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Leading when you are not a leader

​20 December 2013
Christmas and New Year are approaching. It is time to look back at 2013 and summarize what this year has brought to us.

The main event of the 2013 for me was leaving university and starting on my first real job at Stora Enso. I gained a lot of professional knowledge and also learnt about leadership in the GROW trainee program. The trainee program has been a wonderful experience: meeting senior leaders of Stora Enso, learning about the company, global trends, finance, innovations thinking and leading change, profound discussions with the trainees…  However, there is one question I often asked myself when thinking about GROW: how can you learn to be a leader when you are not in a leadership position?

We trainees just started our professional careers and a lot of time will pass before we have a chance to become managers. And it is true for the majority of young professionals. So, how can you learn to be a leader when you are not in a formal position to manager people? Or maybe you should just wait?

The answer I found for myself with the help of this TED talk is that leadership doesn't have to be formal. You are a leader if you are not afraid to offer you ideas and take initiatives. You are a leader if you believe in something so much that you infect others with enthusiasm. You can lead by example (and this is something we trainees have been very good at: how many employees followed suit of the trainees and started blogging!)

One of Stora Enso's  values is "Lead". At least to me, it doesn't mean you should pursue leadership positions as your main goal, but that you should work in the best possible way and show an example to others. You can and should be a leader in everyday life.