Quiet leadership: How to lead without the fanfare
Thursday, August 24, 2023
Some leaders shine, some leaders shout and some leaders set an example. They're all visible. There are ways to lead without being demonstrative, and those leaders are noticed no matter how quietly they perform.
In the same way that lions don't need to tell the other animals that they're lions, leaders shouldn't have to wear a badge or jump up and down to indicate their roles.
Leadership involves more than doing your job, but doesn't translate to unpaid hours. Show your staff how it's done. Be willing to dig in and work. And dismiss the smirks and comments from the naysayers. This isn't grade school, and you're not trying to be teacher's pet.
Here are some ways to exhibit leadership without making a show of it.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Follow up on commitments, and carry out not only what you intend to do, but what benefits your department or company. Don't wait for someone to prod you to complete a task – set your own timeline. Acknowledge mistakes and make efforts to repair them and avoid them going forward.
Act Like You've Been There Before
This phrase has sports connotations, but it applies universally. Whether an issue stumps you or whether you've unlocked an achievement, take it in stride. Save the angst or celebration for another time and venue.
Dispense Advice Frugally
Not everyone wants your input, even if your way is the best – or only – way. Often, it's better to express your opinion by saying, "Here's what I would do …" instead of "You should do it this way …" Be cognizant that even if you're trying to mentor a less experienced colleague, they might be getting guidance from other sources that they're bound to follow. Diverting from that could affect their assessment.
Be Happy For Others' Successes
Acknowledge them, congratulate and celebrate. You can't have a great team without great team members. And if the accomplishment is yours, be humble in accepting praise from others.
Mistakes shouldn't be broadcast, especially if they're made by others. Ensure that the miscue won't be repeated, but there's no benefit in fostering resentment or fear of failure. If you know of upcoming changes, show that you're trustworthy. When the company wants the news known, officials will reveal it. In the meantime, they have their reasons for keeping information under wraps.
Volunteer Quickly for Extra Tasks
If someone falls behind, lift them up. We're all pulling on the same rope. Instead of looking at the workplace like an individual effort, consider it a relay race in which everyone has their role in the overall success. Supervisors will always appreciate the extra hands. After all, the duties don't disappear; they have to be performed. Your help prevents them from falling on the same group every time.
Avoid complaining about your job, the company, your bosses, your coworkers. Every situation has its drawbacks. Don't belabor them. If you see downfalls, work on solutions. Joining in negativity only makes it grow instead of making the problem shrink.
Embrace Engagement & Participation
Sometimes you don't have the time (or inclination) to attend that staff event. Attend anyway. Be present. It sets a good example for colleagues. Someone in the organization found value in the event, and others put forth the effort to stage it. It's not your place to judge whether it's worthy of your presence.
If it's a potluck, contribute. If you can't cook or don't have time to prepare something, share in the costs, or help with the setup.
If it's a team-building activity, simply being there shows you consider yourself part of a team, and shows that you value your teammates. No one expects you to be an expert on whatever activity is presented, only that you're committed. It's also a chance for others to get to know you. That way, they can approach you with familiarity in a work situation, and vice versa.
Be of good humor. Be approachable. Be positive.
Be aware that others are watching, even if you think they're not. You'll never know who will benefit from your positive outlook. Even if no one else does, it benefits you.
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