There are leaders, and then there are people who think they are leaders. How can you separate the sheep from the goats?

Well, if you spent some time around someone worthy of the title of a leader, you would notice some clear, telltale signs, within minutes, that would tell you, "This person is leadership material."

Here are five signs I have personally witnessed:

1. They show up with their true selves.

In my interview with Rich Sheridan on the Love In Action podcast, the CEO and Chief Storyteller of Menlo Innovations, and author of Chief Joy Officer challenges us to stop wearing masks and be the same person at home and at work. He says, "To develop ourselves as leaders we need to bring ourselves to work. Our whole selves, trouble and all." Usually, you can tell within minutes in a conversation or meeting if a leader is being real and not wearing the overbearing "boss" mask: She's humble, praises people, takes feedback with an open mind, and listens before speaking.

2. They don't run from conflict.

Tony Libardi, president and chief operating officer of Marco's Franchising, which operates the international pizza chain Marco's Pizza, actually encourages more conflict at work. Libardi holds "conflict sessions" to welcome many differing opinions around a tough issue, like underperforming stores. He says without these conflict sessions in place to hear others' points of view, "we might have missed something awesome." This is unlike many bosses who, within minutes of a tense meeting, will deflect responsibility to work through an issue and miss the opportunity to lead with courage and authenticity.   

3. They ask employees about their goals.

Good leaders make it a priority to get to know their employees. In one-on-one meetings, they waste no time asking them about their goals, strengths, and interests--both short and long-term--and they'll remember them. It's easy to lose sight of the important things that matter to valued employees when people are entrenched in the day-to-day grind. 

4. They think positive.

Leaders have the utmost responsibility to uplift and encourage others around them. This requires a positive and resilient frame of mind, which is visible within seconds in personal exchanges, meetings, and even written emails. Take careful note of your boss' attitude. Does he walk around with a perpetual dark cloud over his head, flinging around negative remarks and barking orders? Negative thoughts are landmines exploding on the pathway to being your best. On the contrary, leaders who nurture positive thoughts empower others to do the same.

Published on: Apr 30, 2019
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