“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” Stephen Covey
I once spent two months discussing, negotiating, talking about – ok arguing about – a title for my position. I lost that argument. For the next two years I learned to live with a title I didn’t like, and then I was promoted. Until I truly understood that leadership did not depend upon a title or position, it was difficult for me to feel successful in leadership. For many years, I tied my leadership value to my perceived achievement and the recognition of others.
I know differently now.
A title or position has nothing to do with leadership. Leadership begins within and is demonstrated through actions. Each of us has influence in whatever position we find ourselves, and the manner in which you use that influence impacts the lives of those around you and the life of your organization. The truth is we all lead every day. The problem is with our own view of leadership. Who chooses the restaurant for dinner? Who makes the phone call to a sad friend? Who is given the extra project at work because the boss knows it will be done? Who follows up to make sure the client is satisfied? All these are the actions of a leader. The leader understands what is needed and makes it happen.
Position isn’t everything but position can still be important. How do you move yourself out of your current position and into a more senior leadership position? There are a few things you can do to demonstrate leadership within your current role that might help you move into a new leadership role – one with a title you like.
Act with Integrity – Your character and integrity should be the place where your leadership begins. Plus, even a person with no integrity respects a person who has it.
Lead Well in All Places – Never look at a job or position as small or beneath you. Embrace the position and give it all you have. You will be rewarded.
Go the Extra Mile – In a recent article, Suzy Welch said if you want to get promoted, “you need to over-deliver.” She’s right. It’s also important that you give credit where credit is due – your team. Over-delivering results is beneficial to your organization and crediting your team demonstrates your ability to lead.
Network Continuously – Leadership is about influence and networking allows you to build influence. Building strategic relationships is beneficial to you, your team, and your organization.
Stay Away from the Drama – Most senior leaders don’t have the time or desire to participate in the office drama. You shouldn’t either.
A title doesn’t make you a leader. But, if you lead well in the smaller positions, you just might find yourself wearing a new title – the one you really want.