There are a lot of “bosses” in any given company. Between managers and team leads, not to mention your actual boss, the VP or VPs, you have a lot of people who are in the position to tell others what to do. What may be less clear is who the real leaders in a company are.
Leading is more than managing; it goes beyond being a boss. Being a leader is a person who sets an example, lives the company’s core values, and inspires others naturally to follow.
Being a leader within a company can happen at any level. Your leaders will usually identify themselves through actions, not words. Your leader won’t be broadcasting his or her accomplishments across the company in a manner that promotes self over collective. If your employee relies on a position, title, or role to create a following, he/she is not a leader. Your leaders will draw people to them without obligating anyone. The employee that sees the work environment as a zero sum game to win at the expense of another is not a leader. Leaders know, instinctively, that bettering others and doing what’s best for the company betters him/herself.
Leaders are the people who say yes. They are the people who will take on work outside the scope of their roles. They constantly seek to improve conditions, contribute ideas, offer insights, and ask questions. Leaders are exceptional communicators who can relay a sense of urgency or authority when necessary without sacrificing diplomacy and professionalism. Leaders know their weaknesses and work on them rather than hide from or lie about them.
Leaders aren’t perfect. A good leader doesn’t have to agree with everything the boss or company does; however, a good leader knows when to stand up for something and when to allow others to take the lead and trust. Often, a good leader may be a thorn in the sides of those who want to maintain the status quo.
A leader can convince, train, rally, and inspire others. A leader would never betray, manipulate, or belittle others.
A leader doesn’t need everyone to like him or her; they inherently command and give respect.
Finding who your leaders are may take some time and effort. It takes looking past the ambitious ladder-climbing types who are seeking a title, salary, or perceived authority from being a boss. It takes talking to your employees, but more than that, listening to and watching them. It takes putting personal bias aside and measuring everyone as objectively as possible.
Finding the true leaders in your company is always a worthwhile endeavor. They will be the ones you can trust with growth initiatives, the ones you can lean on for counsel, and the ones you should invest in for the future. For your company to grow, you need to find who your leaders are and help them reach their full potential.