How to be a Leader Without the “Title”

Often times, we as women struggle to effectively display our leadership and power in our respective careers.

As we all know, leadership isn’t always about a title. Leadership can be displayed through persuasion, influence, and likability. For the past five years or so, this has been an ongoing battle in my world. I worked three times hard than my counterparts but my work was discounted because of my age, gender, and race. So cliché on their part but little did they know I was about to flip the script.

To stay on a path of upward mobility, I decided to promote myself into a leadership role & began acting accordingly.

After I made that mental shift, things seemed to fall in line and eventually my title and salary aligned with my behaviors. It was sort of driving in the “fake it to you make it” lane. However, in reality, I visualized what I wanted and moved towards that goal accordingly. The poise paired with intellect and congeniality helped me progress in an otherwise limited space. 

Here are four ways to be a leader in absence of the title.  

Dress the part.

I’m 99% sure that everyone’s mother has taught them to “dress for the job you want.” That little mantra has always resonated with me and for that reason I never allowed myself to dress down in the workplace...even on Fridays. Plus if you see me in jeans or yoga pants please be advised that no work is being done. This little tactic has worked in my favor because the term “business casual” is lost on people and a result their attire reflects their level of professionalism. Believe it or not, wearing a suit or simply looking put together will make people naturally gravitate to you because you look like you are in charge.

Introduce yourself.

Whenever there is a work meeting women are consequentially relegated to getting the coffee and food for the meeting; even if the woman is set to lead the meeting. Coffee duty is a career party foul for women with serious goals because it puts you in a domestic role and it doesn’t allow for time to network. Instead, exert leadership by introducing yourself to every person that enters the room. Greet strangers early on to build relationships and make small talk with previous acquaintances to show that you value them as a person; not just as an employee. This networking and relationship building will have others view you as the leader (even if you’re not) and will only increase your likability rating. 

Sit next to the most powerful person in the room.

No matter the situation, luncheon, board meeting or traveling for work with coworkers always sit next to the most powerful person in the room. This is important for several reasons: you’ll be seen in the same echelon as the most powerful person, you will have the ear of the most powerful person in the room and it will create visibility for you because you will now be on the most powerful person's radar.   Either way—it’s a major win.

Always provide ideas that are thought-provoking. 

My last tidbit on how to exude leadership is to always provide thought-provoking ideas. Nothing is more annoying than hearing people regurgitate and replicate previously spewed thoughts. It’s a waste of time. Instead, always provide ideas that can change the world and most importantly never speak last. The final ideas are often simply disregarded as mindless banter; especially if your remarks are the right before the food is served.

-Ar'Sheill Monsanto