Monday, August 31, 2015

3 Tips on Leading Alongside Peers

Leadership comes with difficulties, no matter the relationship of the leader to those they lead. Managers can exert some direct influence from a chain-of-command and disciplinary perspective, but ultimately that only holds so far. When trying to influence peers without a direct manager-subordinate relationship, though, the challenges may appear insurmountable. Still, people successfully lead alongside others every day. So how can you effectively lead others with whom you don't have a direct relationship?

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You cannot lead for yourself. Followers give leaders the power to influence. But the reason that they give that power ultimately stems from what they get out of it in return. Simply stated, people follow others because the leader offers them something they don't have and require to grow or move forward. So, when you are trying to lead others, you must remember initially to focus on solving their problems, rather than trying to be a great leader. Some call this concept the "servant leader." Regardless of what you call it, approach people in terms of what problems they have that you can solve, and you will eventually gain rapport with them, and perhaps influence.

Learn to Plan

Sometimes, people cannot get moving because they do not know where to start. The paralysis has killed many a project. In a situation where motion has stagnated, leaders step in to offer up a plan, a solution. Practice developing plans and executing on them, which builds your skills to create plans for others as well as your credibility with others as someone that gets things done. Try planning something from a vague concept and see how accurately you can predict the key milestones. Share it with others for feedback.


Leaders do not steal their ideas from others. They do, however, seek the wisdom of others in shaping and strengthening their ideas. When working within a peer group, leaders seek approval on every step of their plan. When you preview the plan steps with peers, valuable feedback may come in, but it also provides the ability to seek out the group's objections to the plan without having them comment directly on the plan itself. Those objections should be addressed in the final plan, as if you anticipated all potential challenges.

Keep the Vision

Leaders, by virtue of the position, have to know where they are taking the team. They have an idea of where they are going. Maintaining this vision keeps the rest of the team on track and focused on how they fit into the bigger piece of the puzzle. Be sure that you can speak clearly and often on the vision for the project. But talk to others, and make sure that your vision is the same as theirs. Adjust as necessary. 

How else can you lead as a peer? Have ideas? I'd love to hear them. Drop me a line on Twitter

Image Credit: Efraimstochter on Pixabay.