What kind of leader are you, anyway? You might be thinking: “I have no idea — I’m still climbing the corporate ladder!” This question can be tough to answer if you’ve never been in a formal leadership position before, but you can make an educated guess based on how you perceive your interactions with colleagues at work; or draw on an extracurricular leadership experience, like being the captain of a sports team or head of your volunteer group. If you still can’t think of anything, identify a leader in your company or industry whose style you would like to emulate when the time comes.
Then, think about your leadership position right now. You don’t have to be in a management position to have some leadership responsibilities at work. If you spearhead a project or even just set up weekly lunches for the junior staff to foster teamwork, then you’ve already got some leadership mojo working for you. Here’s a step-by-step way to find your unique brand of B-O-S-S, no matter where you are on the totem pole:
Example: I am a medical researcher.
My leadership style: I love being able to motivate my team with a casual style while also giving clear direction and following up on assignments.
My leadership position right now: I work in the lab on my own for the most part. I have regular check-ins with my boss every week but am mostly looking into a microscope.
So where do you go from here? Well, if you are craving human interaction and more responsibility with direct reports, then ask your boss if you can manage your department’s interns. If this is too far beyond the scope (no pun intended) of your job, then maybe you can get involved with bringing on one or two interns to your department so you can help show them the ropes, giving them assignments like filing paperwork or logging research and then meeting with them to go over the task.
As you know because you probably were one, had one, or even are one (as we saw from the Vince Vaughn movie The Internship, it’s never too late!) interns are hungry to learn more and generally get jazzed about any assignment you throw their way, including things you might find boring or tedious. Managing a group of interns or even just one will give you invaluable leadership chops for whatever you want to do — and a “thadda girl” from your boss for going the extra mile.