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Leading Without a Title

By Joey Havens

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One of the questions that I receive or hear from team members, friends, business associates and yes, even my children, is, “How can I lead?” I might mention that I do not get this question from CeCe (my wife), as she leads our family daily! And yes, I go outside with the dog now.

It’s perplexing sometimes that so many people wait to lead. Some have even shared that they were waiting for permission to lead. Today, everyone must lead and every voice counts. And if you wait to lead, or you don’t get really good at these principles, your leadership will be a flat liner. So how can we all lead every day? Let’s think about these five leadership principles—all of which demonstrate real leadership regardless of title. 

Here are some principles to start practicing daily. 

  1. Positive voice – When we provide our team, clients, family and friends with a positive voice, we elevate everyone—including ourselves. People are influenced by positive voices. It’s easy to be negative, but leaders are positive even when facing challenges. A positive voice also generates a greater sense of belonging for everyone you interact with. Yes, it’s a mindset and if you change your mindset, you change your leadership influence.
  2. Candor and truth – Collaboration is what challenges and changes the status quo—and that starts with the truth. Differences of opinion expressed respectfully, combined with intense listening to create real impact. Always challenge privately and praise publicly. Provide solutions or ideas with candor around concerns or problems. Every idea matters as every organization is faced with disruption and a fast-paced complex business environment.
  3. Mission and team – When we serve our team and focus on our mission, we have impact. People respect us and look to us for more leadership. Selfish motives are evident and they diminish our ability to lead or build trust.  Trust can only be given to us, so being selfless helps people be vulnerable enough to extend their trust.  We cannot lead if we put ME before WE.
  4. Feedback – Always be a champion of asking for and receiving feedback. Use feedback to show the vulnerability to #beEvenBetter. Feedback is the only thing that dims our “self-view.” Practice listening intently to gain a higher emotional IQ. Leading requires us to understand, anticipate and communicate based on the emotions of those around us. Empathy is leading. Practice giving timely feedback to others that has candor, caring and respect all bundled in.  Even hard feedback can be received graciously if given with a caring spirit.  Demonstrate appreciation regularly. 
  5. Full potential – Leading requires that we stay on a journey of pursuing our full potential. It’s not a destination, we can #beEvenBetter every day. Embrace being a life-long learner. Leading means we stretch our comfort zones and embrace challenges. We develop a strong “I can do this” attitude. As John Maxwell pointed out years ago, our full potential is in sight if we believe in ourselves and hold ourselves accountable. 

Five quick ways for us to lead everyday, regardless of position. I hope this helps your leadership journey in some small way. Remember, everyone can make a difference—if they choose to.