How To Be A Leader (Even When You’re Not The Boss)

Studies show that if you go to work and feel you have little or no control, you are more likely to experience stress, and are therefore more likely to have a heart attack or experience other illnesses driven or worsened by stress and anxiety. Now, not all of us can be the team-leader, and not all of us can work in democratic cooperatives. So, how can we take some control and be leaders, even when we aren’t the boss?

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Filling in the White Space

art-artistic-blue-159825Take a look at the management tree of your workplace. You should see a lot of names and positions with lines connecting them, but what goes between them? That’s the white space. It’s full of possibilities and opportunities for you to step up and make a positive difference. Finding these places between departments, where there is work to be done, can provide a great opportunity for you to show initiative, form a plan to better your workplace, and add a potentially valuable contribution to the company.

In our own company, individuals have found these white spaces in the org-chart to create innovative new products between training and production, sales and marketing, and marketing and creative services. So, if you are looking for an opportunity to step up, take a look at that org-chart, and think about where you can fill something in.

Get to Know People Beyond Your Team

Young partners discussing in meeting at creative officeThis goes in hand with the previous section, but is integral to breaking down the silos within an organization that can seriously hinder productivity, creativity, and workplace fulfillment. Take the time to walk around, go to other parts of the building, and get to know other people in the company. 

Leadership, in its many forms, is universally inept when the leader doesn’t have any people with them. Think of it as networking, gathering opinions or ideas on a project, or maybe just an opportunity to make new friends. By practicing communication skills, you can make yourself into someone that people from across your company can talk to and feel comfortable with, therefore demonstrating your leadership abilities.

Maintaining Positivity

adult-art-conceptual-278312I think we all know that person who just sucks the energy out of the room with their negativity. It can come in many forms: sarcasm, defeatism, or just old-fashioned pessimism. But these people will never be leaders because leadership requires passion, vision, and the self-assurance to see things through. Those three traits add up to positivity.

adult-chill-computer-450271Being an earnest and positive force at work can turn your project around and make you stand out. Quite frankly, people like being around positive and encouraging people. Again, leaders by definition need people to lead, and if you aren’t the boss, this will mean taking a more old-fashioned route to leadership, and positioning yourself as someone people will look up to. 

Offer Help

Think not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. Being a leader isn’t about having people do things for you—in fact, it’s the opposite. If you are someone who is constantly asking others to help you, you will be viewed as needy and inept. Instead, do more for others, and make yourself as useful to your colleagues as possible.

The point of offering help to others should be two-fold: to make yourself indispensible and to be a person of reference. By helping others and making yourself indispensible, you will always be on the shortlist to be involved in some new project. By being a point of reference, you create a reputation as the go-to person.

collaboration-colleagues-cooperation-398532Leadership in life often has less to do with your title or salary. Instead, it has to do with you: how you act, what you do, and how you make people feel. A good leader steps up, supports their team, communicates with those outside their team, and stays connected to their surroundings. So if you are someone who wants to take a more active role in your work, and take decisions by the reins, these leadership tips may serve you very well indeed.


CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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William Warren

About William Warren

William Warren works at CATMEDIA as the Staff Writer while also working as a theatre artist, playwright, and director in Atlanta, GA. He received his undergraduate from Georgia College & State University with a BA in Theatre.

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Leadership, Communication

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