20 Signs You’re a Born Leader
For some, it's earned. For other, it's innate.
Some people become leaders after years of displaying hard work and tempered tenacity. But for others, taking the reigns just comes naturally, as if their personalities set them up for success long ago.
For instance, look for the person in your office who is outgoing and confident, and you’ll likely find that they also command a natural following. Or what about your friend who’s always finagling with a to-do-list app? Chances are, they’re in an exalted role at work, too. If you’ve ever wondered about your own leadership stature, and whether yours is earned or innate, look no further. We’ve rounded up all the surefire personality indicators that make for a natural-born leader. And for ways to rise up the ranks, read up on the 20 Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Make You a Better Leader.
You exude confidence like a lightbulb emits heat.
Confidence is contagious, especially in the workplace. In fact, one study from the University of Texas at San Antonio found that confident leaders make for confident employees. As study author Dina Krasikova explained to Science Daily: “When you feel stressed, you feel helpless and your productivity and creativity is diminished, [and] many times this originates with the leader. When leaders feel confident that they can produce creative outcomes, their subordinates become more creative.” And to act like the leader you were born to be, try these 70 Genius Tricks to Boost Your Confidence.
You believe in a greater good.
A born leader goes to work every day not because they have to, but because they want to. “[Good leaders] advocate for something bigger than themselves; they have a cause,” leadership strategist Marlyne Pierce explained to Thrive Global. Their desire to fulfill their goals and find meaning drives them to work hard and do the best they can in every aspect of their lives.
You work as hard as everyone else.
When people think of Fortune 500 CEOs, the picture that comes to mind is a suit who enters the office once a week just to show face. But effective CEOs are nothing like this. On the contrary, good leaders are just like new employees—that is to say, they’re the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave. They know that the hard work never stops, and that everyone needs to contribute in order for things to get done.
You’re constantly learning.
Do you have a tendency to reread books because you want to absorb all the information the pages have to offer? This might be a sign that you were born to lead, as natural leaders have a tendency to seek out knowledge in order to constantly improve. Whether they’re learning about their field or just absorbing knowledge for the sake of absorbing knowledge, leaders appreciate the importance of expanding their minds.
You know people like the back of your hand.
It’s difficult to effectively dictate when you know nothing about the people who work for you. Every good leader takes the time to get to know the people on their team, because, as Motus Global CEO Joe Nolan said, “you can know your mission and vision, but it is equally, if not more, important to know your people.” The more you know about your employees, the more you can utilize their skills and strong suits in the workplace (and avoid their weaknesses).
You have visions for the future.
Born leaders work hard to accomplish their immediate tasks, but they are also always thinking three steps ahead.”Vision/direction is the leadership part of servant leadership,” leadership expert Ken Blanchard explained on his blog. A true leader understands that their employees are looking to them for guidance, which means that they need to have a clear idea of where they’re going at all times. And speaking of visionaries, check out the 20 Craziest Ways People Have Made $1 Million.
You pay attention to how others are feeling.
Your employees are only human beings, and so naturally they are going to experience a plethora of emotions throughout the day. But what separates the born leaders from the ineffective bosses is whether you acknowledge your employees’ feelings and try to work through them. As Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, explained to SUCCESS: “These little considerations for others have a building effect. The daily practice of putting the well-being of others first has a compounding and reciprocal effect in relationships, in friendships, [and] in the way we treat our clients and our colleagues.”
You live for lists.
A leader loves to stay organized with to-do lists, both for work and personal tasks. At the end of the week, nothing gives this put-together pioneer a greater sense of satisfaction than looking back at said lists to reflect on activities accomplished—and to brainstorm ways to do better next week. And if you’re not quite as compartmentalized as you’d like to be, try these 65 Genius Ways to Organize Your Life.
You stay humble.
Nobody likes a person who’s constantly bragging about their accomplishments, and that’s especially true in the workplace. What makes someone a good leader is their ability to succeed without letting it get to their head. In fact, one Norwegian study of more than 1,500 leaders found that employees are more committed to managers who are humble and have a good sense of self-awareness.
You surround yourself with uplifting people.
Leaders only fraternize with positive people. “You are the average of the five people you associate with most,” leadership expert Tim Ferriss told Talent Plus. “Do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.” And to make sure you’re not the Negative Nancy in the friend group, watch out for the 23 Surefire Signs You’re Too Negative.
You employ positive reinforcement.
Every leader knows that positive reinforcement encourages employees to work even harder. As Jeremy Kingsley, author of Leadership is Not a Hobby, notes on his blog, “Full appreciation for work done” is one of the top three best motivators in the workplace, and managers and bosses who are already thanking their employees for a job well done are the true trailblazers. And for ways to excel in the office, don’t miss the 20 Best Ways to Be More Mindful at Work.
You maintain a positive attitude.
Things aren’t always going to go smoothly at your place of work. But when things go south, a true leader will keep calm and carry on, and in turn so will their employees. In fact, one study led by researchers at the University of Central Florida found that positive people are perceived as transformational leaders, or people who are skilled at inspiring and uplifting their coworkers.
“When you’re giving a speech to a room and you have difficulty being positive, it’s difficult to inspire and motivate the audience,” study author Dana Joseph, Ph.D., said. “Positive affect allows people to be inspirational, motivational, and respectful of their followers.” And to infuse a little more optimism into your life, try these 15 Body Positive Affirmations That Actually Work.
When it comes to being the boss, it’s okay—nay, encouraged—to be boring. Employees want to be able to go to work every day without worrying about whether their boss is going to be in a bad mood. As business psychologist Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic wrote in the Harvard Business Review: “[T]he best managers in the world tend to be stable rather than excitable, consistent rather than erratic, as well as polite and considerate.”
You have integrity.
As Warren Buffet once said: “Look for three things in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. If they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother.” And billionaire Buffet was right on the money when he said this, especially when it comes to being a leader.
When Dr. Fred Kiel analyzed 84 CEOs over a seven-year period for his book, Return On Character, he found that those with high integrity had multi-year returns of 9.4 percent, whereas low-integrity CEOs had returns of just 1.9 percent. Plus, employee participation was 26 percent greater at organizations with high-integrity CEOs at the helm.
You respect others.
Look for the person at dinner who treats the waiter with consideration and respect, and you’ve found your leader. They treat everyone as equals, and this pays off for them on a professional level. One study of almost 20,000 employees conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that employees who felt respected by their seniors reported 89 percent more enjoyment and 92 percent more focus at work.
Respect is rare in the workplace, but if it’s something you give to your employees, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done. And for more ways to foster a prolific work environment, try these 60 Best 60-Second Productivity Hacks.
You admit when you’ve messed up.
A little bit of humility goes a long way—but if you’re a born leader, then you probably already know this. Naturally, employees appreciate superiors who take their feedback into consideration and, above all else, can admit when they’re wrong.
“We should own up to what we do,” How to Not Suck as a Manager author Arron Grow told Fast Company. “Sometimes it’s good to share that with others—that we’re not infallible.”
People value your opinion.
Important execs are constantly seeking second opinions from those whom they perceive to be good leaders. If your boss, or even your boss’ boss, is always stopping at your desk to ask for your thoughts on a new project or potential hire, then your superiors are definitely taking note of your leadership skills.
You’re an extrovert.
Natural leaders are also natural extroverts, as extroversion assists in everything from teamwork to effective communication. And as researchers at the University of Notre Dame found, extroversion is the single best indicator of leadership abilities, with sociability and dominance in particular being the factors that single a person out for success. If you are an extrovert, just make sure to carve out some you time, since Spending Time Alone Is Essential for Your Health.
You always ask questions.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it didn’t kill the leader. Those in leadership roles are naturally curious, and they seldom leave a meeting before they’ve asked at least a few questions. After all, every moment is a chance to learn something new, and a born leader would never turn down the opportunity to expand their brain. And for an easy way to soak up some information right now, read the 100 Facts That Will Make You Say “Wow!”
You second-guess yourself.
According to the Small Business Association of Michigan, all effective leaders know that they can never trust their first assumptions. “While great leaders are typically highly intelligent, they are smart enough to know that they can always learn something new,” American Society of Employers CEO Mary Corrado wrote. “Great leaders will always seek opinions outside of their own to gain new perspectives.” And if you want to successfully lead yourself, try these 25 Work from Home Jobs with High Salaries.
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