Behavior Precedes Position. Every Time.
I was working with a small denomination at that time. A colleague was seeking to throw his name in the hat for a regional leadership position. He was venturing to win my vote (and not being so subtle in the process).
I listened with discomfort and an inner shrug - and didn't vote for him. Apparently, others felt the same. He was not elected.
Later, I learned why it was uncomfortable.
This person was enamored with a position. He had it in his head that the path to leadership was to move from pastor, to the regional position, to Bishop, to Pope, and on to King of the World. What this person didn't understand (and I hadn't clarified in my own head at that time, either) was this:
Behavior precedes positions and titles.
Every day. Every time.
We tend to distrust people hunting for leadership positions (think politicians). We do tend to trust people who act like leaders by modeling the behavior of leaders.
We know this by intuition. But intuition is often scrapped when ego is the controlling factor.
Leaders who are comfortable leading without a position understand themselves at a deeper level than ego. They know their personal values and convictions and live them out without fear. They are consistent with what they say and what they do.
No title required to do this.
Do you want to be a leader? Stop seeking it out. Wrangle ego. Clarify your personal values. Behave in a manner consistent with your clarified values. Every day.
Then you'll be the kind of leader people follow.