Monday, February 11, 2008

Leading from Below

Anyone can lead. An element of leadership that I have stressed previously is that you can lead from anywhere on the organizational chart. You do not need a title to lead as I suggested in Leadership - No Title Required. Anyone can lead and you can lead from anywhere.

This notion was validated by an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Leading from Below. The article offered a bevy of suggestions for the leader who makes a deliberate choice to lead from any position in the organization. The article is recommended. Here are a few of my favorite elements.

Make the decision to be a leader.
Make a conscious decision to lead and move beyond your current service role. Make the decision on your own. Take the risk and you'll thrive in your job and get that next promotion.

Focus on influence, not control.
Enlist people around you to work on a common cause. Try to get people to act on their own. Adopt the perspective of the people around you. Don't hoard information. Share it. Keep things simple and clear and win the devotion of the people around you. Think influence not control.

Make your mental organizational chart horizontal rather than vertical.
Ignore any traditional organizational charts. View your colleagues as a focus group and connect and collaborate to solve your teams challenges. Even extend your connections to customers, suppliers and other external to the company. Your personal org chart can be simply flat.

Work on your "trusted adviser" skills.
Try to obtain the role of "trusted advisor" to the people that surround you. Listen more than you talk. Ask questions. Turn conversations into meaningful discussions.

Don't wait for the perfect time, just find a good time.
Don't wait for an invitation to lead. Perhaps look for an opportunity where change is eminent and people are looking for new approaches. Mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations might create an easy opportunity for new leadership.

Leadership can occur from anywhere in the organization and is available to anyone who makes a conscious decision to lead.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


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