Lead without a leadership title

You can develop leadership skills in any role

3 min read

May 2021

Three people sitting in modern office space looking at a laptop on a center

Are leadership skills the only thing missing from your resume? If you’re looking to advance your career, it’s a must have. I recruit for claims adjuster roles, and many applicants I speak with are planning their career path with the goal of obtaining a leadership position. Because Progressive supports career growth, you can begin developing those skills on day one in any role.

Chances are, you’re already demonstrating leadership skills in your current role. If not, there are plenty of ways to acquire them without taking on a management or supervisory role. Managing occurs when we have people work for us. Leading is when people work with us and follow us. It doesn’t take a fancy title to be a leader. Individual contributors can be leaders, and here’s how you can begin expanding on your leadership skills.

  • Set an example: You can’t effectively lead others if you can’t manage yourself. Your words and actions set the tone for how you want to be treated. If you want to take on more responsibility, prove yourself dependable. Always hold yourself to a high professional standard.
  • Share what you know: Leaders want to help others do and be their best. Share best practices with your team. Have you created job aids that have helped you be more efficient? Share those tips and tools with someone who needs help. Offer to mentor a new hire.
  • Be an effective communicator: Come to meetings prepared with observations and suggestions. Have proposed solutions ready when you plan to highlight a problem. And always choose your words carefully. Leaders convey confidence, often in how they convey a message or idea. For example, “I believe” is more confident than “I think.”
  • Listen to others' ideas: You may be bursting with ideas but take time to listen to others—especially those from backgrounds different than yours. A leader acknowledges that good things can come from many sources. You may be surprised by what you learn.
  • Network: Leadership is about relationships and connecting with people. Find ways in your job to expand your peer group, like joining an employee resource group. At Progressive, Employee Resource Groups offer a variety of career development activities or chances to lead projects. These projects can give you practical experience and help build your resume for that future official leadership position.
  • Be first on board: If a new process or procedure is rolling out, offer to be the subject matter expert and go-to person for your team. Keep your focus on solutions instead of problems when sharing insight with your peers. Being known as a problem solver or someone who makes things better with good ideas will place you in a position of leadership. Your peers will gravitate to you and your leadership when the project hits roadblocks.
  • Own your mistakes: We all make mistakes. How we deal with setbacks and obstacles helps show our willingness to learn and grow. Don’t throw blame. Ask for help if needed. Leaders learn and don’t crumble after criticism.

A leadership position is different than a position of leadership. Keep the above tips in mind and you’ll learn that anyone can be a leader. Once it’s time for that next interview, you’ll have on-the-job experience to share to show that you’re ready to take on a leadership position. Good luck!

Julie Everett is a Senior Recruiter with Progressive Insurance. With more than a decade of recruiting experience, she helps place talented candidates into the right job that they will love.

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