Titles Don’t Make Leaders—But These 7 Actions Do

UPDATED: May 27, 2021
PUBLISHED: April 21, 2016

What makes you a leader? Too many people think it’s about a title—fancy letters like CEO, COO and VP.

Related: 7 Personality Traits of a Great Leader

But the truth is that leadership has nothing to do with a title. It has everything to do with your attitude and your actions. Leadership is about how you interact with people and how you motivate them to work with you toward a goal together.

Whether you’re the administrative assistant, the tech genius or the new hire, here are a few practical ways you can show you’re a real leader, title or not:

1. Value every relationship.

Whether you’re talking to the janitor or junior partner, there’s a person behind every job title, and that person represents a family. You have the chance to influence a family by the way you interact with every team member.

2. Think about your team’s needs before your own.

Would you be willing to finish a report so a team member can go home? When it’s crunch time and the team is working late, do you buy takeout for everyone—out of your own pocket? Thinking about your team’s needs could be as simple as saying thank you or as serious as making a trip to the hospital after hours.

3. Help your team grow.

Provide training and opportunities for them to work at their full potential. Encourage and sponsor continuing education. Give a team member an increased level of responsibility. Don’t put up with mediocrity. Challenge them to up their game.

4. Share the credit.

You accomplished a goal, but you didn’t do it alone. Your team worked right alongside you (or they should!). Let leadership know who helped you. Make your team look good. Give them the spotlight and let them shine.

5. Shoulder the blame.

If you and your team fail to meet a goal or a project doesn’t go as well as planned, the blame stops with you. Have your team’s back and don’t throw them under the bus for the sake of your ego. If you need to give feedback to people about their performance, do so privately.

6. Never say “That’s not my job.”

That oozes arrogance and laziness. Chip in to help with what needs to be done, even if it’s not your responsibility. Clean out the coffee pot. Take that moldy dish out of the refrigerator and put it in the trash. Do what needs to be done. Period. Even when nobody’s watching.

7. Be a person of character.

Leadership is less about skills and more about living by your values. You don’t want to be known as that leader—the one who’s dishonest, sneaky, underhanded and unethical. And your team certainly doesn’t want to follow a leader they can’t trust. Respect takes a long time to earn and a second to lose.

I once heard someone say, “Your job gives you authority, but your actions earn you respect.” You can have a title on your door and never lead anybody. How you treat other tells the real story, so put these ideas into practice today.

Related: 10 Ways to Be a Leader—Even When You Aren’t in Charge


This post originally appeared on ChrisHogan360.com.

A popular and dynamic speaker on the topics of personal finance, retirement and leadership, Chris Hogan helps people across the country develop successful strategies to manage their money, both in their personal lives and businesses. His new book, Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age, It’s a Financial Number, released in January, is a #1 national best-seller. For more than a decade, Chris has served at Ramsey Solutions as a trusted financial coach and Ramsey Personality. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisHogan360 and online at ChrisHogan360.com.