top of page

Managing More Experienced Colleagues? 13 Ways To Establish Yourself As A Leader

Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

Forbes Source:

Leadership positions aren't always given to the person with the highest-level title or the most years of experience. The position of "leader" can be achieved by any employee who has a solid work ethic and helps others on their team thrive. However, it can sometimes be uncomfortable to ask people who are senior to you to follow and respect you.

If you find yourself leading colleagues in higher positions with more experience, don't fret -- you can still inspire confidence and earn their trust. Thirteen members of Forbes Coaches Council shared advice on standing out as a leader, regardless of your experience level compared to your new team.

1. Serve Others

Becoming a leader is not something that occurs quickly or easily. The most effective way to be recognized as a leader is to help others become leaders. That servant leadership will inherently translate into authority, credibility and, eventually, the recognition of being a leader. - Kamyar ShahWorld Consulting Group

2. Embrace Curiosity 

When we’re among people we deem as more experienced, we can be too  intimidated to ask questions, fearing we will appear foolish or ignorant. However, a thoughtful question shows that you are listening critically and are curious and open to others' perspectives. It’s liberating to realize that you don’t have to be an expert to be a leader. You have to be open to influence and think objectively. - Deborah GoldsteinDRIVEN Professionals

3. Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission

Whenever possible, take on leadership roles. This can be done in a formal situation, such as chairing a committee. However, it can also be done informally if you begin mentoring junior employees, develop a plan to improve a process or recommend a potential solution to a company problem. None of these require "asking," and colleagues will likely be impressed with your initiative. - Charlotte WeeksWeeks Career Services, Inc.

4. Volunteer To Help

Leaders of organizations have a lot on their plate. If you focus less on yourself and more on "How can I help you," "Let me tackle this challenge," or "I'd love to help move people toward a new way of thinking," then you're already aligning in the direction of their goals -- and alleviating some of their pain. It's lonely at the top; the person who is first to volunteer often stands out. - Joanne MarkowGreenMason

5. Keep Your Own Supervisor In The Loop

Many leaders are overscheduled and drowning in a multitude of responsibilities. As a result, they can be disconnected from what their direct reports are really accomplishing. You will stand out among your peers (no matter their experience) by updating your leader regularly. Drop your boss a weekly wrap-up email or schedule biweekly 20-minute phone calls. - Stacey StaatermanStacey Staaterman Coaching & Consulting

6. Draw On Your Courage

Leaders are supposed to make sacrifices and go beyond themselves by creating a vision, pulling a team together and engaging them, and helping individuals to succeed. They need to have the courage to take accountability when things go wrong, protect people in times of crisis and make tough decisions when called for. Leadership is not just a position; it's earned with courage. - Amy NguyenHappiness Infinity LLC

7. Collaborate And Share Credit For Results

Find a niche that you excel in and increases value for your employer while also helping a colleague. Help tackle one your peers' (colleagues') thorniest problems, follow through so you have a positive impact and share the credit with the entire team. When you help reduce the stress for others by contributing your skills, you become more likable and known as an expert and an emerging leader. - Beth KuhelGet Hired, LLC

8. Ask To Be Mentored

Especially if it is not mandated at your organization, becoming a mentee can build profound career advancement advantages with leaders senior to you. Mentorship to senior leaders often implies a level of care and responsibility that goes beyond job obligations. To proactively develop a mentoring relationship creates powerful opportunities to learn and prove yourself with less risk. - John M. O'ConnorCareer Pro Inc.

9. Master Your Industry

Keeping abreast of the changes in the industry, being able to identify and anticipate problems, having innovative solutions that address them and utilizing the changes in technology are proven ways to position yourself as a leader among experienced peers/colleagues. Knowing what we bring to the table and, most importantly, being able to deliver content are qualities of a leader. - Arlene DonovanTurning Point Coaching LLC

10. Become A Super Connector

Studies have shown that the most influential people within an organization don't necessarily have the big titles. What they do have is an incredible network of people, and they are well known for having their finger on the pulse. What's more, their opinion matters. So, if a new leader can develop the reputation for being the "go-to" person for something, this will significantly enhance their power base - Gabriella GoddardBrainsparker Leadership Academy

11. Read And Learn As Much As You Can

Reading is one way that you can not only build your knowledge base but also speak intelligibly about topics. Rather than making it up or winging it, being able to back up your thoughts and opinions with research can position you as a subject matter expert. A subscription to an audiobook service is helpful if you have a long commute or like to listen while working out. - LaKesha WomackWomack Consulting Group

12. Be Humble And Reliable

Less experienced workers can quickly establish leadership positions by simply being humble and gracious to their more experienced colleagues. Remember, your peers worked hard to get where they are. Be humble, show respect and, most important, be extremely reliable. Get things done with excellence. Experienced leaders love nothing more than a doer who shows grace under pressure. - Warren ZennaZenna Consulting Group

13. Believe It Until You Become It

I have taken a twist on the old "fake it until you make it" concept and changed it to "believe it until you become it." You don't have to "fake" anything. Simply believe that you have the leadership skills and do the work to achieve your goals. Whatever you don't know, you will learn. Believe in yourself and work to develop the qualities you desire as a leader. - Tonya EcholsThrive Coaching Solutions

Article: ©2019 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page