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5 Ways to Lead, even if you're not a Leader

"A leader is someone who has willing followers. You become a leader by knowing where you want to go, having the guts to expose this knowledge and succeeding in convincing people to follow you" - Richard I. Polis, Entrepreneur/Consultant from a post on Quora.

I have the privilege of being in the HR profession that allows me to have a good overview on Organisational health and people issues within the Company. In recent engagement surveys and 360 feedbacks, I've seen great comments, but also appalling feedbacks of people losing their heads following "leaders" who either can't lead or they don't respect. We know that people managers can be where they are due to tenure, job rotations/progression. Doers and individual contributors alike are given these roles as new managers because they are good at what they are doing. And then, Natural leaders excel, while others struggle. I hope the 5 pointers below will trigger some inspiration for your leadership journey :)

1. Initiate and Take Calculated Risks (even if its out of your comfort zone)

Efficiency vs objectivity, which one would you choose? Well, the answer is, it depends. Leaders are proactive and self-motivated themselves - they do things without being asked or told. By maintaining a perspective and consequence on the end goal, they identify needs, and they act to fulfil them without waiting for management direction. They don't like status quo. they pursue best process, innovate and making recommendations that make impact beyond the scope of their role in order not to jeopardise any situation. Leaders are willing to take on complicated problems - those that most people avoid. They maintain a high level of integrity, willing to speak out rather than go along with impending mistakes. This means being able to question the bigger picture in all directions, in order to be strategic in a respectful way. Those who fear making decisions often loses the respect from their team as they become goal stoppers.

2. Stay Focused

Remain focus on what is important and stay away from negativity or office gossips. Optimism is contagious! It differentiates yourself as a non-bias character for people to look upon. This positive energy is exactly the same personality they can trust and stay close to. If successful, you will be able to have uninvited information flowing into your space, which may be have great impact to future decisions you make.

3. Think Outside Your Team

Your members work with you, your team work with other teams, and they in turn work engages all of you as one body to move the Company forward. It is therefore important that we think of the Company as a multidisciplinary team. When dealing with issues, think of how it may affect others. Volunteer and put into action by offering to contribute or even identifying gaps to corporate-wide initiatives by taking the lead role. One step at a time, from your department, to the office, to the entire organisation, your impression as a leader improves and will spread like wild fire.

4. Recognise Efforts from People Around You

Without your team, you are nothing as a leader. Leaders don't wait to receive gratitude. In fact, they don't expect any. Its in their blood to make change. They are generous to give kudos to their team members, peers, and managers. Recognise others for their contributions 1 to 1, publicly expressing your appreciation to make your them feel valued. This memory will be with them for life. Being remembered for the hard work and hours they've put in for you is much more effective than using monetary incentives (most of the experienced ones reading this will agree with me that it works for awhile, but fails most of the time to retain talent). Motivating people and being willing to share praises in the spirit of positivity makes you stand out as a person, and in time someone that they are also willing to work for you during tough times.

5. Take On Leadership Outside Work

Practice makes perfect. Leadership is an Art, and a craft. Go beyond that 5 days work week and take on leadership roles outside work. Volunteer for a team outing, take on leadership roles in associations and interest groups. Create interest groups and take the lead to bring people together. Being the breadwinner at home, leading your kids and family is a natural way of honing leadership skills.

Leadership is not just limited to traditional workplace scenarios, it is a choice you make in life to impact the lives of others you touch.

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