Leadership isn’t limited to the flashy title that follows your name on the company website or the letters on the signboard of your solo cubicle. But most importantly, leadership isn’t limited to a single designated person. It is a collective of inspiring individuals putting their heads together to make their mission a success.
Keeping to the norms of a traditional office setup, there are, of course, a few who are designated leaders. They are bestowed with the authority of running a company successfully and leading their employees to collateral wins. Additionally, there are other individuals who demonstrate the skill of connecting people across the organisation and come up with some stellar ideas that often bring in massive conquests for the company. Ordinarily, these persons occupy lower posts in the hierarchy than that of formal bosses. But more often than not, it is their valuation and judgement call that is taken into consideration among the team.
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These are the ‘informal leaders’ of the organisation, the unofficial taskmasters, whose strong, opinionated and integrated personalities are sought after by others to help endorse patterns and changes that can lead to ground-breaking outcomes for the company as a whole. Everyone wants a piece of them, figuratively speaking, from the bosses in the high chairs to the intern at the copydesk.
The big question is this: Since they don’t have the official designation of a ‘boss’, how do identify these leaders from among the massive crowd of employees at your disposal?
It’s pretty simple. An informal leader may not have a physical sign to attribute their leadership prowess, but they always manage to stand out from the crowd. The informal leader is self-selected. They are drawn to new initiatives and manage to indulge themselves efficiently in a project because they are immensely passionate about it. Hence, they are willing to pool in ideas, efforts and unpaid hours to run it to its highest potential. The informal leader is one who sets an idea into motion, who always has a unique approach to execute, who engages and motivates fellow teammates and colleagues and usually has the ‘unofficial’ last call to any concerned matter.
So once you manage to locate them, how do you keep them engaged to help in the proceedings of your organisation?
An informal leader isn’t a superhero. They won’t possess all the characteristics of the ‘true leader’ you keep reading about. Each of them has a characteristic talent that is conducive only to them, and it is this talent that you need to recognise and see how this person can be useful in a particular project.
As a boss, you are positioned higher than the rest, and so any feedback or advice you put across to your employees tends to be taken as an ‘order’ in most cases. This could lead to an arena of discontent and ego-clashes which can downgrade effective office mechanisms. However, since an informal leader holds no officially designated leadership post, their advice, critique and suggestive measures will be adhered to more warmly by employees, because it comes from someone who’s ‘one of them’. It is imperative to maximise on this kinship to introduce some much-needed changes and measures.
Informal leaders stand out from the crowd because they are highly opinionated. Although this works well in most cases since they often provide great insight, it creates room for a clash of opinions as well. So it would be wise to tread a bit carefully and give adequate weightage to what they propose. However, they know not to impose their measures on others and the final call will usually always be a collaborative yes by all persons involved in implementing them.
As informal leaders don’t have the designated tags tying them to their desks, they have the freedom to be as involved in a project as they wish to be. Since they do not have the responsibility of the execution on their heads – a measure that in most cases leads to frustration-caused stagnation – they act on their passion for the subject and also bring in others to the light. It is this advisable to make full use of their available time in this scenario and keep them ready and involved in all the proceedings to help achieve maximum success through the entire process.
Do you have such personalities in your organisation? Time to look up and take a look around!