How to Lead When You Never Aspired to Be a Leader


Many people find themselves in leadership roles unexpectedly. Maybe you started out as an individual contributor and gradually assumed more responsibility. Or perhaps you were asked to step into a leadership role to fill a sudden gap.

Regardless of the circumstances, leading when you never aspired to be a leader can be challenging. In this blog post, we will provide some tips on how to lead effectively when you never planned on being a leader.

1) Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

To lead effectively, it’s important to know your own strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to determine where you can add value and where you may need to ask for help.

Take the time to reflect on what you do well and what you struggle with. Tap your friends, family, and colleagues and ask them what they consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses. Leverage personality assessments such as the Enneagram or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to gain insight into your natural leadership style.

2) Build Relationships

Take the time to get to know your team members and build rapport with them. Make sure you have regular one-on-one meetings on your calendar with each of your direct reports. This will help to establish trust and create a positive work environment. Additionally, seek out mentors and peers who can provide guidance and support as you navigate your new leadership role.

3) Communicate Clearly and Effectively

Communication is key when it comes to leadership. Be clear and concise in your messaging, and listen actively to what others have to say. Regularly check in with your team members to ensure they have the resources and support they need to be successful. Additionally, be transparent about your goals and expectations, and provide regular feedback to help your team members grow and develop.

4) Set Realistic Goals

As a leader, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself and your team. Break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, and establish clear timelines and metrics for success. Celebrate progress along the way, and be willing to adjust course if necessary.

5) Lead by Example

Remember, leadership is a lot like parenting – how you show up matters more than always saying the right thing. Think about some of the leaders you have worked with in the past. Which ones did you enjoy working for, and what made them so effective? What leadership practices do you not agree with?

Be the kind of leader you would want to work for. Demonstrate a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a commitment to your team’s success. When your team sees you leading by example, they will be more likely to follow suit.

Leading when you never aspired to be a leader can be a daunting task, but with the right mindset and approach, it can also be incredibly rewarding. By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, building relationships, communicating clearly, setting realistic goals, and leading by example, you can become an effective and respected leader, even if it wasn’t part of your original career plan.

LaToya Jordan, Leadership Coach

Looking for personalized guidance to help you navigate your leadership role? Check out our customized Leadership Coaching programs here!

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