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  • Writer's pictureKen Phillips

Leadership When You're Not the Boss: Stepping Up and Leading From Now


 Leadership is often seen as the privilege of those with official titles and corner offices. However, true leadership extends beyond these traditional confines. In "Make a Better World: A Practical Guide to Leadership," the concept of leadership is democratized, showing how it can be embodied by anyone, regardless of their official role within an organization. This piece is part of our series, "Three Minutes for Insights," designed to shift your perspective and inspire you to take action, proving that leadership is accessible to all.

Six Realistic Steps from the Book True leadership transcends formal titles and roles. It involves recognizing and acting on what needs to be done, guided by a clear understanding of the greater mission. Here are six practical steps to enhance your leadership abilities:

  1. Networking: Build robust relationships with both colleagues and external stakeholders who align with your goals. Effective networking creates a supportive network of potential partners and allies.

  2. Seeing What Needs to Be Done: Leaders have a keen sense of their environment. They are adept at identifying challenges and focusing on critical issues to push the organization's mission forward.

  3. Seizing Opportunity: Knowing what needs to be done is not enough. After identifying opportunities and gaps, you need to step up and take advantage of circumstances.

  4. Articulating the Right Strategy: Leadership requires the right strategy to follow. It means knowing ‘how’ to solve the problem and enables you to lead in new ways.

  5. Persistence in Spite of Roadblocks: Effective leadership requires a commitment to achieving the results that are needed. Staying focused and determined, even when progress isn't immediately visible, establishes yourself as a dependable leader.

  6. Running Meetings Well: Conducting efficient and effective meetings is a hallmark of competent leadership. Ensuring that meetings are well-organized, remain focused, and end on time with clear action items assures you will be known as someone who gets things done on time. This has worked for me so many times!


You do not need a formal title to lead effectively. By following the six realistic steps above, you will demonstrate true leadership. When based on positive values for a better world, these actions will set you apart as a leader who can drive transformative changes within your organization and the world. As Anyi Wu, a young colleague from China, noted, "Ken has been my mentor from the beginning of the year.… He inspired me to do things I love and guided me where to go next. I really think all the young people in China should read this book! For more insights and strategies on effective leadership, visit

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