Be a Leader: Title or Not Jessica Lunk Everyone has a role to play in business. There are people who can always be counted on to provide solid work, there are others who ask really important questions, and then there are others who motivate everyone to perform better. Some of these people have titles and some of them do not, but when it comes to being a leader, titles really don’t matter. How Can You Be a Leader? Being a leader has to do with one thing: choosing to be proactive. Yep, that’s it! The only thing you need to do to be a leader is to make a conscious choice to become one. Although some people may have a natural leadership instinct, everyone can make the choice to be a leader and then work hard at it. The following are some simple ways you can become a leader—title or not: Work like crazy. Leaders identify themselves as such by doing really good work. By always going the extra mile, leaders earn the respect of others who also want to work as hard or as well. Another result of working extra hard is trust; other employees and superiors trust that you can take on more difficult and challenging tasks. When a respected person does excellent work and makes a supreme effort, coworkers notice and mimic that effort. Help others. Leaders are part of teams who are striving to accomplish the same thing, often by ensuring everyone is up to speed and on board. When someone is struggling to keep up with the amount of work or the quality of work, the team suffers. A leader goes to the person who is struggling and assists them or ensures they have what they need to succeed. Assistance with the struggling coworker may help them do better in the future, and they will be more likely to be just as helpful in the future. Encourage others. Leaders have the power to influence. That influence can be for bad—griping about deadlines and resources—or that influence can be for good—encouraging everyone to work toward the same goal with high-quality efforts. Never underestimate the power of compliments and praise. Everyone responds to positive reinforcement and building positive relationships is the only way to be an effective leader. Receiving a leadership title without having any relationships with those you lead make you an ineffective leader. Speak up. Be willing to suggest changes that will make things work better in the office. Read blogs and other material that will offer suggestions—not just materials on leadership, although they are important—but articles about your industry. Sometimes, if you make a suggestion to your boss, your idea will be shot down. This can be a learning opportunity. What may seem like a great idea to you might not, in reality, be possible. In the least, your boss knows you have ideas to share and you can now use that knowledge to learn more about your business. Even without a title, there are many ways to be a leader. Leadership and responsibility can make jobs more enjoyable. Becoming a leader now, without a title, can eventually lead to the title, but even if it doesn’t, you will have gained the respect of your peers, contributed quality work and done your best for the company you work for.