How Do You Step Up And Lead When A Void Exists In Leadership?

Leadership Lesson: How do you step up to fill in for leadership, bringing about the needed impact in your environment when leadership is nowhere to be found?

We see various forms of leadership all around us, from within our local groups and communities to the higher and upper echelons of domestic, international, and global affairs.

We’re accustomed to seeing someone at the helm, typically confident enough in their steadfast approach, balanced demeanor, and respect for the influence they have. In that leader’s self-awareness there exists a true understanding of the far-reaching implications and ripple effect of his or her power.

In most environments, those seeking the top leadership standing will vie for the power against others longing for the same position. And whoever wins the post in question, regardless of their methods, typically tries to work toward a mission of stability, unity, and strength for his or her constituents and group.

But, what if that doesn’t happen?

What if the leader brings about instability? What if there are cracks or a void where steady leadership should prevail? What if the lack of overall leadership causes the group to begin to fracture into subtribes, each going its separate way?

Where in most cases followers would be able to provide support to a leader — one who truly takes on the mantle, responsibilities, and role of leadership — in other cases followers are left to their own devices.

Whether through their action or inaction, the leader feels no need to unite the constituency behind a common cause all of its members can get behind.

Leadership is no longer trickling down from the top to impact the environment.  And for certain constituents, those cognizant of the importance of leadership, they can no longer stand idly by. It is on them to take on that job.

Related: Free Leadership Learning Tool: Learn By Comparing Your Bosses

If this is the case in your environment, at that point, how do you step up, in your own way, to impact your piece of the world?

When it comes to your own threshold for expectations, ask yourself these questions:

What do you expect of your leader?

It’s important to know what you expect of your leader, overall. Yes, you may have your own agenda or personal expectations, but you also need to consider the overall state of your group, whether local and defined or more broad and expansive. It’s important that a leader do what’s best to move the group forward in a cohesive, collective manner.

What do you need to see for your leader to be deemed a leader?

Specifically, the actions your leader carries out set the stage for his or her success–and that of your group. It’s important to expect certain and specific action, gestures, planning, and communication. The details of what they do, beyond the general approach of the first bullet, is important because those actions set the priorities of how the leader will both interact with others and work for the mission.

What steps do you take to step up?

Each of us can play a part during the tenure of the leader. We don’t have to interact with the leader personally for us to impact the message or mission. Even from a distance, we can respectfully doubt or debate the merit of ideas or throw full support behind that leader in order to place our imprint of disapproval or approval, respectively, on that message.

So, when a void appears, in an effort to work toward taking action to offset it, answer these questions:

What do you want to see in the world and in your environment?

When there’s a void felt as a result of lack of leadership, we need to step up and step in with what we want to see in our surroundings. It falls upon us to make that difference and lead toward effective change or, at the very least, maintenance of the systems, thoughts, and processes that have worked to date. It’s much too easy to step back and let things fall apart.

Related Post: The Example You Set Is Powerful, So “Be The Change You Want To See”

What is your passion? What are your skills?

Whether we knew what we wanted to see in our environment before the lapse in leadership or figured it out after the fact, we need to consider what we can contribute. We need to understand what it is that drives us the most, and decide which tools are needed to do our best work. It’s when those voids in leadership present themselves that we should step in, in whatever capacity we are able or feel comfortable, to effectuate the most impact.

How do you get the result from those tools you have at your disposal?

We need to understand ourselves, what we want, and what we’re capable of. All the resources that are available to us – we need to determine how to best use them to fill that leadership void. These steps can be an amplified extension of the good work we do in our everyday lives for those immediately around us. One needs to determine how to extend the good work they’re doing on a smaller level to a greater stage, should they choose – or feel compelled — to do so.


There is so much more that we can do that we are not yet aware of. That ability reveals itself when we’re pushed to the brink or toward discomfort.

When things are taken care of and are working, we can get complacent. “Complacency” doesn’t mean “lazy.” It just means we feel as though, because things are good, there is no need to rush forward to maintain what has been achieved. Things are going fine. Our leaders have control and they are effective.

Until they’re not.

Then it falls upon us to step up.

Every step of work to date builds a path of preparation to demonstrate our best work and selves today, while leaving a lasting and effective impression and legacy tomorrow.



Leave a Reply

Share CiO
Hide Buttons