Here are some definitions on leading that we can look into as we talk about leading like an individual contributor:
Brian Tracy said, “Leaders think and talk about solutions.”
Colin Powell said, “Leading is solving problems.”
Donald McGannon said, “Leadership is action.”
Steve Jobs said, “Leaders are innovators.”
John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence.”
Here is what the collective definitions says leaders do: Think and talk about solutions, solve problems, take action, innovate, and influence.
There is nothing here that isn’t done by individual contributors every day.
Your position or title is not the ultimate measure of a successful career. It is what you do with your position or title that matters.
The key is to do your best where you are, when you are, with what you are.