We often feel that to be a leader you need to be born a leader, or be drawn to leadership, or have a leader-ly position.
We think of leadership as a title that has to be deserved or earned.
But leaders are rarely, if ever, born. If we had to isolate a factor that creates leaders, it's probably some combination of circumstance and persistence.
Many, many leaders walk among us--in all kinds of people, places and positions.
Some of the greatest leaders you'll ever meet aren't even aware of their own leadership.
Here are 10 signs that you may be one of them:
1. You have an open mind and seek out other people's opinions. If people are drawn to you because you are open to others people's opinions, you are a leader.
2. You offer advice and counsel. If you find yourself advising your colleagues, and your friends are asking you to counsel them--if people seem to seek out and value what you say--then your empathy is strong and your perspective has real-world usefulness to those around you. If you often help those around you navigate their rough patches, you are a leader.
3. People count on you. If people rely on you, it follows that they trust you to follow through and deliver on your promises. If you hold yourself accountable and demonstrate the kind of day-in, day-out responsibility that leads others to trust you, you are a leader.
4. You're a good listener and people confide in you. Being able to listen to others, having people speak to you frankly without worrying about who you'll tell or how you might use that knowledge against them, are signs of strong leadership--not to mention of being a nice person. If you understand that listening is more important than speaking, and if people know they can confide in you, you are a leader.
5. Others follow your example. The most powerful form of leadership isn't persuasion or argument or force, but example. Whether times are good or bad, people notice who's present, who's effective, who's working hard without distraction. When that person is you, others naturally follow you--and you are a leader.
6. You insist on excellence. As Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do, and therefore excellence is not an act but a habit. When you are in the habit of standing up for excellence and you hold yourself and those around you responsible for quality, you are telling others that you act rather than talk, show rather than say, deliver rather than promise. If you are not making excuses or blaming others but holding up the standard of excellence and quality, you are a leader.
7. You have a positive attitude. Positive, optimistic people make people around them happy. A positive outlook doesn't blind you to problems or issues but allows you to seek out something good in almost every situation and to know that eventually things will be all right. It's the kind of spirit that keeps people motivated and spreads optimism, and it means you are a leader.
8. You treat people with respect. Knowledge may give you power, being smart may give you an advantage, but when you give respect you will always receive respect in return. If you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect them for who they are, it's likely that they hold you in high esteem and that you are a leader.
9. You genuinely care about others. If you spend time supporting, guiding and sharing your knowledge with those around you, giving them the opportunity to achieve success, and if you care about their well-being and do all you can to help them attain their own success, you are a leader.
10. You are confident and passionate. Most people are always watching each other, looking for cues about how to behave. Being confident means moving with assurance, being passionate about what you believe and refusing to let anything get in your way. If you work consistently toward a cause with vision and confidence, you are a leader.
Are you failing to see something important within yourself? Weigh yourself against these traits, reconsider what you think you know, and recognize yourself for the leader you may really be.