Leaders exist at every level in an organization, even when the title doesn’t reflect the role. Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in the C-suite or even managing others. It can be demonstrated when an employee takes the initiative to share their innovative ideas, volunteers to be part of a committee, or presents the work that a team has been collaborating on. Of course, people in leadership positions are expected to have a certain set of skills.
Whether you are an emerging leader or a seasoned executive, these strategies can help you stand out among your peers.
Take on a Leadership Role
Identify an area where you excel and find an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in that domain. Perhaps there is a project where you see a skills gap that you can fill. Maybe an internal initiative has been floundering because nobody has stepped up to push it along. Whatever opportunities exist in your case, identify them and seize them.
Remember that leadership is not reserved for just a handful of people in the organization. Anybody can step into a role that allows them to shine. By taking the initiative to offer your leadership skills in a way that serves team members and the organization as a whole, you’ll make a strong impression that could lead to future leadership opportunities.
Go Above and Beyond
People who cheerfully embrace extra tasks, especially the ones that nobody else wants to take on, demonstrate that they are willing to do whatever it takes to help the organization succeed. Whether you’re a manager or not, that is the behavior and mindset of a successful leader.
High-potential individuals are identified by their willingness to help others, spend extra time when necessary, and offer value when and where they can. Look for opportunities to support other individuals or teams if you want to demonstrate that you have leadership potential.
Develop Your Communication Skills
All great leaders are also great communicators. Presenting information to a group, listening to feedback, and having the courage to share new ideas are just a few examples of communication skills that will help you excel in your career.
When working in teams, ask for the chance to participate in presentations when the opportunity arises. Work on becoming an active listener, learn how to accept and respond to all types of feedback, and don’t be afraid to provide meaningful feedback to others. These are the types of behaviors that get recognized in people who have strong leadership potential.
The leaders in a group are the people who speak up when they have ideas and take action when they see that it is needed. Having the confidence to do this when it’s appropriate will demonstrate that you have leadership potential.
Don’t wait for somebody else to assign you a task—recognize when something needs to be done and take the initiative to do it yourself. If it is something that falls outside of your normal responsibilities but you know you can contribute, offer specific ways that you can help. You can make a real impact in your work simply by being proactive and making things happen.
One of the most effective ways to make an impact in an organization is to predict the future. Although you might not have a crystal ball, you do have skills that are relevant to your job and the ability to observe the world around you. This might include capitalizing on an opportunity that others didn’t yet recognize or keeping an eye on the industry trends that influence your business. It also includes identifying (and preventing) problems before they arise.
Demonstrate Leadership Through Behavior
If you are currently a leader in your organization, use these strategies to demonstrate that you have what it takes to help the company get to the next level. If you don’t hold an official leadership position, don’t wait until you have the title to show your leadership skills. You can make an impact no matter what your role in the company is.
Individuals at every level can continue to hone their leadership skills through training and development. You don’t even have to participate in a formal training program to be continually learning. Use the free resources available to you to gain new insights, learn new approaches, and build your skill set. Start with The Leader's Pocket Guide for Leading Yourself, Others & the Organization to make sure you have all of the necessary skills to be a leader in your organization.