Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Guest Post: How non-leaders can lead

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By Peter Davey

John C Maxwell defined leadership when he said, “The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”Maxwell has correctly identified that leadership is not just about traits, position, personality and experience; it’s more about having an ability to influence people by maintaining integrity and trustworthiness.

If you want to further understand John Maxwell’s viewpoint on this, you’ll probably need to look at what types of behavior are most commonly associated with effective leadership. As you attempt to answer that question, you suddenly realize that the behavioral skills that even the most effective leaders possess are very common in non-leaders as well. For non-leaders, these are behaviors that will help to build or enhance their personal leadership skills and will ultimately assist in helping to produce clear, tangible results for the business.

So what are the behaviors that can potentially turn a non-leader into an effective leader?

Displaying a positive mental attitude. A positive mental attitude creates a mindset of abundance, enthusiasm, and solutions. Instead of thinking about what can’t be done, a positive thinker will not be constrained by ‘can’ and ‘cannot.’ A positive thinker is free to think of new ways to solve problems because they are not limited by fear of failure. Attitudes are contagious.

Encourage others. Encouragement is the skill of an effective leader. Show your belief in others. Look for opportunities to give them positive/constructive feedback. By encouraging others, you are not only helping to improve your relationship with them, but you may also be helping them to achieve something great.

Listen more, talk less. The simple key to working well with others is to listen more and talk less. When we listen, we can learn about the other person’s motivations. When we understand those, we are in a better position to guide and influence them. A useful way to remember the proportion of listening to speaking is to remember that you have two ears and one mouth. Quite simply, you should listen twice as much as you speak.

Engage with others. Engaging with others is not just about engaging with those who share your values and beliefs (the like-minded), but also about engaging with those who think differently from you and are doing something that may seem completely different and unrelated. Do not be afraid to engage across diversity, for that is how you will learn.

Be a great follower. Since leadership is an activity and not a role, recognize that you won’t always be leading; you must be willing and able to follow others too.  Developing this as a conscious practice will help you build your relationships; more importantly, it will allow you to observe others as they lead. Being a good follower will involve keeping your manager informed, always supporting your manager behind their backs, embracing change, bringing solutions (not problems) to your manager, admitting your mistakes, being a team player and being the eternal optimist.

Embrace a learning culture. Being effective requires us to continually learn and develop ourselves.  In doing this, we can become a positive role model for others, helping them see the importance of learning as well.

Continually develop your communication skills. Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. By understanding your personal style of communicating, you will go a long way towards creating a good and lasting impression with others.

Irrespective of your own status, when you consistently display the right behavioral skills, you are building and maintaining integrity and trustworthiness. You are in effect, building a strong capability to influence others by having people listen to your ideas, valuing or following your suggestions for action, and turning to you for guidance or advice.

Peter Davey is a Senior Trainer for a UK-based management training provider and consultancy. t2 Management Training offer leadership and management training to all types of managers – from team leaders to Directors and CEOs – and work with some of the biggest companies in the country.


The Product Management Perspective: Many of the behaviors described here are key to successful product management. Product managers need to keep a positive attitude and encourage their teams to work hard and work effectively. They need to listen to the market and learn what makes potential buyers want to buy their products. They need to communicate effectively, both inside and outside the company. Perhaps most important, product managers need to be learners.

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One thought on “Guest Post: How non-leaders can lead

  1. Pingback: 7 Leadership Qualities for “Non Leaders” | My Livity - A Determined Life

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