10 signs you have the personality of a leader, not a follower

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Leadership isn’t about bossing people around; it’s about inspiring others to follow your lead. And it’s not always the loudest voice in the room that signifies a leader; sometimes, it’s the quiet confidence that speaks volumes.

Leadership is a quality that sets you apart from the crowd. It’s not always about being at the front, but about how you handle yourself and others.

So how can you tell if you’re a leader, not a follower?

Let me share with you ten telltale signs that you possess the personality of a leader. These signs will give you clues about your inherent leadership qualities. And remember, it’s less about power and more about influence.

Stick around for an enlightening read.

1) You’re not afraid of responsibility

Leadership can feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders. It requires making important decisions and being accountable for the outcomes. Some people shy away from this, preferring to let others steer the ship.

But if you’re a natural leader, you won’t shy away from responsibility. Rather, you’ll embrace it. You understand that making tough decisions and taking ownership of the results, good or bad, comes with the territory.

It’s not about being power-hungry; it’s about stepping up and doing what needs to be done, even when it’s challenging. This is a key trait of a leader – they don’t pass the buck or place blame on others. They shoulder accountability and lead by example.

If you find yourself regularly stepping up to take charge and take responsibility, then chances are, you’ve got the personality of a leader.

2) You inspire others

Inspiring others is a key trait of a leader. It’s not just about having great ideas, but also about getting others excited about those ideas and eager to join you.

This reminds me of a time when I was working on a project with a team. We had hit a roadblock and morale was low. I knew we had the ability to overcome the challenge, but we needed a morale boost.

I called for a team meeting and shared my vision for the project, emphasizing the impact it would have once completed. I also highlighted the unique skills each team member brought to the table and how crucial they were to our success.

The energy in the room shifted. The team left feeling empowered and re-energized, ready to tackle the project head-on.

It was a clear reminder that leaders inspire others not just by talking about goals but also by acknowledging the value each person brings to achieving those goals. If you naturally find yourself inspiring those around you, it’s another sign of your leadership personality.

3) You’re a good listener

Many people assume that leaders are always the ones talking, dictating instructions, and sharing their thoughts. But a key characteristic of a true leader is their ability to listen.

Listening is more than just hearing words. It’s about understanding the underlying emotions, needs, and desires of those speaking. And it’s not just about being silent while others talk; it’s about engaging, asking insightful questions, and showing genuine interest in the responses.

In fact, research shows that leaders who listen are rated as significantly more effective than those who dominate the conversation. They foster trust, encourage open communication, and empower their team members to contribute their ideas.

So if you find yourself leaning in, genuinely interested in what others have to say, then you’re displaying one of the most impactful traits of a leader.

4) You’re comfortable with uncertainty

In a leadership role, the road ahead is often filled with unknowns. Predictability is a luxury that leaders seldom have. However, it’s the ability to navigate through this uncertainty that sets a true leader apart.

Leaders are comfortable with ambiguity. They don’t panic when the path isn’t clear; instead, they remain calm, collected, and focused on finding the best way forward. They’re open to new ideas and aren’t afraid to take calculated risks.

Being comfortable with uncertainty means having the confidence to make decisions without having all the answers. It’s about trusting your instincts and your team, and being flexible enough to adapt when situations change.

If you’re someone who remains steady in the face of uncertainty and views it as an opportunity rather than a setback, then you have one of the essential traits of a leader.

5) You’re proactive, not reactive

Leaders don’t just react to situations, they anticipate and prepare for them. Being proactive means thinking ahead, planning for the future, and taking actions to prevent problems before they occur.

As a leader, it’s not enough to simply respond to events as they happen. You need to be one step ahead, identifying potential obstacles and opportunities, and making strategic decisions accordingly.

Being proactive also involves taking the initiative to improve things, even when everything seems fine. It’s about constantly seeking ways to enhance performance, efficiency, and overall success.

If you find that you’re naturally the kind of person who thinks ahead, takes initiative, and doesn’t just wait for things to happen, then you’re displaying a significant leadership trait.

6) You genuinely care about others

At the heart of true leadership is genuine care and concern for others. Leaders aren’t just focused on achieving goals and driving results; they deeply care about the wellbeing of their team members.

Being a leader is about more than just guiding a group to success; it’s about nurturing individual growth and creating an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

Leaders take the time to understand their team members’ aspirations, strengths, and weaknesses. They celebrate their wins, support them in their struggles, and always have their backs.

If you find that you naturally empathize with others, celebrate their successes as your own, and feel a deep sense of responsibility towards their growth and happiness – then you possess a trait that makes you a truly remarkable leader.

7) You’re not afraid to admit when you’re wrong

Nobody’s perfect, not even leaders. We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. What sets leaders apart is their ability to admit when they’re wrong and take steps to rectify their mistakes.

I remember a time when I made a decision that didn’t pan out as expected. It was a difficult moment, as I had been so confident about the decision initially. But instead of trying to justify it or blame others, I admitted my mistake.

Admitting my error wasn’t a sign of weakness; it was an act of strength. It showed my team that I valued truth and transparency over ego. It also opened the door for us to learn from the mistake and move forward stronger than before.

If you can swallow your pride, admit when you’re wrong and use it as a learning opportunity, then you have another key trait of a great leader.

8) You know when to follow

While it might seem contradictory, great leaders understand that they don’t always have to lead. Sometimes, the best thing a leader can do is follow.

Leadership isn’t about always being in the spotlight or having all the answers. It’s about recognizing the strengths and expertise of those around you and stepping back when it’s their time to shine.

Whether it’s allowing a team member to take the lead on a project they’re passionate about, or seeking advice from others with more experience in a particular area, knowing when to step back and follow is a sign of strength and humility.

So, if you find yourself comfortable stepping back and letting others take the lead when necessary, then you possess another significant trait of an effective leader.

9) You’re constantly learning and growing

Leaders are lifelong learners. They understand that there is always room for growth, and they continuously seek opportunities to learn and improve.

Leadership isn’t a destination; it’s a journey of continuous development. This growth mindset enables leaders to adapt to new challenges, embrace change, and always strive to be better.

This can take the form of reading books, attending workshops, seeking feedback, or simply staying curious about new ideas and perspectives.

If you have a thirst for knowledge and a desire for self-improvement, then you’re displaying yet another key characteristic of a successful leader.

10) You lead by example

The most influential leaders don’t just tell others what to do; they show them. They embody the values they preach, and their actions align with their words.

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. And these come from leading by example, not commanding from the top.

Whether it’s commitment, integrity, work ethic, or any other value, great leaders demonstrate these through their actions. They understand that they set the tone for their team, and they take that responsibility seriously.

If you naturally find yourself walking the talk and setting a positive example for others to follow, then you truly possess the personality of a leader.

Final thought: Leadership is a journey

The essence of leadership is not embodied in a singular trait or characteristic. It’s an amalgamation of various attributes, behaviors, and attitudes.

One fascinating aspect of leadership is that it is not confined to a genetic predisposition or a specific personality type. The truth is, leadership skills can be nurtured and cultivated.

A quote from American author John C. Maxwell captures this beautifully: “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.”

Evidently, each one of us has the potential to influence others in positive ways, to inspire action, and to make a difference. The question is, are we ready to embrace the journey of leadership?

Reflecting on these signs may have given you some insights into your own leadership potential. But remember, recognizing these qualities in yourself is just the beginning.

The real magic happens when you start nurturing these traits, when you begin your journey towards becoming the leader you’re capable of being.

Your leadership journey starts now. Where will it take you?