In a business environment, you can demonstrate your leadership by taking the role of a leader. While leaders come in many shapes and sizes, they all share (or they should) a commitment to corporate objectives. Leaders help people reach organizational goals. Those people may be above, beside or below you on the organization chart.
How are you at building consensus among your peers? Let’s define “peers” as the people beside you on the org chart; people within your company who are at the same job-level as you. So if you’re a manager, your peers are other manager level people within the company. When you need help, can you get one or more of your peers to help you out? Must you always escalate every problem to your supervisor? Or can you work things out with your peers? Do you have peers you can relate with or to?
Leadership or influence with your peers keeps you from the trap of dependence on your supervisor. If you can solve problems without constantly running back to your supervisor to work things out with other teams within the company, you are leading up and across. You free your supervisor up to handle other issues, at the same time you establish yourself as one who can get things done. If you practice servant-leadership with your peers, you also help them do the same things with their supervisors.
You will have many opportunities to practice, exercise and strengthen your leadership skills with your peers. The key is keeping your eyes and ears open. Things to do to help you improve in this area include:
- Give before you get. Peer relationships tend to have some tension just due to the sometimes competitive nature of the corporate environment. As a result, you can often reduce tension by being available to help your peers first. It’s hard to doubt the motives of someone who has shown over time that they’re willing to help you for no personal gain. You must truly put others first.
- Study organizational priorities. When you can truly understand your employer’s priorities and where your team fits in the overall scheme of things, you are better equipped to help your company operate like a team. Teams must have common goals and a shared mental model of how each member’s contribution fits in the overall plan. You will develop influence as you strategically contribute resources to achieve the most important corporate targets. When you hold resources back for your own pet projects, you assign your team greater importance than your leadership. You will sacrifice creditability with your peers as a result. We all tend to think our group is the most important group in the company, but you must learn to understand your leader’s priorities in order to make sure you don’t end up fighting for a lost cause.
- Choose your leadership efforts wisely. By this I mean that you should refrain from taking a leadership position among your peers before you’ve developed a good understanding of the organization’s goals. Otherwise, you risk influencing your peers in a direction contrary to organizational priorities. Also you may make commitments you can’t keep. Either will only cause trouble.
- Give after you get – give recognition, praise and encouragement freely. Remember, this is not about you. You need to make sure that people that help you are rewarded and excel.
Can you think of other things you can do to exercise leadership with your peers? What are the big obstacles and how do you get around them? Please comment below and share your thoughts.
Start by putting the company and your peers first. When you can understand their contribution to the overall operation, you’ll understand their needs better. Then you can align your team to provide maximum benefit. That’s leadership. Exercise, practice and demonstrate that leadership by helping everyone achieve corporate goals gracefully and efficiently.