Be the Leader of a Group

Being the leader of a group takes a lot of skill as well as an understanding of the needs of the group. While some people are natural leaders, other people need to learn how to become a good leader. To become the leader of a group, it is important to develop and practice the skills of an effective leader in order to help the group achieve its goals.


Taking on a Leadership Position

  1. Become an expert in your field. In order to become the leader of the group, it’s important that you are extremely knowledgeable about the group’s goals, the industry, and the people involved. Do some research, talk with a mentor, and observe the activities of the group to become a pro. As a leader, you want to be the person with the answers. Being an expert will make you feel confident, and you will appear experienced and capable.[1]
  2. Practice good leadership qualities. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few common traits that experts believe make the best leader. For some people, transitioning into a leadership role is very natural because they already exhibit many of these leadership qualities. But for others, these qualities need to be learned and practiced. That’s OK! Take a look at these qualities shared by the most successful and most admired leaders, and identify qualities you need to work on:[1]
    • A strong desire to take action and try new things
    • The ability to express themselves effectively
    • Good at motivating others
    • Exhibit good judgment, with the ability to think fast and retain composure under pressure
    • Genuine interest in the opinions and ideas of others
    • Imaginative, often coming up with creative ideas or solutions
  3. Gain some experience. Depending on the specific group, you may not be able to join in right away or you may have to start at the bottom and work your way up. That’s okay! You are gaining lots of knowledge about the inner workings of the group and the people involved. Working your way up will also help you become an expert because you will have first-hand experience in more aspects of the group. Join in and look at how the current group leader runs things. Take note of what you think works and what you would improve upon if you were the leader.[2]
  4. Take on more responsibilities within the group. Maybe you want to be student council president but currently are just on the board, or perhaps you want to write for the newspaper but are just on the staff. Whatever the case, leaders don’t wait for things to happen, they make them happen. Come up with some ideas for the group and figure out how you can make them happen.[2]
    • If you are on the newspaper staff but aren’t yet a writer, pitch story ideas to the editor or volunteer to go to the football rally to interview players post-game.
    • If you’re assigned to a project at work, schedule a meeting with the other group members to outline the project and discuss goals. Being proactive in this way will put you in a leadership position within the group right off the bat.
    • If you’re involved with a club, organize special events to raise awareness of important issues or celebrations associated with the group (e.g., throw a toga party fundraiser for the Latin Club, create a display at the school entrance for Black History Month, organize a pastry bake sale for the French Club, etc.).
  5. Be confident. As you take on more responsibilities and get more involved with the group, remember that confidence is extremely important. Confidence is a quality that people associate with intelligence, capability, and acumen. Even if you don’t feel 100% confident yet, it is important to act like you do. Be purposeful with your words and in your movements. Try using these power positions, which help send subconscious signals that make others agree with you:[3]
    • Dress like a leader by always appearing professional and put together.
    • Watch your body language. Stand up straight and avoid looking bored, tired, or uninterested.
    • Make direct eye contact when you’re talking with someone.
    • Nod your head when you are listening.
  6. Share your ideas with the group. One of the most important aspects of being a leader and gaining momentum within a group is to include other people in your ideas. Leaders lead, they don’t just boss people around. Be sure to ask other group members if they like the idea and encourage them to contribute to the idea or its design. By sharing your vision and getting other people to adopt it as their own, the group will work together to bring your idea to fruition with you as the lead.[1]

Acting Like a Leader

  1. Set a good example. Whether you are already the leader of the group or you are still working towards this goal, it is important to always act in a way that reflects the positive, confident, and praiseworthy qualities of a leader. Acting like a leader will not only show the group you take the role seriously, it will also dictate the standard you want group members to uphold.[4]
    • Always keep your promises.
    • Try to always be positive, outgoing, optimistic, and respectful.
    • Show the group you are willing to do the same things you ask them to do.
    • Be trustworthy and have integrity; don’t be fake or talk about people behind their backs.
    • Be fair and encouraging to all group members, and don’t play favorites.
  2. Be proactive. As a leader, it is your responsibility to have a big picture of your plan and anticipate challenges before they arise. Instead of just waiting for problems to happen and then solving them, try to take steps and come up with ways to prevent them from happening at all. Not everything is preventable, but you can at least come up with possible solutions preemptively. A manager is responsible for responding to various situations, but a leader is someone to who sees all of these possibilities and takes effective action to prevent them before they even occur.[5]
  3. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates. It is important to delegate tasks to group members that have proven themselves responsible and skilled enough to complete the task on their own. Delegating tasks will encourage individual participation and cooperation in achieving your group’s goals. It will also give you more time as a leader to plan out the next steps for the group.[4]
    • Assign tasks that are reasonable; impossible tasks kill morale and discourage participation.
    • Give clear instructions for what to do, but let the person decide how to do it.
    • Quickly recognize accomplishments for delegated tasks to boost group morale and individual self-esteem.
    • Don’t overload one person with responsibilities; it may overwhelm them or appear to be favoritism to other members of the group.
  4. Be decisive and in control. As you start to delegate responsibilities and encourage feedback from the group, it becomes more difficult to stand out as the leader. You want to be approachable without losing all influence, and you want to hand over some of the responsibilities without losing control; it’s very tricky. The key to maintaining your authority is to be firm in your convictions and your stance.[2] Getting a group consensus is important, but don’t be afraid to override decisions sometimes if you truly feel it’s the best thing to do. Use good judgment and remember that you set the rules and boundaries. Just avoid being unkind or acting like a dictator!
  5. Network with other people and groups. As a leader it is important to be resourceful and to make contacts along the way for your group and for yourself. This can help you raise funds for your group, recruit new group members, and diversify your interests by trying new things. This will help keep the group fun, fresh, and exciting![1]
    • Try partnering with like-minded groups for special events (e.g., get the boys swim team to join the girls swim team for a carb-loading team dinner the night before a meet).
    • Attend political fund-raisers, rallies and social events to see how more established groups represent themselves.
    • Volunteer at an event in another community to help spread the word about the group to a different audience.
  6. Continue to seek self-improvement. As you grow as a leader, it is important to continue developing your skills, widening your interests, and bettering yourself. In order for your group to get better, everyone within the group has to grow, including the leader. Continue to earn respect from those around you, and learn everything you can about your group’s area of interest so you can keep being the person people turn to for advice![2]

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Sources and Citations

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