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You don't need a title to be a leader

When we read articles about how to become a good leader, many of them repeat the same concept, leaders share some qualities - a leader is empathetic, is proactive, anticipates problems, is an example, has focus, translates the abstract objectives into facts, has decision-making capacity, is positive, is persistent - amongst many others.

During my professional career I have always had a clear ambition to move up in an organization and after gathering enough experience and knowledge, launch my own company. To do this, I was driven to always stand out in my job, give more than what is expected of me, leave the pride aside and sign up for any opportunity that would allow me to grow and achieve my career plan.

I remember that on one occasion I asked my boss for a middle management opportunity to lead the team which I had been a part of for a couple of years and she replied: “I'm sorry, you have all the qualities for such position and more, but currently there are no open vacancies neither in our area nor in the department”. After this refusal, she asked me, "But why do you want to be a boss? The salary isn’t much higher than the one you already have on your current role."

How could she possibly believe that the only reason to ask for a promotion was money, so I replied: "I want to be a boss because I want to be able to positively influence others, I want my ideas to be taken into account and I want to contribute to the department with my vision. I want more responsibility”.

My boss without showing any amazement gave me a response that surprised me at that time:

“Don't you do all of that already?

I see your teammates ask for your advice before they ask for mine, I see that the heads of other departments come to take you advice for new ideas to creatively solve their problems, I see how the department is more methodical after you convinced us to adopt the best industry practices, I hear users speak great things of your work when you are not present, I see that you take ownership of unattended problems and look for a solution. Isn't that what you want to achieve under a boss heading? I understand if you ask me for an increase on your salary or benefits, but the leadership role you are asking me for, you are already performing it even if it is not reflected on the signature of your email or the sign on your door.”

After hearing her answer, I understood that she was right.

Even without a job title, you can be a great leader.

If you act with integrity, add value to your work and the work of others, have a positive and proactive attitude, are innovative and creative in your work, cheer up your team and give value to your customers; you will be the leader you want to be.

After this conversation, I kept working with the same motivation and passion for my job and8 months later an opportunity was opened and I got the desired promotion. In my new role, with a team of 6, I had more responsibilities and a new email signature; I realized that my boss was right, the only real difference was the small adjustment in my salary.

Since then, I have stopped paying so much attention to my doorplate, if I see something that needs to be fixed I do it; If I see someone who needs a hand, I support them; And if I can be an example and improve the work environment for the people whom I share every day, I do it.

Because every day is a good day to put into practice the kind of leader I want to be.

With thanks - this article was written by Elena C. Mata S.

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