Sometimes in our organisations we aren’t allowed to accept leadership responsibilities to the degree that we think we are leaders.If that’s the case, and you’re tired of doing things other people say, or paper pushing, you might have to explore leadership opportunities outside of your organisation.
Leadership is not about titles or words, but about action! There are plenty of leadership opportunities outside of your organisation and within your organisation that aren’t directly connected to your role that will allow you to display your ability to lead to your current employer and future employers.
1. Affinity Groups
For instance, within your current organisation, you may take on or create a leadership role with an affinity group. Let’s say you are passionate about biking. You can demonstrate your leadership to your colleagues and company by starting a biking club. The group could get together on Saturdays for a long morning ride or after work 2 nights per week.
You can get approval from your organisation, and then show them over time, through pictures how you are actually growing this movement and creating a better work environment for the employees at your organisation in a fun way. It could be as Chess group, women’s affinity group or a culture-based group. It doesn’t matter—as long as there are enough people to join. What matters is you can show your leadership outside of your direct position.
2. High-Level Volunteering:
The other thing to consider is taking the skills you are developing in your organisation or your passions and joining some kind of non-profit board. This organisation could be involved in a variety of causes such as urban education, low–income housing, or art. Non-profit organisations are legally required to have a board of directors in order to exist and this gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you know how to create impact,and that you have positions of leadership outside your organisation.
You can also explore websites like www.Catchafire.org which offer skill-based volunteering opportunities that allow professional to “give what they are good at.” The relationship is reciprocal—your paid work helps your free projects and your free work helps you as a professional. These kinds of opportunities will boost your confidence and character as a leader.
3. Side Business
Having a side business is another great way to show that you are fully aware of how to create value. You can also use your existing skill set that you are developing with your current employer and actually do consulting for smaller clients that they don’t serve.
For instance, I have a friend named Akshay Shrimanker that works in accounting for a major media company but also does taxes for individuals—mine included—on the side after work. Or the business you want to start may have nothing to do with your current profession. Maybe you’re in accounting, but you have a passion for music and you decide to develop 3 artists in your spare time.
There are all kinds of ways to demonstrate your leadership outside of your organisation and oftentimes they are risk-free spaces for you to test your leadership skills. Once you’ve established yourself, you can start to drop hints here and there within your organisation by saying things like “Yea, I’m speaking at my kid’s school board meeting tonight” or “Yes, I’ve been serving as President for the past 2 years.”
Those kinds of things land and sit with people within your organisation and a seed is planted that you are a leader even if your employer hasn’t full recognised you yet with a leadership role of significance. Ultimately this work is helping shape you to be the leader that you truly want to be, when the opportunity is offered within your organisation.
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