Great leaders share many common traits; traits that you and I probably have, too. For one thing, they are human. They have made mistakes and failed; they have overcome disappointment, heartache, tragedy, and grief. No great leader has ever been able to escape the roller coaster ride of life.
Warren Bennis said:
The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.
Becoming a great leader is a work in progress. There are a number of events that occur in the life of a leader where they were required to act on specific personal qualities or traits that enabled them to lead people to achieve successful outcomes.
I believe that everybody has the potential to be a great leader within themselves.
Nelson Mandela is an example of a person who had a personal philosophy and mindset that enabled him to become a great leader. He didn’t think he was anyone special, however, when placed in a situation where he would be tested and isolated from life, his personal philosophy became the mantra from which he became a great leader.
You may not know it, but you hold the beliefs, attitudes, and traits that are of leadership quality. Here are thirteen signs that you have the mindset of a leader. If you “unleashed” your leadership mindset, there is no doubt that you would become the “great leader” you were born to be.
1. You Are a Realist and an Optimist
You accept that life is unique, and it is what it is. You like to deal with the reality of life, however, because you are an optimist, you have hope for the future and a positive outlook on life.
You believe that there will always be a way to sort out any situation you may face in life. Your optimistic view of life is contagious and a source of positive energy for those around you.
These are great qualities to have as a leader, as leaders need to be positive and hopeful but also accept what will be, will be.
2. You Love to Learn
You are always open to learning new things; in fact, you actively search for new knowledge and information that can enhance your abilities to be a better person. You also love to learn from others, and you will actively search out and connect with people who you can watch and learn from.
Your love of learning is definitely a leadership quality. A good leader never stops learning. They never turn down the opportunity to learn new things. Like you, leaders are open to the fact that the opportunity to learn can come at any time. It could come from a university lecturer, the person who makes their coffee or sells them a newspaper. Your love of learning sets you on the pathway to being a great leader.
3. You Are a Good Listener
You know when you are a good listener because people come to you to ask for your advice or to share their problems. They know that when they talk to you, you make them feel that they have been heard and valued.
You don’t like to do a lot of talking when you are listening to a person because that distracts you from getting to the core of the issue or problem that is being discussed.
Richard Branson says,
We have two ears and one mouth, using them in proportion is not a bad idea!
The conversations you have with these people are not about you and you understand that. You may know the answer about how this person could solve the problem, however, your focus is guiding and advising the person as to how they can come to their own solution or plan of action.
Richard Branson believes that a person who is a great listener has the ability to be a great leader. It is a key requirement.
4. You Always See Potential in Others
You love people, and you connect easily with all types of people. You also operate intuitively and can very quickly recognize the potential abilities of people you meet.
You see the potential for personal leadership in others and will encourage and support those people to take up any opportunity to unleash their potential.
5. You Are a Kind Person
You have empathy for people and can very quickly tune in to how they are feeling. You do not believe that by showing kindness that you are being weak. In fact, you see it as a strength because by being empathetic and kind to others means that you are living your values and that is very important to you.
Being kind to others is an integral part of your life philosophy, and this is what makes you a great leader.
6. You Are Resourceful
You have this amazing ability to use whatever you are given to make the best of a situation. People look to you as the person who can take them out of a crisis because you always seem to find a way.
You are prepared to ask for favors, work hard, stay focused, be honest, and ask for help. You have the ability to see and prepare for the future because you embrace the concept of change.
John Quincy Adams said:
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.
To you, change is a constant part of life, and you just go with it. This is a key quality for a leader to have because to be resourceful, you have to be motivated to act quickly – procrastination is like a swear word to you.
7. You Are a Good Communicator
You know who you are, what you stand for, and can clearly articulate to others your thoughts and opinions. Speaking your truth is important, however, you are also very aware of how others receive your message.
You are quite strategic in how you deliver what can be received as “unwelcome news.” Your intention is always to communicate even if it is a difficult message with heartfelt intent, and you strive to ensure that those receiving the message feel and clearly understand your intent and what you are saying to them.
There is no confusion, misunderstanding, or unclear expectations when you are communicating with others because you work hard to ensure that all parties are on the same page.
8. You Create and Maintain Great Relationships
You enjoy being around people, and you surround yourself with people who challenge, inspire, teach, support, and encourage you. You are a great networker because you love connecting to people.
Family and friends are very important to you, and you work hard to have flourishing relationships.
People see you as someone who is reliable, honest, and trustworthy – you keep your word and are not into the drama of life. That’s just not your style. You avoid relationships with people who lead lives that are full of drama and negativity – their energy drags you down.
You love the positive energy that your relationships give you, as it is this energy that fires you up, inspires and motivates you. This is such an important quality for a leader to have, and you have it! Congratulations.
9. You Like to Have Fun and Celebrate
If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try some thing else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured and your business will flourish. A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life. – Richard Branson
This is how Richard Branson lives his life, and you follow a similar philosophy. Enjoying what you do in your life both professionally and personally is important to you, and you just love to have fun. You also love to celebrate your successes and other people’s successes.
Your optimism and outlook on life is a source of positive energy, and it’s contagious. People really enjoy being around you because you inspire and motivate them with your energy, enthusiasm, and love of life.
People always feel good when they engage and connect with you; a wonderful quality that sets you up to be an incredible leader.
10. You Are Self Aware and Confident
You know who you are, what you are good at, and what you are not so good at. You accept that you are accountable for your own actions and behaviors.
You’re not into the blame game and will admit you are wrong or have made a mistake with no hesitation. You spend a lot of time getting to know yourself so that you can be a better person.
You are really comfortable working with others who are more skilled than you because it means the job will get done – probably to a better standard than if you had tried to complete the task alone.
You know your strengths and your weaknesses and are not afraid to share these aspects. You know when you can help and when you need help, and as a result, you appear to others as a confident, articulate, and empathetic person.
11. You Are Prepared to Take a Stand for What You Believe
You know who you are and what you believe in, and you make sure that those around you know also. You’re not afraid to speak your mind. You also believe it is important to do what you believe is right.
You are committed to your values, and you live your life according to those values. You respect diversity and difference, however, you do not tolerate injustice, intolerance, or the abuse of others.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. – Eleanor Roosevelt
People feel inspired by your commitment and passion and will seek to connect and engage with you. This is a key quality of a great and courageous leader. It takes courage to stand up and speak out for those who are too afraid to.
12. You Tend Not to Panic in Difficult Situations
By staying calm in times of crisis, you demonstrate a key leadership quality. When you are able to stay calm in a crisis situation you maintain the ability to reason, to be effective, to have empathy, and to connect to how you feel.
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. – Publilius Syrus
This quote illustrates when good leaders shine – which is effectively leading in challenging and tough times. An individual who panics can not act or respond with consideration. They can only react and respond in the heat of the moment. You do not operate this way because you know that irrational and reactive behavior does not produce effective and reasonable solutions.
13. You Are a Solution-Based Thinker Who Likes to Think Outside of the Square
You are future-orientated in your thinking, and that means that you like to look outside of the square to search for solutions. Forget the problem you say, let’s look at what solutions are out there for us to consider and how we can solve the problem.
You have the ability to see and prepare for the future because you embrace the concept of change. To you, change is a constant part of life, and you prepare for it and just go with it.
You enjoy the challenge of thinking outside of the square because it requires you to be creative and innovative, and that’s when you feel the most energized and inspired.
People feel your passion and energy – it is contagious, and people love you for it! When you are in this space you are operating as the great leader you were born to be.
I think leadership comes from integrity – that you do whatever you ask others to do. I think there are non-obvious ways to lead. Just by providing a good example as a parent, a friend, a neighbour makes it possible for other people to see better ways to do things. Leadership does not need to be a dramatic, fist in the air and trumpets blaring, activity. – Scott Berkun