Managing Up: 5 Ways to Lead Without a Title

There are billions of dollars of revenue and millions of employees represented in the top Fortune 50 companies in the world; yet only 50 CEOs are leading those organizations. How do all of the other employees make an impact? How does one lead, even without a title?

Many people know Jack Welch as the former CEO of GE and modern-day management guru, yet many people don’t realize that he started off as a junior engineer in 1960. Twenty-one years later, he would assume the role of CEO. How did he get there?

He says, “If you can consistently deliver on performance and you have the behaviors to go with it, your boss will know that you can always be counted on.”

Your team can choose to act or to be acted upon. They can choose to take accountability or choose not to take accountability. In the book, The Oz Principle, we define accountability as this, “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieve results, to see it, own it, solve it and do it.” This empowering definition of accountability can change the trajectory of your career.


A team leader at one of the world’s leading manufacturers identified specific results that he wanted to achieve with his team. Initially, he didn’t have support of upper leadership; but as the team focused on those things they could control, rather than things they could not control, they started to make an impact. Six months later, with record-revenue coming in and leading employee engagement scores, leadership took notice of what this team was doing, expanded the program globally, and promoted this leader. All because he chose to focus on what was within his control.

We would suggest 5 ways that you can begin leading today:

1. Focus on Results

People recognize and appreciate results; they also like to follow winners. A senior leader at one of the Fortune 50 shared with us that she is often asked how she made it to the top. Her response was to focus on results. Make sure you are clear on how you impact results, and then ensure that everything you are doing helps you and your team produce those results.

2. Lead by Example

Leading by example is usually a phrase associated with those at the top, but it could be even more applicable for those working to manage up. Your example of how you communicate, how you collaborate, and how you get things done will send a message to all of those around you. Don’t ask people to do what you say; rather, ask them to do what you do.

3. Ask for and Provide Feedback

Being coachable is an undervalued skill that helps leaders both move ahead and also lead in the moment. Asking for feedback on what you can do better, more of, or differently cultivates a relationship with those you are asking. They will become more invested in your success. Similarly, providing feedback, both appreciative and constructive in the right way and at the right time, increases your value exponentially to those around you.

4. Give Recognition

No one is an island, and no one likes the quarterback who takes all of the glory. Make sure you recognize all of those around you constantly for the little things and big things. Everyone likes to be appreciated; and as with most things, the more you give, the more you will receive.

5. Choose to Be Positive

There are so many things that happen on a daily basis that can cause us to get upset, feel discouraged, or get down. We might have been stuck in traffic, the internet was running slow, we lost a prospective client, we didn’t receive that raise, my sports team is terrible…again, and the list goes on. Yet those who choose to be positive, to look at the bright side, to be optimistic and see the good in the world around them and in the people they associate with, will always have an impact for good.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Be that tide!

By acting on these, you will be well on your way to achieving results and leading without a title. And if you are doing that, the title will likely come – but you never needed it anyway!

For more on how to elevate accountability, check out Accountability Builder.

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