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25 Signs You Have The Potential To Be A Great Leader

25 Signs You Have The Potential To Be A Great Leader

It’s not exactly easy being head honcho – decisions have to be made, people have to be swayed, and the pressure’s on to achieve success at the end of the day. If you’re a leader, what will you ultimately be remembered for? You can be the good boss, the one who gets along with everyone and may be a bit of a pushover. Or you can be the stern boss that demands high standards for success, possibly being respected but also despised. But what does it really take to be an iconic, memorable, all around great leader? Listed below are 25 characteristics that you may possess to be regarded as a great leader.

1. You’re persuasive

This is one of the most essential characteristics – you have a knack for persuading others. Whether to get someone on board with an idea or if you’re skilled at conveying an argument, every leader is known for their ability to compel others.

2. You inspire those around you

A great leader doesn’t only maintain focus on themselves – they work to teach, motivate, and share their expertise with those around them. Others often regard you as a fountain of knowledge, as a means to learn something. They rely on your experience and your advice, and you’re more than willing to help.

3. You stay composed under pressure

Similar to the last point, you’re able to keep a cool mind at all times. When the going gets tough, you don’t let it get to you – you face adversity head on.

4. You trust in yourself

Trust in yourself and it will build the trust of those around you. You believe in yourself to come through in the clutch moments, and have a stream of confidence backing your every move.

5. You’re persistent

You’re always determined to get what you want. While you understand that it can’t always be the case, you exhaust every resource and every ounce of effort you have left before admitting defeat.

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6. You exercise effective decision making 

No great leader has ever been known to be indecisive. When a daunting decision comes your way, you know how to employ good judgement, make that decision in a timely manner and be sure about it. You’re logical, and a quick problem solver. Assertiveness is also key, which leads to the next point…

7. You stick by your word

You understand that if other’s see you as too flexible, they’ll walk all over you. You don’t bend to the objections of others – rather, you hold your ground whenever confronted and stand by whatever decisions you’ve made.

8. You’re self-disciplined

You practice self control and self-restraint. You don’t let emotions factor into your decision making. You don’t let desires or negative thoughts like greed carry you away. You don’t give into temptations easily and you’re strict with yourself. Subsequently, you understand that your success depends on it.

9. You always have a plan

Everyone comes to you in a time of need. You’re an effective strategist, and always have an idea or solution. You embrace everyday challenges as well as your ability to overcome them with your problem-solving.

10. You’re goal-oriented

You’re not happy unless you’re working to accomplish something. In fact, your mentality requires that you constantly work to achieve a plethora of goals in your personal life as well as your work life, whether you’re learning a new instrument or improving your health. Your confidence grows with each and every goal you happen to achieve and you feed that fire.

11. You constantly work to improve yourself

In respect to the previous point, you make it a lifelong mission to perpetually improve yourself in any way, shape or form. No one is perfect, and you understand that. However, you make it a priority to let others know that you’re constantly working towards being the best that you can be. And even though you’re not perfect…

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12. You are a perfectionist 

You don’t half-ass it when it comes to getting the job done. You exemplify at every instance, and understand that the beauty of everything lies in the details of your work. You go above an beyond, setting higher and higher standards for yourself and for others.

13. You’re open-minded

You frequently take the initiative to view matters through the perspective of others. This allows you to make sound decisions, to comprehensively evaluate any scenario. Others feel comfortable presenting ideas to you or conveying their thoughts because they know that you withhold judgement and are exceptionally reasonable.

14. You’re compassionate

No good leader is careless in their regard for others. You understand where others are coming from and demonstrate genuine empathy when a burdensome event crosses their path. You often seek to help, are a good listener, and you pour your half-full glass into their half-empty glass.

15. You’re charismatic

Most notable in cult leaders, this characteristic flows into any form of leadership. You have a surge of energy constantly flowing through you that infects others and gets them on board. Your enthusiastic approach to any issue reflects your genuine desire in life – your spark.

16. You’re virtuous

What cult leaders and dictators have in charisma, they lack in genuine virtue. You’re the good guy or gal that exercises every form of virtue known to man: courage, honesty, morality, righteousness. Your sincere display of these qualities quickly lets others know that you always have good intention and are one to respect.

17. You know how to read others

You’re socially aware – you can tell if others are lying to you or misleading you. You know how to read emotions, how to effectively judge a book by its cover. You constantly make an effort to learn about how those around you work, and to comprehend tendencies and understand behaviors.

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18. You can handle criticism

In fact, you need it every now and then. You thrive on the feedback of others. Whether or not you adopt it is your call, but you definitely do not let it eat at you. If anything, it motivates you.

19. You’re humble

You joke more about yourself than you do about others. You admit your faults and embrace your mistakes and in turn, learn from them. You understand that your needs are not more important than those of others.

20. You’re optimistic

No great leader came to be a success with a pessimistic attitude – pragmatic, maybe, but not entirely negative. You have far-seeing aspirations that carry you towards attaining your goals and you can often employ a positive outlook on a negative circumstance.

21. You’re creative

You think far outside the box, as you approach problems with your own original thought. You’re an idea person, a visionary. You seek to innovate rather than work under the status quo.

22. You’re self-reliant

You don’t need others to supervise your work or to validate your efforts. You act on your own initiative and rely on your own instinct. You criticize yourself before others may get the chance. You have all the tools you need to make sure you’re successful and you don’t frequently look to others to get you where you want to go.

23. You know when to admit defeat

A great leader shouldn’t lose too often, but when they do, they accept it. It may sting, but you understand that it’s just part of the process and that, try as you might, you can’t win ’em all. In other words, you’re not a sore loser.

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24. You’re willing to be accountable for the actions of others

When someone has to bite the bullet, you step up. You throw yourself over the grenade. War-themed sayings have been invented to effectively describe accountability. It’s an explosive thing, and you know how to handle it.

25. You’re likable

And lastly, people just seem to like you, and that’s likely due to the fact that you possess many of the aforementioned characteristics. You find that, because of who you are, you’re well-respected and admired by others.

If you find that you possess a majority of these characteristics, then all signs point to your potential to one day become a great leader. Remember that working on yourself is only half the battle, and that those around you matter more towards your subsequent success.

“Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” – Beth Revis

More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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