It is a common misconception that if a person is higher in rank than the others, he is already considered the leader of the pact. Even managers have this kind of mindset.
Well, fact is, they will not be somehow on that spot if they had not shown leadership streaks, will they? After all, famous author and speaker, John Maxwell has defined leadership as having the competence to exude influence on others, thus gaining the chance to outstand over their peers. Perhaps influence means having to step up the ladder with the help of back up?
However, in his review, Prof. Mel Holcom of Arizona State University clearly states that “the first thing to realize is that taking advantage of a leadership opportunity does not necessarily mean moving up the career ladder.”
How then do we define leadership? And who are those worthy of being called a leader if it is not based on rank or position?
The Peterson Group, a leadership development and organizational consulting firm, states that you do not necessarily have to be an official to be a leader. Leadership goes more than a position or authority. The key is demonstrating relationship skills and, as Maxwell has emphasized, influence.
Setting up a good relationship among your colleagues is an important factor in being a leader, even if you are in the same level with them in a team. It is a big deal among human beings to know there is a person who understands them or someone they can go to when they need it. People can also instinctively know if you are being a fraud through your actions or being true in your intentions. The real emphasis on the C’s (charisma, character, commitment, courage and communication) amounts to the level of relationship you have built with other people, not with how many people are under you.
Influence, on the other hand, is a crucial element in leadership. Leadership can never exist without influence. Influence is not on how many influential people can back you up and get you on top of the pyramid; it is on how many people are willing to give you the position because they know you deserve it.
On a healthy debate held for leadership development among students in Jakarta, Indonesia, reasons for being a leader without holding a position was brought to light. Among the most essential characteristics aside from the aforementioned are initiative, discernment, generosity and focus, characteristics which does not necessarily require rank or position.