How to Lead When You Aren't the Leader

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Pick me. Pick me! PICK ME!

Your nose scrunched up into your eyebrows as you tried with all of your might to send a message to the teacher. Still, she chose someone else. Round three of “follow the leader” began and, sure enough, you were stuck in the back of the line. Little did she know you were born to lead!

But that was then and this is . . . okay, so not much has changed. You’re still begging for a chance to lead. It might be at work, at home, at church or even in your community.

We’re here to offer encouragement. You don’t have to hold a title to lead. Look around you. There’s someone—maybe lots of someones—watching and following your lead. Lead well by heeding the guidelines below.

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Determine your goal.

Why do you want to lead? For some, the desire is innate. For others, it’s situational. Think first about what draws you to leadership. You may find a mix of selfish and servant-hearted reasons.

Awareness of not-so-great desires is a good thing. Use that knowledge to focus on the right desires and point yourself in the direction of your goal. Do you want to become a leader with a title one day, are you hoping to fill a temporary leadership gap, or do you simply want to serve other leaders who are in over their heads?

Work diligently.

You lead by example when you show up ready to work.

If you’re managing your home, make a to-do list and get your priorities in order. If you’re at work, do what needs to be done. Beneath your pay grade? Do it anyway. If you’re at church, look for an unmet need—there are plenty. If you’re in your community, join forces with others who are making a difference.

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (NKJV). Be a helping hand and see what happens.

Offer your expertise.

You might not be the primary leader, but you can take charge of smaller projects by offering your expertise. Think about what you do well and how your skills might make up for any deficiencies. Maybe you have a great idea, a solution to a problem or simply the time and patience to complete a task.

It takes courage to speak up about your strengths, but sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed. Volunteer to lead a project that you are uniquely designed to lead, and do it with excellence.

Watch what you say.

This one’s tough, right? When you’re overlooked time and time again in the leadership-selection process, it’s easy to become cynical. It’s only a matter of time before your thoughts become words.

Look out! Bad-mouthing is a dangerous and addictive habit. Don’t bash your leader. Don’t gossip about your peers. And, heaven help us, don’t brag about yourself.

Instead, consider Ephesians 4:29 which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV). Encouraging words are like a breath of fresh air. Keep your words in check and you’ll no doubt be admired and followed.

And next time you find yourself stuck in the middle of a “follow the leader” line, remember not everyone can lead. Just relax and have a little fun!

leadership | @ChrisBrownOnAir