Leadership Without Management

Many famous statements differentiate between a manager and a leader. How to lead without being in a managerial role?

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  • Large multinationals with their matrix organisations often employ regional managers for concrete categories or go to market areas beyond the regular reporting line. These enhanced responsibilities are more challenging to motivate the team without being their direct boss. These “dotted line” roles need balanced visionary and participative styles to succeed in the sandwich between country teams and senior level.
  • Startup companies don’t use hierarchical models, all employees are hired to live an entrepreneurial spirit leading with inspiration. The fast-growing number of employees shares the same ideas and develop leadership behaviour. This represents an ideal chance for individual contributors to step up to a functional leadership role over time.

1. Creating a positive impact

Experts in their roles treat others with respect in an open and honest behaviour with a genuine interest to help beyond their roles. They pursue many chances to spread good vibes across an organisation by sharing success stories to their teams and beyond. Examples are conducting internal Lunch & Learn about topics of greater interest and volunteering activities without seeking personal benefits.

2. Gaining knowledge and continual development

Individuals in this group are often driven by the changes in their industry and drive their own continual personal development. Typical examples can be found in the ICT sector with Artificial Intelligence or in the Finance sector with the upcoming Blockchain revolution. These contributors strive for excellence at all times and can ignite passion for younger employees in more generic functions on this journey.

3. Becoming an authority in the field

External recognition for their own work motivates team members to learn and contribute. By contributing to conferences as keynote speakers or authoring for specialised publications, individuals can become well-recognised trusted advisors within their industry. Especially in the age of social media, other team members can be inspired to find their own voice beyond regular work.

4. Acting in the best interest of clients and stakeholders

Subject matter experts are well connected in their respective industry and build a professional network over years. They act with highest integrity and master the engagement with stakeholders on the base of mutual trust and respect. As problem solvers they serve customers with highest possible standards. Often staying longer in the company than top management, those individuals lead others with a “can do” attitude supporting the organisation’s values and reputation.

5. Mentoring the next generation

Sharing the skills and experience to graduates and younger colleagues is a very rewarding process for both sides. The mentor receives satisfaction by contributing to the mentee’s personal development. Younger employees provide a different perspective and help to develop a strong business network. For employers without a mentoring program, associations like the Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML) can fill this gap and add an external view.

Written by

Social Selling advocate at Hootsuite, strategic networker, book reviewer and leadership mentor. Writing here, on LinkedIn and on www.gunnarhabitz.com.au.

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