When you hear the word ‘leader,’ there’s probably a couple of people that come to your mind. It could be in the workplace, at school, in your community, and so many more.

In the latest edition of the YouthSpeak Survey, we surveyed over 57,000 young people from 157 countries and territories. One of the questions we asked was to name a person they consider a great leader. Below is a picture of the most common answers⬇️

The bulk of the people in an organization, company, school, or any group, do not have leadership titles or positions. Non-positional leadership tells you that you can be a leader from anywhere in the hierarchy. It tells you that you don’t have to be at the top, for your voice to be valid.


Non-positional leadership entails taking responsibility for the way things can go. You present yourself as an accountable person, and influence decisions where you find yourself. For example; a person in the group who may not be the leader, but takes initiative, a person who is ready to volunteer first, a person who takes action, instead of waiting for those with leadership roles. These are a few traits of a non-positional leader.  

 
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt


Being a non-positional leader, you’ll face multiple challenges. Being able to properly deal with challenges goes a long way in making you a better leader.

As a non-positional leader, here are some things expected from you:

1. Share your knowledge

When you teach people what you know, you build trust and love. Don’t hoard information, pass it. When you do this, you’re empowering others, and society can only be a better place.

2. Be authentic

To be authentic, you have to be self-aware. Instead of trying to pass off as someone you’re not, try to unlock the best version of yourself, by understanding your personal values, and focusing on your strengths over your weaknesses.

3. Be ready to learn

To learn, you have to be intellectually humble. Do not be afraid to change your perspective when presented with contradictory evidence, no person is an island of knowledge. Try to understand and be open to learning from the people above you, below you, and on your level. Make an effort to understand people’s views. Practice active listening. Being an active listener in a workplace setting has a lot of benefits; you become a reliable and trustworthy person to other people. Open yourself to know more. Educate yourself on world issues, and understand that you have a role to play, to make the world a better place. In doing this, you’re a world citizen.  Lookout for better ways to do things, take responsibility and implement them. Be innovative.

4. Be a cheerleader for people around you

You don’t always have to wear your professional socks, sometimes what people need is a true friend. Appreciate and build up their confidence instead of tearing them down. Always acknowledge people when they are doing a good job, as they all have individual responsibilities and goals.

“The glory of friendship is not in the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is in the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.”

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. Reward yourself

As a young girl, my parents gave me chocolates for every task I completed properly. Doing well in school? My favorite chocolate is coming. Cleaning the house properly? I’m getting more chocolate! Because our brains are programmed to feel accomplished when we are rewarded, this kept me motivated to do more, and strive for excellence. In the case of non-positional leadership, you’re responsible for yourself,  so you have to be your cheerleader. Be conscious of your intentions and reward yourself for every personal goal, set, and achieved. Small things like this keep you motivated for further success.

On the other hand, some things may jeopardize your intentions and hinder you in your path to being a leader. Some of them include; gossiping, playing office politics, and being part of or instigating unhealthy competitions.

Among other things, being solution oriented is a very essential skill needed for non-positional leadership, and at AIESEC, we develop this skill through our Leadership Development Model (LDM).

AIESEC Leadership Development Model

Non-positional leadership can be very challenging. So, you’ll often find yourself in challenging roles and environments, but it’s worth it in the long run. You become an all-round better person, you improve the lives of other people, you can influence so many people without even being at the top, and of course, the organization or institution becomes a better one. You’re also ready to take on more leadership positions as you’ve proven to your superior, mates, and juniors. AIESEC is a great place to start your non-positional leadership journey through team activities and exchange experiences.

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