People often think you have to be a manager in order to be a leader, but the truth is, leadership can be exercised no matter where you are in your career. At Thrive, one of our cultural values is “ownership.” Individuals are empowered to speak up and advocate for change in real time, no matter their role. It may feel uncomfortable to speak up if you’re not in a managerial position, but a culture where everyone is welcome to use their voices and act as leaders allows for growth, inclusion, and belonging. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us examples of times they’ve acted as leaders, and what they learned from the experience. Which of these leadership ideas will you try?

Speak up for your teammates

“I recently took the courageous option to differ in opinion to the majority consensus in the team on a new project. I strongly felt that what was being suggested was not supportive of the well-being of each team member. I proposed an alternative that would give our team members more balance in their lives, and the proposal was accepted. Many team members thanked me afterwards for speaking up as most of them were thinking the same thing but too afraid to voice it for fear of it being a career limiting move. I believe that a true leader needs to be brave enough to go against the grain or challenge the status quo. Great leaders challenge the dominant logic for the greater good of the team.”

—Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia

Communicate with compassionate directness

“I often say that every time you speak you are auditioning for leadership. As a coach, every time I communicate I have an opportunity to be responsible, inclusive and move a conversation and/or individual forward. That to me is leadership in action.”

—Joshua Miller, master certified executive coach, Austin, TX

Be clear about your goals and priorities

“I am in leadership when I feel altruistically in synchronicity with a team or colleagues. When each person understands their role, responsibilities and our mutual goals are clearly defined. I walk side by side with them and sometimes behind to quietly observe but never in front. When this occurs, I feel in command, inflow, and in my element. I do not define my being in ‘leadership’ by which of my careers I am in nor the title I am using, whether I am working as a personal assistant, personal organizer, manager, researcher, archivist, or ghostwriter.”

—Lisa Krohn, writer, archivist, personal organizer, personal assistant, NY

Advocate for your teams’ well-being

“In a previous role that defined my career for almost two decades, I led a team of six sales and marketing professionals. The team was composed mostly of women, and those female colleagues soon started to grow their families. There were few accommodations made for working mothers in our office environment, barring the one curtain that we transferred from office to office depending on who was pumping at the time. When it came time for one of my team members to return to work from maternity leave, she was nervous about storing her breast milk in the break room fridge which was always packed with smelly lunches and stale leftovers. I could sense that she was not excited about rejoining the workforce and I wanted to make her feel as comfortable as possible as a new working mom. My act of leadership came when I decided to purchase a mini fridge for her office so she could store her breast milk in a safe and controlled environment. One little appliance made a big difference. I took matters into my own hands to improve the working conditions for a valued teammate. I am still proud of that decision, and it helped to build trust and empathy amongst our team for years to come.”

—Linné Diiorio, sales and marketing consultant, Richmond, VA

Host an event to foster community

“Six years ago, I was looking for a female mentor to help me navigate mid-career doldrums. I was unsuccessful in building that relationship so I began hosting monthly mentorship events around the challenges I faced. Those events led to a loyal community who helped me not only find courage and confidence to chart a different professional path, but they also helped me develop a new model of mentorship. Leading that community launched the business I have today. I am forever grateful for those founding mentors, members, and that serendipitous leadership opportunity.”

—Stacy Cassio, CEO, Charlotte, NC

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Author(s)

  • Rebecca Muller

    Senior Editor and Community Manager

    Thrive

    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.