Leadership positions aren’t always given to the person with the highest-level title or the most years of experience. The position of “leader” can be achieved by any employee who has a solid work ethic and helps others on their team thrive. However, it can sometimes be uncomfortable to ask people who are senior to you to follow and respect you.
If you find yourself leading colleagues in higher positions with more experience, don’t fret — you can still inspire confidence and earn their trust. Thirteen members of Forbes Coaches Council shared advice on standing out as a leader, regardless of your experience level compared to your new team.
1. Serve Others
Becoming a leader is not something that occurs quickly or easily. The most effective way to be recognized as a leader is to help others become leaders. That servant leadership will inherently translate into authority, credibility and, eventually, the recognition of being a leader. – Kamyar Shah, World Consulting Group
2. Embrace Curiosity
When we’re among people we deem as more experienced, we can be too intimidated to ask questions, fearing we will appear foolish or ignorant. However, a thoughtful question shows that you are listening critically and are curious and open to others’ perspectives. It’s liberating to realize that you don’t have to be an expert to be a leader. You have to be open to influence and think objectively. – Deborah Goldstein, DRIVEN Professionals
3. Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission
Whenever possible, take on leadership roles. This can be done in a formal situation, such as chairing a committee. However, it can also be done informally if you begin mentoring junior employees, develop a plan to improve a process or recommend a potential solution to a company problem. None of these require “asking,” and colleagues will likely be impressed with your initiative. – Charlotte Weeks, Weeks Career Services, Inc.
4. Volunteer To Help
Leaders of organizations have a lot on their plate. If you focus less on yourself and more on “How can I help you,” “Let me tackle this challenge,” or “I’d love to help move people toward a new way of thinking,” then you’re already aligning in the direction of their goals — and alleviating some of their pain. It’s lonely at the top; the person who is first to volunteer often stands out. – Joanne Markow, GreenMason
5. Keep Your Own Supervisor In The Loop
Many leaders are overscheduled and drowning in a multitude of responsibilities. As a result, they can be disconnected from what their direct reports are really accomplishing. You will stand out among your peers (no matter their experience) by updating your leader regularly. Drop your boss a weekly wrap-up email or schedule biweekly 20-minute phone calls. – Stacey Staaterman, Stacey Staaterman Coaching & Consulting
6. Draw On Your Courage
Leaders are supposed to make sacrifices and go beyond themselves by creating a vision, pulling a team together and engaging them, and helping individuals to succeed. They need to have the courage to take accountability when things go wrong, protect people in times of crisis and make tough decisions when called for. Leadership is not just a position; it’s earned with courage. – Amy Nguyen, Happiness Infinity LLC
7. Collaborate And Share Credit For Results
Find a niche that you excel in and increases value for your employer while also helping a colleague. Help tackle one your peers’ (colleagues‘) thorniest problems, follow through so you have a positive impact and share the credit with the entire team. When you help reduce the stress for others by contributing your skills, you become more likable and known as an expert and an emerging leader. – Beth Kuhel, Get Hired, LLC
8. Ask To Be Mentored
Especially if it is not mandated at your organization, becoming a mentee can build profound career advancement advantages with leaders senior to you. Mentorship to senior leaders often implies a level of care and responsibility that goes beyond job obligations. To proactively develop a mentoring relationship creates powerful opportunities to learn and prove yourself with less risk. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
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