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10 Signs You Are A Leader And Don’t Even Know It

10 Signs You Are A Leader And Don’t Even Know It

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that in each and everyone of us, there is a potential leader. The difference between John Quincy Adams and yourself however, is the courage to take a step forward and the drive to reach a goal. Do you ever lay awake at night thinking about the promotion you should go for but can’t because you don’t think you would be fit for it? Think again, here are some indications that you are a great leader, and you don’t even know it yet.

1. You are approachable.

If you find yourself giving advice to your friends and coworkers more than you are taking it, it means that they value your opinion and are the go to person for help. Being approachable is an important quality for a leader to have because no one really wants to work for someone without an open door policy. People trust your judgment and confide in you: take pride in that.

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2. You maintain a smile, even when it is difficult.

Maintaining your composure professionally is an excellent trait many leaders have and many companies are looking for. It is important to keep calm and keep the situation under control. If you have found yourself nodding silently and listening to someone who is obviously upset and is screaming at you, then you have more patience than most.

3. You have an open mind.

Keeping an open mind is an important trait when it comes to being a leader. If you have found yourself listening to someone tell you on how to do things more efficiently and take it as constructive criticism, I applaud you.

4. You are straight forward.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone is asking for advice and even though you know they do not want to hear it, you give it to them anyways? You don’t sugar coat it and give it to them straight to get the point across. That is a good thing, it may not seem like it to your friend at the time, but it is a great quality each leader has. Sometimes, you will have to hold meetings, give constructive feedback on an employee’s performance and occasionally, let someone go. It takes a tough person to have this trait, be proud of it.

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5. You are responsible, even though you don’t want to be.

There are some of days where it just sucks to live and you want to just lay in bed. You want to stay there, eat your meals there and go back to sleep. Whatever has got you down, you push it aside and you force yourself out of bed because you have responsibilities. You have people counting on you and you have things to get done that will not finish themselves. There are some that don’t make it out of bed, and just push those tasks aside for another day, but not you. This is called being responsible. Leaders need be responsible when no one else wants to be.

6. You treat everyone equally despite how you feel.

Whether it is at work or at school, you treat people equally regardless of your feelings. Being a leader means that you must be able to treat everyone with respect, even if you are having a bad day. If you are the kind of person to leave your personal life’s luggage at the door of the establishment you work or study at, that is impressive. Not many can do that.

7. You are confident but are never afraid to ask for help or support.

Great leaders are not perfect. They are confident in the choices they make but they are not afraid to ask for help if they need it. If you have found yourself stuck in a rut and ask someone else for support, take it as a good thing. You are human and though you may know a lot, you don’t know everything. If you accept this and move on with an open mind, consider yourself leader material.

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8. You find the silver lining, even in the worst situations.

Your energy is irresistible. Everyone needs positive energy to feed off of and leaders of all kinds need to have it. It is important to have this energy in the work place because mistakes are made here and there, but any action taken afterwards can make the situation worse if you let negative energy fester. Great leaders take every situation and focus on the silver lining.

9. You help others without expecting anything in return.

Have you found yourself finishing tasks at work because it needs to be done not because you have been asked? Or volunteering to help someone move just because? Great leaders do things to help others and not expect anything else in return from anyone.

10. You genuinely care about how others are feeling.

Sometimes in life, you find yourself pushing plans aside to listen to someone vent or to be their shoulder to cry on. You are the person that people come to when they want to talk about life and how it is going wrong. You make time for this because you honestly care about how people feel. Great leaders not only try to get to know who their people are as employees but also as actual people. They acknowledge that people have feelings, ups and downs, and need to have someone listen and reset their mind.

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If you found yourself thinking, “I do that” with several of these points, you may just be a leader. All you need is a little confidence and initiative to make it happen. There is nothing in this world stopping you from being what you want to be, except yourself. If you want it, work for it. You already have got the traits of a leader and the world could always use another great one.

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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