How Do You Lead When You’re Not in Charge?

I just read one of my new favorite books – for business, and for life. The book is called How Do You Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Clay Scroggins. I have to say, he had me at the title, but the book was just as good.


Have you ever heard someone say, “If I was in control I would do it this way”? Well I hate to break the bad news to you, but unless you are a dictator or a supreme overlord you will never have total control. The good news is that leadership is not about control, and it’s not about having authority.


So, what is it about?


Clay Scroggins says, “Leadership is not authority, leadership is influence." What does he mean by this? It means that you don’t have to have the authority or the job title to lead people. Real leadership is doing the right thing, showing people the right way. In short, it means having influence.


He goes on to give an example. You are working on a project and the material presented is wrong. At that moment you have one of two choices. One, you can blame the leader or boss and criticize the work and take no accountability. Or, two, you can help fix the problem and be part of the solution. When you are part of the solution and you help solve the problem, that is leadership.


If you think about the best leader you ever had, my guess is you would have followed them even without the title. I would bet that they led by example, and they were inclusive. Conversely, if you think about the worst leader you ever had I’m sure it was because they used their title as a reason to control.


Next time you are presented with an opportunity to help a team or fix a problem, decide to be part of the solution and not sit back and blame the owner. You will be well on your way to becoming a leader even if you are not in control.


Until next time…I’m Marty, make every minute count.


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