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Types of Unofficial Leadership

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Leaders can come in all shapes and sizes and from many different positions within an organization. Some leaders are identified by their titles, such as CEO and President. Even managers at different levels of an organization can be identified as leaders. But there are many other people within an organization that people turn to for help and advice, and these people are unofficial leaders. They can be just as important to an organization as the "official" leaders are.

"The Expert"

Every department within an organization has a person that people turn to when it comes to work advice. The type of advice can range from technical help to how to deal with a co-worker. Usually this person has been around for a long time and can be identified as an expert in his field. Experts can be managers but often are not. Often once identified as an expert and once help is given, people tend to come back to experts for advice in other areas of life.

People with Integrity

People who are perceived to have good moral compasses and who are ethical also tend to be unofficial leaders. Integrity is essential to being a good leader. People with integrity show respect for others and always do the right thing, which allows them to lead by example. Sometimes unofficial leaders don't even have to communicate with others; they garner respect and people become "followers" of them because of the way they act and the example they set.


Unofficial leaders are amazing listeners and are great at giving advice. Interpersonal skills are one of the most important traits an unofficial leader can have. If someone is able to listen and relate to problems someone may be experiencing, that person is very likely to turn to that same good listener again. Leaders are people that lead by example, but also people with whom others can relate. By being able to empathize with what others are going through, leaders become likeable and easy to open up to.


Many organizations, departments and teams can be broken down into different parts. Although a coach or a team captain has an identified leadership role, other people on the team can be just as effective as leaders. The team "cheerleader" can also be an unofficial leader. This person cheers others on, congratulates when things get done, and consoles when things don't go the right way. Usually this person is very inspirational.


Sara Higley began writing in 2008 for the Michigan newspaper "The Pioneer," where she covered local high school and collegiate sports. She has also conducted extensive research on adolescent health and fitness for Leisure Intelligence Group. Sara has a Bachelor of Arts in sports management and communication from the University of Michigan.

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