There are many situations in which you may not recognize that a leadership position is being placed into your path. Situations often arise where there is a distinct need for a leader to drive a process or idea, yet there is no formal announcement or mechanism that recognizes a single leader. When this occurs, are you driven to take a leadership position or do you hope that someone else will take control?
Regardless of your specific business function, there will be times when you need to recognize that you have the knowledge to drive a process and that you should take command. You may be recognized by your peers for your knowledge and abilities, and this is the time to demonstrate your leadership skills. Since you have not been formally designated as the leader, show your knowledge by sharing it with your colleagues and making yourself available to them when they have a question. You may also need to push and guide some of your colleagues who may not know the direction they should be pursuing. In order to do this, you must demonstrate your understanding of the task and convey what is required for everyone to complete his or her part.
Start by explaining how you view the current task, what steps you have taken to identify what needs to be done, the timeline you have established, and whether you have engaged outside help. Depending on the task, you may be able to share some of the workload with another colleague. By building a sense of cooperation in this way, you can show your leadership ability to complete tasks and involve resources that were not previously used. It is important in this situation to show by your work ethic and organization that you have the vision for the task and you are willing to lead your colleagues.
You may also encounter a situation in which you need to collaborate with a competitor for your mutual benefit. It may be that you need your competitor in order to be successful and must therefore engage in a situation where you are the minor partner. This can be an opportunity to show leadership by demonstrating that you know how to use “unusual resources” which others may have overlooked. When you do work with a competitor, certain business rules and ethics must be observed. Items related to cost cannot be shared, nor can items of unique value to your organization. Always remember that anything which could appear to be “price fixing” or collusion should be avoided.
Always keep this one final thought with you: Leadership is a position that must be earned, but it can be also be lost very quickly. When you recognize that you have earned a position of leadership, do not abuse it. The respect you show to your colleagues will enhance your position as a leader.