How to be Seen as a Great Leader (Even When You're Not in a Leadership Role)

Angie - Test Knowles, | February-13-13



Guest Post: by Kelly Allen, HR Services, ECO Canada

The words “leader” and “leadership” get thrown around a lot, but what do they really mean when it comes to environmental careers? Is there one special characteristic “good leaders” have that most people don’t? 
At its most basic, being a leader simply means that you have the ability to inspire and motivate others.  Adopting and exhibiting leadership qualities, even if you’re not in a leadership role, can help you excel in your environmental career.  In fact, the chances are quite high that at some point in your work, you’ll need to rely on well-developed leadership skills. According to ECO Canada’s 2010 Profile of Canadian Environmental Professionals, about 40% of environmental practitioners managed people, budgets or projects as part of their job. 
Just by observing and emulating the characteristics that are common amongst successful leaders – like Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, or Steve Jobs – you can influence others and improve their perceptions of you. As well, acting like a leader in the role that you already have will show your employer that you have the necessary skills to fulfill a future leadership role with greater responsibility and authority.
To reach that next level of success, you must act like a leader.
Dianna Booher, author of Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think and Act like a Leader suggests that aspiring leaders should adhere to six key habits, attitudes, skills and characteristics in order to ”act” the part: 

1. Live with integrity   

Actions based on honesty and sincerity create trust and credibility.  Effective leaders are  seen as trustworthy and credible in all areas of their life, not just their jobs.

2. Listen like you mean it

In silence, you can learn a lot.  Take the time to really listen to what others are saying, and to listen to your own thoughts.  Listening increases likeability, and likeability fosters trust in you as a leader. 

3. Commit to what you communicate

 Follow through. Deliver what you promise.  Hold yourself accountable. Be consistent.  Practice what you preach. 

4. Engage emotionally by being approachable 

Effective leaders are known for the attention they give, not receive.  People enjoy being around others who are humble, willing to serve and who give others the time of day. 

5. Never whine

Whining communicates that you lack the competence, skills or commitment, all of which are traits an effective leader would not possess. 

6. Follow protocol in mixing business with pleasure

Make an effort to bring people together and build those relationships in both business and social settings. However be aware of etiquette and the appropriateness of the situation.  
For Booher’s full article, read Want to be a leader? Act Like One (originally published on

What leadership qualities would you add to the list? What attributes make you see others as true leaders?