When people talk about leadership in companies, they’re often talking about managers. But you don’t have to be in a management role to be recognized as a leader in your organization. In fact, taking a leadership role before you’re a manager may help you to get to that management role more quickly.

What Makes A Good Leader?

There are many different types of leaders. Some leaders support, mentor or coach co-workers, while others take the initiative to spearhead new projects. Effective leaders have a few things in common: they are influential, responsible and respectful. While they know how to lead with conviction, they’re also humble and will listen to and value the contributions of others.

Benefits of Being a Leader

One of the greatest benefits of demonstrating leadership in your organization is that it can help you advance in your career. Managers and senior leaders pay attention to the employees who are exhibiting leadership—whether it’s taking initiative on projects or helping co-workers develop skills. When opportunities for advancement open up, employees who are noticed are more likely to be at the top of the candidates list for HR and hiring managers. Plus, the more responsibility you are given, the more likely you are to move up within the organization.

Being a leader also helps you grow in your current role. Your manager may have assigned you to lead a project, or you may have asked to lead a project and your manager agreed. Either way, it signals that you’re doing a good job and your manager trusts you—a real confidence booster. Similarly, if a junior employee asks you to teach them a skill or mentor them, it means your good work is noticed.

How To Be a Leader In Your Organization Now

There are a lot of different ways to be a leader in your organization, ranging from informal tasks that ensure you are noticed as a leader to formal leadership opportunities that help to get you a seat at the table with senior leaders.

There are lots of informal opportunities to demonstrate your leadership abilities. Take initiative by doing something before anyone asks you to, offering to take on additional work or contributing ideas no one else has thought of. You should also go above and beyond in your role. Don’t simply do your job well—find ways to do it better, be more efficient or save the company money. Another simple way to be a leader is to help out your team members—if someone needs support to get a project done, pitch in, no matter how small the task is. And don’t forget to support your co-workers: thank people when they help you (you might even CC their manager on a thank-you email), or if someone on your team would be a good fit for a project, put their name forward.

As you become known as a leader within your team, your manager will notice and be more likely to offer you the more formal leadership opportunities, such as heading up a special project or teaching other employees a specialized skill you happen to have.

Ultimately, being a leader is not just about being a manager. Anyone can be a leader if they approach their work with initiative, positivity and a desire to influence and support others.