Getting Promoted

10 Ways to Demonstrate Leadership When You’re Not The Boss

how to demonstrate leadership

Understanding how to demonstrate leadership when you’re not the boss is an art.

It’s also a must-have skill if you’re serious about being promoted at work and in life.

The most important thing to know is this — You don’t need the title to be a leader.

There are simple ways to show up as a leader without being in charge.

Here are 10 ways to demonstrate leadership skills no matter your title.


How To Demonstrate Leadership


1. Sit upfront in meetings

Think twice before sitting in the back row at your next work meeting. Where you sit in a meeting, says something about you.

When you sit up front in meetings, it does a few things. 

A) It shows you care

B) It shows you plan to be a part of the conversation

C) It says you’re important


As a leader, you want to position yourself front-and-center in every meeting you attend. 

Because you can’t make a difference if you’re hiding in the back. 

Check out our article about 100 good questions to ask in meetings for every meeting type! 


What this looks like

Arrive at your meetings a few minutes early. 

This way you can scope out the room. 

And strategically place yourself next to decision-makers.


2. Take on highly visible projects at work


There are two types of projects in the workplace. Visible and invisible work.

Visible work is high value and projects that get noticed by leadership. Invisible work needs to get done to keep the business going. 

You get paid for invisible work and get promoted for visible work. Raise your hand for visible work whenever possible.

Studies show that women tend to be invisible at work to avoid backlash from bosses and colleagues.

To get ahead at work, you have to be seen. 


What this looks like

Say your company is getting acquired.

Invisible work is helping to organize the files and paperwork to close out the deal. 

Now visible work is a bit sexier.

Visible work is creating a leadership transition plan to help onboard the new executives. 

See the point I’m making?


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3. Skip the Office Drama 


You can’t afford to be seen throwing shade at people you could one day manage. So avoid office drama at all costs. 

If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, you have to come across as neutral. 

Meaning you have no favorites or enemies. 

Presenting yourself as a leader means you have to be the bigger person at all times. 

So stay out of your feelings. 


4. Speak up first in team meetings


If you have something important to say. Then say it.

Don’t wait for permission from others to speak up

No matter your level, always see your opinion as value-adding. Because it is. 


What this looks like

Always prepare 2 – 3 questions or talking points for every meeting you attend. 

Be the first to raise your hand when Q&A starts.

Pay attention throughout the meeting so you don’t ask questions that we’re already answered.

Don’t be that person!


5. Brand yourself as a go-to person


Don’t be stingy if there’s a topic that you know very well. 

Good leaders are very generous with sharing their knowledge

Sharing your skills with others positions you as a go-to person on that topic.


What this looks like

Say you’re known for strong time management skills

Offer to lead a time management training for your department that’s struggling with too many overtime requests. 

Think of something you’re always being complimented on. Now go offer to help someone in that area.

That’s how you brand yourself as a go-to person. 


6. Solve business problems


If you want to be a leader, getting paid and staying out the way won’t cut it anymore. 

You have to solve problems for your company. 

This means gathering the right data and offering solutions based on your observations. 


What this looks like 

In a group setting, help keep your team focused by asking the right questions. 

Here are some questions you can ask to come across leader like: 

Do we have the info we need to evaluate the situation? 

Can we stay focused on finding the root cause of the problem?   

What other options are we overlooking? 


7. Share Feedback with co-workers 


Good leaders can give and receive feedback. 

But what kind of feedback should you give when you’re not the boss? Try offering simple appreciation.


What this looks like

“I thought you did an excellent job in there.” 

Never underestimate the power of kind words.


8. Make friends with other leaders at work


You’re an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you want to be a leader and none of those people are. 

It’s time to change that. Don’t feel like a sell-out for wanting to upgrade your social circle with high value people. 


What this looks like

Invite a leader you admire to a virtual lunch date.   

This can be someone at work or online. 

Don’t come off like you want their job (even if you do lol).

Or else they may not help you. During this meeting, ask for nothing. 

Just get to know them. And find out how you can add value to their lives.  


9. Know your stuff


Showing up as a leader means knowing your industry in and out.

This means being obsessed with learning as much as possible about your field.


What this looks like

Set up google alerts for keywords in your industry. 

You may want to create a separate email account for this. 

This way you stay on top of the latest trends happening in your field. 


10. Go the extra mile at work


Doing the bare minimum won’t cut it for a future leader.  

Find ways to go above and beyond what’s expected in your job. Volunteer for projects in other departments.

Offer to cover for a co-worker on PTO. Whatever you do, don’t just do your job!


Demonstrating Leadership at Work


You don’t need to be the boss to lead. Hopefully, this helps you understand how to demonstrate leadership.

When you join our NetWerk® Community, you get instant access to our Free Career Center with guides and templates to develop your leadership skills.

Our Leadership Readiness quiz can help you get started. Head over to download it for free!


Over To You


How are you demonstrating leadership at work? Head to our comments section on social @netwerkmovement and let us know! Share this with a future leader!


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