As we have seen previously, it’s possible to show leadership when you don’t have a manager role because it is not about the position you hold, but the influence you have on others. When done correctly, this is a fantastic opportunity to build your reputation within your department while driving performance to the top. However, at times it can create resentment from your peers who can feel like they are in your shadow, seeing you shine far away ahead of them (I’m being a bit dramatic with this image but you get my point). The way you show leadership is probably as important as your leadership skills themselves. You can’t be a leader if others don’t want to be influenced by you, so if your peers see you as a threat, your influence will be limited and your reputation impacted. So what’s the difference between people who are accepted by their peers as leaders and the ones who are resented for it? A simple one: being genuine. Do you want to lead the group for everyone (including yourself) to perform better, or do you want to lead the group for your own advancement? I let you figure out which is which. So how do you show people how genuine your leadership is so they want to follow you? Here are 10 tips.

Be great at your job

This is the golden rule. Don’t even read the rest of this article if you choose not to do your job brilliantly. Before thinking about influencing others, you have to be a role model in your current job to be taken seriously. If you are meeting expectations and sometimes going above and beyond, it’s not enough. If you are not an overachiever and you put yourself out there, some of your peers (oh there will be a few) will find any flaw they can to challenge you. Avoid errors, go the extra mile, keep yourself updated on products and processes, be kind, practice what you preach, etc. Leadership starts within yourself. Be a superstar.

Help your peers perform better

Once people start seeing how good and approachable you are, start sharing your knowledge profusely when you are asked. You don’t have to know everything, but at least tell people who they should go to to find the answer they need. Go into details, search internal resources, don’t let go until you have the answer. People will admire your energy to help them. Propose your support too when you see a colleague struggling with some tasks, but make sure you do it discreetly and not in front of the whole team and the Manager. It’s not about showing others how great of a support you are, it’s about showing the ones who need it that you are there for them.

Include your peers in the projects you start

In many companies, one of the aspects of doing a great job is being proactive and collaborative. If you can, start projects that are not part of your daily tasks, and include people in them. Too many people think they will lose ownership if they share a project with others. It’s quite the opposite: by initiating a project and involving other people, you will naturally become the coordinator of this project since you were the one starting it, you will also expand the scope and impact of your project and you will share your success and learning with others. Win, win and win.

Talk less, ask more, listen actively

Do not always talk in meeting, even if what you say is more interesting (I don’t doubt that). Give space to your peers to share their thoughts and ideas. Ask questions and show you are interested in their opinion.

Do not take credit, ever

Use “we” instead of “I”. Delete “I” from your vocabulary, please. Thank you.

Show your vulnerability

Don’t be afraid of saying “I don’t know” or “I am not okay”. Once you’ve established trust between you and your peers, open up to them about what makes you vulnerable. I am not saying to go cry on their shoulders because a client upset you. But when things are not as good as usual, they will want to give back the support you gave them. They will relate to you a lot more because you will show your doubts and weaknesses too, not just the best version of yourself. You will need this connection to establish your leadership.

Do not try to impress managers

Don’t ever change your behaviour when management is around. Your peers will be the first to notice and you will not be able to make them forget that you are – pardon my French – licking arses. Be genuine and act in front of managers the same way you are when they are not there. I repeat: do not be a suck-up.

Do not impose yourself

Leadership is (also) about helping others feel empowered, so if you always do everything for your peers they will never learn themselves. Guide them, assist them, but don’t always do the things for them (it links back to #4). Do not take over tasks they should do themselves “because it’s faster if I do it myself”. Let people do the things in their own style and at their own pace. If something is urgent, decide a deadline together and they will hold themselves accountable.

Stay informal

Remember that you are talking to people who are at the same level as you and that being too formal could come across as out of place. Avoid following up in an email unless previously discussed and agreed with your peers. Documenting conversations in writing, with a formal style, will be not be well perceived because it’s what their Manager would do. Adjust your communication style to the group you are collaborating with.

Repeat

Influence doesn’t happen overnight, and you will have to repeat all of the points above every day, relentlessly, even if you are tired or in a bad mood. Keep the big picture in mind and how your personal brand is being shaped when you genuinely help others.