You’re the boss, but you’ve noticed that your employees often go to Sarah in IT or Sam in accounting with their questions instead of to you. Why? Because Sarah and Sam are trusted, knowledgeable, respected, and they get things done despite their lack of official authority. They are the “shadow leaders” of your team.
Don’t feel threatened by the influence these “shadow leaders” possess. They can be an invaluable source of support and assistance. Here are some traits to look for:
- Team focus. Employees are more likely to respect co-workers who aren’t just out for their own personal glory. A genuine commitment to the organization’s goals shows maturity, a characteristic that earns respect.
- Brain power. They’re not just smart; they know how to use their intelligence and skills to get things done. They see connections between seemingly different areas and make important distinctions among apparently similar elements (products, markets, strategies, etc.). This makes them an important and recognized resource for ideas and solutions.
- Energy. Any kind of leadership requires a certain amount of physical and mental stamina. People who start the morning with a burst of productivity and who stay focused throughout the day get noticed. Co-workers know they’ll take the time to help them.
- Honesty. Truthfulness is key. The leaders you’re looking for tend to express their opinions openly without backing down from what they believe. That means their co-workers trust them. This makes them highly influential at whatever level they are.