If you have ambitions to get ahead at work and manage your own team, you have to prove to the higher ups that you can handle being a leader. While that might seem easier said than done to some, there are simple and small ways to act like a leader at work that help you prove that you have the ability to rally teams and get your work done.
Leadership isn't just about sitting at the front of a table and dolling out instructions and tasks. It's more about motivating the office to put its best foot forward, bringing in industry developments to keep the business growing, and doing each task with enthusiasm and commitment. You don't need to have the corner office to pull all that off. And if you show off those tendencies even as you're an entry level employee, you can count that your boss will notice.
From giving people credit for a job well done during a meeting to being brave enough to speak up during your own annual review, there are plenty of ways to display leadership skills. Below are 11 tips on how to prove you're a leader at work — get ready to make a difference in the office.
1. Pitch A Lunch Group Or Workshop
Being a leader isn't all about speaking up more in meetings. You can also show your strengths by pitching a lunch group or workshop that you'd love to lead. "Do you love reading business books? Ask to lead a monthly book club during lunchtime that ties in to topics that relate to your industry and/or company culture. Are you super organized? Ask to lead a workshop where you share your project management techniques," Michelle Ward, a career coach for creative women, shares in an email interview with Bustle. If you link it to your strengths and interests, you'll create something imressive and worthwhile.
2. Take Credit For Work In Meetings
A little humble bragging can go a long way in the office — after all, how are people to know how hard working you are if you don't share it with them? "Highlight what you’re working during meetings and even more importantly, if someone takes credit for your work, you need to stand up for yourself. To that point, feel free to mention a colleague’s good work as well. Share the wealth, and by that I mean praise. True leaders aren’t hesitant to shine the spotlight on someone else when credit is due," Vicki Salemi, Career Expert for Monster, shares in an email interview with Bustle. Being noticed motivates people, which s exactly what a true leader does.
3. Speak Up During Your Review
It can be tempting to just smile and nod through your review, but to make it really work for you, voice what you love about your job and what you'd like to change. "I had a client realize that she didn't like her job, but she loved her company. Once she clarified more of what she did want to work on, she brought it up during her annual review. Because she was a valued member of the organization, they wound up custom creating the position for her!" Ward explains. If she hadn't spoken up, she wouldn't have a position she was excited to come to every morning.
4. Begin Solving Problems
When something goes wrong don't be part of the hive that complains and stresses about it. Instead, step up with action steps. "Instead of being part of the problem, be part of the solution. Be proactive and then report back to your boss and to the group regarding next steps," Salemi advises. A leader doesn't wait for others to fix problems; they take charge immediately.
5. Set Up Boundaries
Saing yes to everything doesn't make you a team player — rather, it has the potential to make you a pushover. "Stop being a Yes Woman already, and set boundaries around what you will and won't do at work. Do leaders agree to do everything that's asked of them, especially if it puts their work quality at risk? I didn't think so," Ward points out. You have to prioritize.
6. Keep The Momentum Going In Meetings
Has your group been stuck on a particular point for the last 10 minutes with no solutions? Take charge and commit yourself to keeping those meetings constantly moving forward. "You can create an agenda and ensure speakers stick to it, and/or jump in with comments like, 'Well, since we’ve discussed this for a few minutes, why don’t Liz and Bob speak with accounting offline and follow up with an email afterwards sharing what they discovered?'" Salemi recommends. People will naturally start expecting you to take charge like that.
7. Help Coworkers That Need It
Being a leader doesn't mean you just look out for Number One. You also keep an eye on the office and make sure everyone else is running at optimal speeds. "If you see a coworker struggling, jump in and help them, but there’s a fine line as you toggle between ensuring you still get your work done as well," Salemi suggests. Even if it's just forwarding them free workshops that help them bone up on their skills, small moves like that show signs of leadership.
8. Stay Up-To-Date With Your Industry
If you're constantly reading articles, listening to podcasts, and flipping through industry books, you'll bring new information and ideas to your office. "When you're passionate about your job, you want to do everything you can to get better at it, and bring your company up with you. Keeping on top of ever-evolving industry trends is one way to show your dedication," entrepreneur writer Nicole Fallon from Business News Daily offered. You'll constantly have ideas on how to transform your company for the better, which shows true initiative.
9. Get To Know Your Coworkers
Not only will being close with your coworkers make the office feel more simpatico, but knowing their strengths and personal talents can help you suggest them for projects and assignments. "You know the names and job functions of your team members, but do you really know who they are as people? Getting to know your staff on a personal level will not only help them feel more valued, but help you manage them better, too," Fallon suggested.
10. Acknowledge People's Hard Work
Successful leaders celebrate team members' wins and hard work, so shine some light when a job well done has happened. "Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them," Glenn Llopis business writer from Forbes suggested. Whether it's bringing it up in a meeting or high-fiving them at their desk, spreading praise only makes people want to work harder for the cause.
11. Look For A New Job
Sometimes the place you're in just doesn't have the room to help you move forward. In those cases, a true leader isn't scared to stretch her legs a little. "Even if you do all of these other things to become a leader, it’s possible that you’re just fishing in the wrong pond. Your leadership may not be valued and/or recognized by your current employer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to hone this preparation phase, only that you need to find a better employer that recognizes your leadership potential," Salemi suggests. If the opportunities truly aren't there, you need to find them where they are.
Even if you're in a lower level job, you can still practice your leadership skills. Try these out and see where they take you.
Images: @itsnotheritsme/Instagram; Bustle