If somebody joins where you work, with less experience of that workplace, then you can be a leader. It doesn’t matter what post you hold, part-time, volunteer, manager or executive.

A new joiner will look to you to lead whenever your activity crosses over with their own. They will also look to you to lead when you are seen to be popular, respected by others, or simply welcoming. When this happens it is a great opportunity for you to grow within the organisation and as a person. Do not squander it. How you respond will be noticed by all your colleagues.

Even if you are new to an organisation, realise that how you behave will affect how others see you and whether they regard you as a potential leader.

If you are in a position which you regard as a leadership position then you must step up and begin by looking at your own behaviour. Leadership is essentially about trust. If you dominate by authority, tell people to just get on with it or find the door, you are not a leader. Of course there are times when you need to be tough, yet you need to understand how that impacts on people and what the outcome will be for the organisation as a whole. If you are being tough on someone who has consistently been a drag on morale through poor performance you will probably improve overall performance, yet if you are tough to impose a rule out of context you may seriously damage morale and your own standing. Simply enforcing rules by authority is not leadership.

So how to lead?

  • Firstly change your own behaviour. Become more aware of your shortcomings, choose positive strategies for overcoming them. Be warm.
  • Secondly be disciplined and consistent in your behaviour. Be reliable.
  • Third, be motivated by achievement for its own sake. Not salary or bonuses but simply doing a good job. Be the best you can be.
  • Fourth, understand the impact of what you do and say on the people around you and consequently their behaviour. Be empathetic.
  • Fifth and finally, build understanding with your colleagues, at all levels, so that you can persuade them to make the changes necessary to improve the organisation. Be open.

The toughest part is looking in the mirror and deciding how you have to change, then acting on that change. It is particularly hard for someone who has been in a tough management role enforcing a rigid process to then relax and trust colleagues to perform without tight supervision. However the rewards can be enormous.

The culture and performance of any organisation is a direct result of the worst behaviour you allow to occur on your watch. Make sure that worst behaviour is not yours!