Think about the group projects, sports teams, or student organizations that you are active with or have participated with in the past. Who were the individuals that were not the designated leaders, but had true influence over the group? These individuals were the informal leaders– were you one of them? Informal leaders are individuals that do not hold an official leadership position, have actual authority, or the responsibility of managing others, but are respected and those among them choose to follow them.
Informal leaders have an impact on an organization, which is why we must recognize when opportunities to informally lead arise. It is the responsibility of the informal leader to influence others and support our formal leaders. Here are a few of the ways an informal leader can be an asset to a team or group.
I’m sure we all have memories of being the “new kid”, whether it was in school or on a team. Recently new individuals joined our recruiting team at Hyatt. Recognizing that joining a team with established relationships can be intimidating, I wanted to be sure to make the new members feel included and welcomed to the team. This was not an assignment given to me by my director, this was an act of informal leadership, recognizing that the most effective way for me to work with my new team members was to make them feel acknowledged, included, respected, and heard.
Informal leaders have the opportunity to influence others. Theirs is the opinion or voice that other team members want to hear. Their feedback may also be solicited by formal leaders. It’s easy for an informal leader to focus on their own desires, but recognizing what is best for the team is the more prudent action. Formal leaders will appreciate informal leaders using their influence to support the changes they’re initiating and key priorities that they’ve put into place.
Support the Formal Leader
As an informal leader you don’t want to be viewed as an obstacle or a barrier to progress, therefore it’s essential that informal leaders align themselves with a group’s formal leader. An informal leader can be distracting if their actions conflict with those of formal leaders. Therefore an informal leader should welcome the opportunity to support the established leader. Leadership can come from all levels of an organization and informal leaders should view their role as the pathway to formal leadership roles.
Ronisha is one of Hyatt’s College Recruiting Managers. Hyatt’s College Recruiters visit more than 30 college campuses each year recruiting top talent at hospitality programs across the country. A graduate of The Ohio State University, Ronisha begin her Hyatt career as a Human Resources Corporate Management Trainee. During her ten years with Hyatt, she has worked at Hyatt Hotels in Orlando, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. To learn more about opportunities with Hyatt please visit hyatt.jobs, follow Hyatt on twitter @hyattcareers, become a Hyatt Facebook fan at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Careers and follow the Campus Recruiter blog at blog.hyatt.jobs.