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Are You An Accidental Leader?

Accidental leaders are experts in their field with a high level of education and experience who were promoted into a leadership role based on their hard work and expertise. Or in some cases, are those who did not set out to become leaders, but fell into the role through good luck or being in the right place at the right time.


Do any of the following apply to you? 

  • You are good with people but just can’t seem to motivate your team
  • You lack formal professional development outside of your field
  • You relay information to your team, yet are finding they fail to successfully complete the tasks
  • Your hands are tied, but you don’t know what to do differently

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you might be an accidental leader


If you identify as an accidental leader you are not alone—there are tens of thousands of you! If you have been given the responsibility of leading or managing a team, but not the support or training, here are some ways to help you effectively assert your leadership.

5 Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills

  1. Learn to Lead: Upon being promoted, ensure you receive training for the new position; make it a condition for accepting the role. 
  2. Lead by Example: Be a behavioral role model. Be honest, supportive, and trustworthy with your team; they’ll naturally behave the same way.
  3. Ask for Help: If you need support, ask for it! Identify an experienced, recognized, and respected leader in your field to ask for advice and have conversations with. 
  4. Prioritize: What’s important and urgent? What can wait? What’s important to others? After asking yourself these questions, establish 2 x 60 minute time slots in your day when you are on “Do Not Disturb” mode—no exceptions. Use this time to complete your priorities. 
  5. Establish Ownership: Before responding to problems, identify who owns the problem and who is responsible for it. See if your direct reports can solve the problem on their own, then circle back and check in with them on their progress. 

Remember, leadership is about clarifying issues, setting priorities, and holding others accountable. Don’t just strive to be liked, strive to be respected!