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How can you build leadership experience when you don't hold official leadership roles?

I'm a rising college senior looking to maximize her last year of college - would appreciate any help / advice you might have!

#july20 #leadership


Be a good follower. Good leadership is an art. You can study leadership, you can read about it, but every leadership situation is different and should not be handed the same. Take ownership in everything you do and be a good follower. You will know when it’s time to lead. Daniel Burgess

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19 answers


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Bawana’s Answer

Leadership is not about a title or the role you “are assigned”. It is the role “you play”.

Can you create something new - an idea, a plan, a vision. Can you influence others to follow your idea or plan? Can you gain their trust?

Look for examples in any on or off campus activities you may be a part of. Take the initiative to solve a problem you see. It could be something very small or specific or much larger. The key is to identify the problems or solution that affect other people. The more people you impact, the wider your leadership influence.

Leadership is about who follows you. Not about who you oversee. When others see that your approach and ideas make their lives better or easier or fix something for them, they naturally look to you for more and follow your guidance.

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Sendil’s Answer

You don't have to hold leadership roll to be a leader, you can assist your self in your day to day life if you can become good leader.

“The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”
Influence doesn’t come from position. Influence comes from caring for others. If you don’t care for people, you cannot influence them. If you cannot influence others, you cannot lead. It’s through relationships that leaders gain influence.

Developing influence means making the decision to care for others. Leaders care about the impact their actions have on others. Leaders care about the quality of their relationships. Leaders care about the kind of contribution they’re making to others and to the world.

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Sendil’s Answer

You don't have to hold leadership roll to be a leader, you can assist your self in your day to day life if you can become good leader.

“The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”
Influence doesn’t come from position. Influence comes from caring for others. If you don’t care for people, you cannot influence them. If you cannot influence others, you cannot lead. It’s through relationships that leaders gain influence.

Developing influence means making the decision to care for others. Leaders care about the impact their actions have on others. Leaders care about the quality of their relationships. Leaders care about the kind of contribution they’re making to others and to the world.

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Brian’s Answer

There are always opportunities to lead, even before a formal role opens up. Take those opportunities when they present themselves, and when a formal role opens up, you'll have something to point to.

It's important to remember though that a good leader listens to stakeholders and members of the team. Being a leader isn't just deciding where to go or what to do in a vacuum. It requires thoughtfulness and team-building as much as decisiveness and clarity of communication.

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Sonia’s Answer

You are being a leader by asking this question.....!

We are all leaders. And have a huge responsibility to each other and ourselves to do this to our best abilities.

A couple of areas that you might find helpful to focus on:

- be curious - leaders don't just accept the status quo as an answer they are seeking to understand things from different perspectives and want to know 'why'
- communicate more than you ever think you need to - leaders are great communicators. They know when to listen, speak and how to hold silence. Practice each of these skills
- be supportive - leaders support others. Support sadly doesn't mean always being nice. It means challenging people too to be the best versions of themselves but in a caring and compassionate way.

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James’s Answer

Holding a leadership role does not make one a leader. You must first learn how to follow before you can lead. Join a club or volunteer in various organizations that are close to you. Learning followership (yes, this is a word) leads into learning how to lead. This will make you a better leader. Those who go straight into leading without knowing how to follow first usually end up mistreating the people they lead because they never where in a follower position. In every organization, one doesn't start at the top. You start at the bottom and work your way up. Same goes with leadership.

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Amy’s Answer

Leadership is more than just having a leadership title. Leadership is the ability to gain others' trust and guide help them along the way. Don't get so caught up in having a leadership title but think more of it as how you have been a leader to others, helped mentor, guide, and develop other people.

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Patrick’s Answer

As many of the commenters have already suggested, you do not need to hold a leadership title to exhibit leadership qualities and be a true leader of the team you're on. Simply put, "Be the leader, do the job of a leader without first having the title and good things will come."

Here are a few additional pointers:

- Drive solutions for your team and organization
- Own your work and be accountable (this includes being vulnerable and admitting when you're wrong)
- Empower your team members to do more than they think they can

Good luck with your senior year!

Patrick

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Mike’s Answer

I agree with all of the answers already provided on this question, but would also add the following bits of advice. Did you ever have a teacher, boss or coach that you felt was an outstanding leader? If so, think about what made that person/those people stand out to you? Being a good leader is recognizing how different people/operate and tapping into the qualities that make them successful and challenging them. Patience, Listening, Discipline and Empathy are all valued qualities. It's kind of cliché, but leading by example is the best way to become a leader. Do the little things - be on time, don't cut corners, volunteer for tasks/projects that other people don't want, offer ideas...these things seem simple, but you'd be surprised with how rare a package deal with these qualities are in the workforce. While it takes time, people that are dependable and demonstrate the above traits will definitely get noticed and put themselves in good positions of advancement. Good luck with your search and please let me know if I can be of any more help!

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Katie’s Answer

You do not always need to hold a position in leadership in order to grow leadership skills or prove that you are a leader. You can start to act as a leader on your team in ways that your manager is not able to. Find out how to be an unofficial mentor to new hires!

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Michael’s Answer

As you've already heard from other comments, you don't need to hold a leadership position to gain leadership experience. In fact, it may be just as beneficial, if not more so, to not hold that type of title when striving to become a better leader because that means you may have to work harder to gain the respect and trust of those you're aiming to lead. A leadership trait that is extremely valuable is accountability. If you always hold yourself accountable and don't ask others to do something you aren't willing to do, then it's going to make others want to work hard and follow your example. Additionally, taking chances and brainstorming creative ideas will also make you stand out and make others excited to be a part of whatever you are building towards. Good luck!

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Elizabeth’s Answer

As others have mentioned, you do not need to be a leader to have leadership experience / skills. I highly recommend picking up Stephen Covey's 7 Habits or The Leadership Challenge by Kouzen and P. They bring up skills, concepts and practices in everyday life that can contribute to leadership skills. If you are a senior in college here is my advice: get an internship role and seek a project out that you can "manage", get involved on campus and lead a group product, in a extra program you could lead a team, volunteer and showcase leadership skills by reaching out to the programs to see how you can get involved... There is so much! I am back in school for my graduate program and we are talking about leadership within group / teamwork in class. So much can relate to leadership skills! Good luck!

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Doreen’s Answer

Hi Belinda,

Do you belong to any clubs at school? Take on a project or event within the club to show off and strengthen your leadership chops.

Do any of your classes include group assignments? Show your initiative by taking the lead on your next assignment. Help each group member use their best strengths to create a winning final presentation!

Younger siblings at home? Help them develop a new skill or work on a family project together.

Leadership opportunities are all around you!

Best of luck in your senior year!
~Doreen

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Ahmad’s Answer

Leadership can be applied at different levels and not necessarily to be related to organizational Hierarchy. You can develop your leadership by working on your leadership skills which you will find them evolve overtime throughout your career. There are numerous skills that contribute to make you an effective leader I will cite some from Dr. Harrison (2018) book on modern leadership:
- Technical and business skills
- Interpersonal skills (such as emotional intelligence, communication, motivating, self-management and people management)
- conceptual skills (such as analysis, idea generation, problem solving, envisioning, strategic planning and decision making)
Most of the foregoing does not require from you to hold on a leader role. Needless to mention that early years experience is considered as an important factor in leadership development (this has been an area of research for many researchers in leadership development for instance Gill (2011) and Bennis and Thomas (2002) )

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Colleen’s Answer

Absolutely! Leadership is about taking ownership of your role, being committed to ongoing improvement and being a role model in your actions and attitudes. The ability to create a sense of urgency without instilling panic is key and always being open to listening and learning.

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Jen’s Answer

This is a great question. The best advice I have to give include the following:
- volunteer to lead a project; even if you don't have direct reports, you'll be leading an outcome
- join a task force team and take a leadership role
- present an idea to your boss in your next 1x1 meeting
- get leadership experience outside of work, in your community with volunteer service

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Amit’s Answer

The best leadership experience you will have is the one where you DO NOT have a leadership role. Why? Because, it's easier to get people to do something when you are their manager or designated leader. But that's your role or title, not you. So you don't need leadership role experiecne, what you need is to play the leadership role wherever you get a chance. Be it your community, your student body, your friends circle, even. Leadership is an attitude, not a role. Be the person people would want to follow. Develop the core values -- trust, ability to inspire through your action, ability to translate abstract vision to concrete plan, empathy, taking responsibility of failure, transparency, authenticity ...

The easiest way to get leadership experience is to raise your hand, take up additional responsibilities and follow up on your commitments.

But most importantly, leadership is about help other people to succeed. It's an indirect role, not a direct one, when it comes to results. So invest the success of people around you. Listen to them. Encourage them. Cheer for their successes. Remove obstacles from their paths. There are always small leadership opprotunities if you look at leadership this way. I know this probably not what you had in mind when you thought of leadership, but believe me, this is what will make you a leader in people's eye, and the roles will eventually line up.

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Tiffany’s Answer

Hi Belinda! Great question! Leadership is not about the title, it’s about how you provide support, motivate, gain trust and guide others. I would encourage you to look for opportunities within your day to day activities to stand out and be a leader without the official title. Some examples may be:

Tiffany recommends the following next steps:

Take the lead on a group project where you can influence and motivate others
Look for volunteer activities within your community
Partner with your manager to lead a project or meeting at work

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Nnenna’s Answer

I agree with the answers I have read, I would say also you should try to take on some extra roles, it really is not about leading a bunch of people, the influence answer was spot on.

You could start a study group, identify a cause and start a small movement and this could be as little as raising money for a not so privileged classmate, or organizing a phone group to send text messages or call families who have been affected by the COVID 19 pandemic,

You could also identify a problem in your college and fix it. Or take on a volunteer role. The important thing is to create something, a situation in which you can use your skills. You could also decide to mentor a junior, or even set up a group of your mates to form a mentorship circle for the freshers.

These are just a few practical ways you should be able to build your leadership experiences apart from also taking online courses, its a great move on your part and will definitely help you when you go out into the world of work!!

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