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How to Lead When You're Not the Leader in the Office

Going into the workplace every day can be draining, stressful, and tiresome. Whether you are in a leadership position or not, it is a good skill to know how to lead co-workers with honor and respect. In fact, most people will have to lead a group discussion, a meeting, or another event during their time in the workplace, so check out these three ways to lead in the office, even when you’re not the leader:

1. Lead by Example

Leading by example is a great way to lead when you’re not the leader in the office. Demonstrate in your actions your relationship with Christ. Be kind, caring, and compassionate to your coworkers. Whether your coworkers are believers or not, treat them with gravitas and respect. In your work, prove yourself to be reliable, trustworthy, and honest. When you're stressed with work, avoid easy shortcuts such as lying, manipulating, or cheating. Even if you do not particularly enjoy your job, work at your job with all your heart. 

Paul inspires us with these words, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24). Your coworkers will see your leadership qualities when you lead by example. Being kind, loving, and caring will communicate only a positive message to your office. They will see your pure heart and the love you have for them and the company. 

Try to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in your daily life by asking God to help you grow in your Christian walk (Galatians 5:22-23). By growing deeper in your relationship with God and cultivating the fruits of the Spirit in your life, the people in your workplace will see Christ in you. As believers, this is our goal. We should try to demonstrate Christ in our actions and extend His love to others. Whether we are at the office or home, we need to lead by example. 

When we lead by example, it gives a true testimony to our faith and genuineness as a follower of Christ. When people see our faith demonstrated in our actions, they will see Christ’s life-transforming power in our lives.  

2. Build Community and Relationships

Building community and relationships is a second way to lead when you’re not the leader in the office. When you make a conscious effort to build strong relationships and a sense of community in the workplace, it will demonstrate to your office that you truly care about them as individual human beings. The community of the workplace should be focused on helping one another and building one another up. Hate, jealousy, and bitterness have no place in the office. Intentionally choose to build a positive community in your office and ensure each person feels like a valuable asset to the team because they truly are irreplaceable. 

In addition to building community, you can lead in your office by building and cultivating strong relationships. Relationships in the office should be mutual, friendly relationships. Romantic relationships should not be encouraged in order to avoid drama in the workplace. By being a friend to your coworkers, you are leading. You will be taking active steps to make your workplace become a place of love, trust, and compassion. If your coworkers build relationships with one another too, it will ensure the entire workplace is a positive working environment. 

Strong relationships and a strong sense of community ensure loyalty, honesty, and trust among coworkers. Once coworkers can trust and rely on one another, it will make the office a better place to work. Building community and relationships is a key factor in how to lead when you’re not the leader in the office.

3. Cultivate a Servant’s Heart

A last idea of how you can lead when you’re not the leader in the office is to cultivate a servant’s heart. As mentioned under “Lead by Example,” we should follow the example of Jesus in order to cultivate a servant’s heart. All Christians should have a servant’s heart just as Jesus did. Jesus took on the form of a servant by dying for the sins of the world (Philippians 2:1-11). The Lord washed the feet of His disciples as God in the flesh (John 13:1-17). Christ never saw Himself as being superior to others. In the same way, we need to take a servant’s attitude. A servant joyfully serves others with their whole heart and serves out of a humble heart. Servant leadership is a strong skill to cultivate in your workplace because servant leadership does not attract any fame, glory, or attention. It is taking on the role of a humble servant. 

The Lord tells us “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). Since Jesus had a servant heart, as followers of Him, we should also have this same heart attitude. Servants often make the best leaders because they genuinely care about the people around them. A servant never feels that they are better, superior, or more dignified than others. Rather, a servant is willing to put the other person’s interests, wants, and desires above their own. By taking on the role of a servant, you will be able to lead even if you’re not the leader in the office setting. 

Leading For The Future

In each of these three points: leading by example, building community and relationships, and cultivating a servant’s heart, you demonstrate the hands and heart of Jesus to the people in your workplace. They will be able to see Christ’s love extend through your honesty, integrity, and attitude. When we are not in a leadership position at our workplace, it can seem like we are overlooked or inferior to leaders; however, this is not true. 

Remember, even if you are not in a leadership position in your office, keep striving and thriving by following Jesus’ example and extending His love to others. Whether you are a technical leader or not, you can lead in your actions, heart, and attitude. 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Fizkes


Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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