People seek out others who care about and respect them. They want a voice and need to be heard. They want someone who takes the time to understand their situation, challenges and opportunities. One leader said it best when he taught, “Treat people that you meet like they have serious problems and you will be right most of the time.”

If you learn to truly listen to others and show empathy, people will look to you for counsel and advice. One way to help peers, colleagues and friends is to provide peer coaching. This does not have to be formal coaching but rather a discussion that follows basic coaching principles. Coaching a peer involves asking great questions, listening to understand the issue, helping them discover a few possible solutions to the challenge, discussing some possible obstacles they may face and what they will do to overcome them and helping your peer hold herself accountable to take action.

Titleless leaders do not require praise because they want to help others. They want to understand what motivates their peer and use every contact with that person to inspire her. They care enough about the person and they want to influence her to be her best.

Titlesss leaders are authentic and candid. They are candid about their own strengths and more importantly the things they have struggles with or have failed. They share their observations and do not just say what others want to hear. They are honest with themselves and others. Their behaviors are congruent with their values. They are true to themselves and people see it.

Leading without titles is easier when you are highly competent at your job. People respect others who are effective and successful. They recognize that team success is more important than individual success. When people only pursue individual recognition, their peers will not respect them. I call these people resume builders. They are selfish and self-centered.

Great leaders understand that how they do things is more important than what they do. How you treat people at any level in an organization speaks volume about who you are as a person. If you treat an administrative assistant the same as the CEO, your values and level of respect as a leader are aligned.

As a formal leader, employees often asked me what they needed to do to get to the next level so they could get promoted. My answer was always the same. Act like you already have the title and do the things you would do if you were already in the new position. I would then have a discussion about how they could influence people now so people would respect them before they were promoted.

I believe that people are hungry for strong leaders. You don’t need to have a title or formal leadership position to influence and inspire people. You need to have empathy, listen and show people that you care about and respect them. You need to be authentic and candid. You need to care about your team more than yourself. If you demonstrate these attributes and are highly competent at your job, people will follow you.

If you would like to know more about how to be a strong leader without a formal title, contact me at