How to be a leader when it’s not in your job title.
EVERYONE IS A LEADER. We are often placed in several areas of authority. Supervisor, manager, mom or dad—our job title often demands that we be leaders. As supervisors and managers we must rally a team or a store together to achieve the goal of bettering the business. As parents, we have to be a model and lead our children through maturity and onto adulthood. These are both roles in which we are forced to be leaders.
What about when we are not supervisors, managers, mothers or fathers? What happens when we do not have a title or a position and are just normal, everyday people? We sit at our desks and do our job. We drive the truck and deliver boxes. We are not anything extraordinary. We do not manager hundreds nor do me lead a few. We are just title‑less citizens.
But are there really people who do not lead? Are there actually people out there who have no impact on another person? I have a hard time believing this. Everyone has a range of influence. Whether it is a fellow coworker, neighbor, or a stranger on the street—we all can impact others and we can all be leaders.
Just because everyone has the potential to be a “title-less leader” does not mean they are taking advantage of that opportunity. There are certain qualities that a title-less leader must have. The following are some character traits that someone must have in order to be a title-less leader.
Be a Servent Leader
To some, being a servant seems to be the direct opposite of being a leader. How could a servant be a leader? That sounds absurd. However, this absurd logic is exactly what we need to have in order to be a leader and impact others.
Jesus was the best picture of a servant leader. He was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, and our Savior. He definitely had enough titles to go around. Nevertheless, He modeled servant leadership to us when He washed the feet of His disciples.
We will impact others when we start caring and serving each other. We will become leaders when we begin serving. The Spiritual Leader by Paul Chappell and J. Oswald Sander’s Spiritual Leadership are two books which I would highly recommend when it comes to the subject of servant leadership.
People have a hard time following a dishonest person. It is difficult to put your trust in someone who cannot be trusted to do what is right.
But what is integrity? Dictionary.com states that integrity is the “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” Integrity is having enough sense to do what is right. As already mentioned, it is following ethical and moral principles. Integrity is not knowing every aspect of the law and obeying it fully, but rather obeying our inherent conscience when it tells us something is wrong.
One might think that having integrity is a simple task, and I would agree. But people never fail to amaze me when the lack of integrity abounds. I must admit that it is hard to find integrity in my own life from time to time. I often allow my selfishness and fleshly nature to overcome any integrity that I possess. I say that to emphasize that having integrity is not something that just happens; you have to be mindful of it and plan for it.
People are looking for men and women of integrity to impact their lives. People of Integrity become the best leaders even if they do not have a specific title.
Grow in Humility
If a leader has to say he is a leader, it is likely that he is not one at all. No one likes following someone who is constantly telling others that he is in control.
No one likes arrogance. Pride and haughtiness is ugly and unattractive. Someone who is self-adsorbed disgusts people around him. No one likes to be around a person who is full of himself. Consequently, someone who if full of themselves does not have room for other people. People who are prideful and too self-adsorbed to care enough about other people cannot effectively lead.
I like what the Bible says in Luke 18:14: “…for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exhalted.” The Bible is saying to humble yourself, and that God will then exalt your position. God is telling us that when we humble ourselves, He is attracted to us. But God is not the only one attracted to humility; people like leaders who are humble. When someone is humble, people are attracted to them; which in turn, gives the leader the opportunity to impact lives. This is why humility must be a character of a title-less leader.
The Bible often talks about edification and encouraging others. Paul challenged Timothy and Titus to edify others and Jesus challenged His disciples to do the same. Obviously in the Bible, edification and encouragement are important.
Not only is being encouraging an important trait for daily life, it is also a trait that leaders should posses. Good leaders encourage the people around them. When someone around them is down or having a bad day, a good leader will lift their spirit and encourage them to move forward. When an employee is having a rough day, a good manager will do something to lighten their spirit. A good pastor or Sunday school teacher should always be encouraging the broken hearted around them. And when a child hurts their knee or is disappointed, who else should be there to help him but his mother? Leaders are designed to be encouragers.
But you do not have to have a title to be an encourager. Anyone anywhere can be encouraging. Whether one is in the middle or at the bottom of the food chain, everyone can encourage someone. Employees can encourage their coworkers. Students can encourage other students and the teachers. We can all find some way to encourage others around us. Being an encourager is one of the first steps to becoming a good leader…title or not.
It is hard to follow a child. No one would feel comfortable with an infant leading a multi-million dollar corporation. People would have a hard time trusting him because he is a child. In the same respects, people have a hard time trusting and following someone who is immature.
An immature person is someone who cannot take responsibility for his actions. Maturity does not come when you reach a certain age; maturity comes when you decide to take ownership of your actions. Immature people blame others and refuse to admit when they are wrong. Mature people know when they are wrong and will admit it.
People are more likely to allow mature people to impact and influence their lives. Mature people have a good grip on reality and understand how life works. Someone who is mature does not necessarily shine, but someone who is immature will stand out greatly. Maturity is attractive to people. Maturity opens doors to impact the lives of others.
Show Love Towards Others
Although it is the last on the list, I believe that love is the most important character trait for a leader to have. The Bible agrees with this it says that we can have all these great characteristics but if we do not have love, we are useless. Love is always and in everything the most important trait to contain.
John Maxwell captured this thought when he said, “People do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.” When you show that you care about people, your range of influence increases. People will follow someone who loves them. A slave who loves people will have more respect than a master who does not. Love brings people together and love builds trust. Love is what good leadership is built on.
Leadership without love is just manipulation. Consequently, people who are being manipulated grow to resent that leader. People will be faithful to someone who shows that they care, and people will allow themselves to be lead by someone who loves them.
Only a few times in my life have I been in a place of leadership—a position with a title. But often I found myself in title-less roles. Whether it was just another employee or another helper in the church, I often found myself in roles with little to no leadership. However, as was already mentioned, there is always someone who I could impact. If I choose to just be stagnant in the positions I am in, I might lose an opportunity to impact someone’s life.
As a Christian, my desire is to impact the lives of others positively for the cause of Jesus Christ. He made the greatest impact in my life, and I want to share that with others. There is always someone who needs Christ. There is always someone around me who I could impact or influence for Christ. But, if I do not have integrity, humility or love…I may lose that opportunity. Even though we may not be in a position of leadership or have a title that demands respect, we can still make a positive impact on others. We still can be title-less leaders.