One of the greatest myths of leadership is that you must be in charge in order to lead. Great leaders don’t buy it. Great leaders lead with or without the authority and learn to unleash their influence wherever they are. Pastor Clay Scroggins explains what is needed to be a great leader–even when you answer to someone else.
We’ve been taught that leadership is about using the gun of authority. Leaders pull out the gun of authority and say, “If you don’t do what I say, then I’ll fire you or I’ll make life miserable for you.” But leaders who leverage authority to get things done aren’t great leaders. The greatest leaders leverage influence . . . even when they’re in charge.
Your boss isn't in charge of you; you're in charge of you. Create a game plan for leading yourself well by doing three things: Model followership by demonstrating you can follow well. Monitor your heart and behavior by checking your motives and understanding your blind spots. Make a plan for how to reach your desired leadership destination.
Positivity is powerful. It's not a personality trait. It's not about being a positive person versus being a negative person...or even a realistic person. It's the outflow of a broader perspective. You can choose positivity. When you do so, you change the energy of your team, your humility makes ideas work — even if you don't believe in them — and team unity is forged.
Critical thinking is a skill worth spending time to develop. By being fully present in relationships and environments, critical thinkers notice things, question things, and connect things. They’re not content with the status quo, but are constantly trying to make it better. However, the line between thinking critically and being critical is razor thin. Although learning to think critically is a skill, being critical is a snare to avoid for anyone looking to cultivate the influence needed to lead well.
Being the boss has its challenges, but being able to call the shots, make decisions, and choose the direction at least gives a semblance of control. Conversely, one of the most common challenges of not being in charge is the lack of perceived control. When you feel out of control, you’ll naturally drift toward passivity. Avoiding the trap of sitting on your hands in resignation or throwing your hands up in frustration is crucial in leading without authority.
Good leaders have the instinct to do what needs to be done. When they see a problem, they want to fix it. When they find a gap, they want to fill it. And really good leaders find solutions no one else would have thought of. That’s great, unless you don’t have authority to fix the problem you see and the people who have the authority don’t see the problem at all. What do you do when solving a problem requires you to challenge the people who have authority over you?