Lead Your Way into Leadership

Much of my leadership career I had a leadership title but did little leading. I didn’t understand leadership.

Stop aspiring to become a leader its a waste of time. Leaders don’t aspire to leadership – they lead wherever they are.

Always see yourself as a leader even when you’re following. All leaders follow.

Leaders don’t wait for titles; leaders don’t need titles. Lead today.

Don’t wait for a “leadership” relationship or position to gradually develop; create it by humbly leading, now.


Don’t accept traditional definitions of leadership that include telling people what to do and standing in front of people talking.


Embrace the definition that leadership is influence. You always influence – believe it and own it.

Lead your way into a title:

Do what all leaders always do, regardless of their official position. Kouzes and Posner summarize the five practices of exemplary leadership in The Leadership Challenge.

You don’t need a leadership title to adopt the powerful practices of leadership:

  1. Model the way.
  2. Inspire a shared vision.
  3. Challenge the process/status quo.
  4. Enable others to act.
  5. Encourage the heart.


  1. Don’t challenge the status quo on your first day.
  2. Don’t create a vision – adopt the one that currently exists – and inspire others to adopt it too.

Immature or inexperienced leaders who challenge the status quo and try to inspire a shared vision seem arrogant, ignorant, or both.  Focus more on behaviors and less on talking.

A leadership track record earns titles and positions.

When you aren’t the official leader:

  1. Exhibit the practices of great leaders. If you aren’t leading without a title, a title won’t help.
  2. Help others reach their goals.
  3. The most powerful statement a leader without a title can make is a question; “How can I help?”

What suggestions can you offer for someone who wants to “become” a leader?