possible.” Does this mean you never do a favor? Absolutely not. You do do favors, but you do so because you are nice or because it benefits you and the company, not because you can’t say no.

To keep reading, click here: 10 Tips for Leadership When You’re Not the Boss

Leave your thoughts on leadership characteristics in the comments!

(This ran before, but I thought it was worth re-reading!)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Aspie September 19, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Does asking for “special treatment” include invisible disability accommodations? I know what ADA says, but implicit bias in promotions and opportunity for growth doesn’t always hinge on objective facts and measurement. This helps me to understand my “non-career” – too much wanting what’s different from the norm. If only I could blend in and just be like everyone else….but still exceed expectations and excel in performance to be “special.” Sorry – I just am confused by this advice and its relationship to diversity and inclusivity or is it just reality and I should let it roll off my back?

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Betsy September 19, 2019 at 6:15 pm

I think so much depends on the industry, nature of the job, and how successfully you communicate in concrete terms what sort of accommodations you need. It can vary from employer to employer, too, so that can be confusing, but the ADA protects workers with all sorts of disabilities, visible or not. And I think more employers today are able to recognize the value of employees who may live with such invisible disabilities. Courage!

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Jen September 19, 2019 at 10:35 pm

I don’t believe that she was saying that you shouldn’t ask for an accommodation for a disability. It sounds to me like she was referring to people who are very high maintenance and believe that they are special and better than everyone and need to be treated as such. Asking for an accommodation to be able to do your job effectively is not special treatment, it is just brining you to the same level that everyone else is already at in terms of how productive they are at their job. This goes for all disabilities, invisible or not. Most people will understand this, but I do realize that it is easier to understand someone’s request for accommodation when their disability is physical. However, the ADA protects all disabilities the same and if a company were to take someone’s disability into consideration when making hiring, firing, or promotion decisions etc… then they would be in violation of that law.

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MariaRose September 19, 2019 at 11:22 pm

Dear Jen, are you saying those “high maintenance” individuals don’t qualify for classification as having a disability if they alone believe they are special and so much better than everyone else and have to be treated as such. (I am referring to a select group who whine the most and threaten everyone else if they don’t get their way.)

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Jen September 20, 2019 at 10:05 pm

No, I am pretty sure that simply feeling you are special does not entitle you for an accommodation under the ADA 🙂

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