There are two distinct kinds of people: Those who loved group projects in school and those who abhorred them. If you fall into the latter class, it’s probably because you’d rather create a detailed diorama of the entire city of New York than spend five minutes with your classmates trying to navigate that complicated dynamic.
On the other hand, you might have adored the opportunity to take charge and lead a group of your peers. It gave you the opportunity to shine, tell the world what you know and assign tasks like the true boss you are. If this sounds like you, read on. You may be a natural-born leader, even if you haven’t fully exercised those skills since your middle school days.
If you find yourself with the itch to stand out and take charge, this might be an inclination that you’re destined to be at the helm of something really great. Today, we’re taking a look at five signs that leadership runs strong in your bloodstream and you’re ready to chase that giant dream into reality.
1. You hold tight to your character.
Wait, shouldn’t the first sign that you’re a leader be that you’re comfortable filling this role and love to direct others? Not so fast. The cornerstone of great leadership is the ability to stay true to oneself and make decisions with character and integrity rather than chasing the spotlight.
In reality, anyone can get up on stage or behind a microphone and proclaim to “lead.” Where real leaders distinguish themselves is in their ability to separate attention and success from their ultimate purpose. If you’re only in it to claim the credit or get the applause, it’s likely you’re less of a natural-born leader and more of a natural-born performer.
Conversely, if you can stick to your ethics and maintain your moral compass even when it causes some people to fall back or leave from under your command, you’re taking a huge step in the right direction. Every great leader has a strong backbone and bending with every suggestion or turn of trend is the quickest way to snap.
2. You know how to share the credit.
This one can be difficult, especially for those who are leading for all of the wrong reasons. If you’re able to share the spotlight and give others the credit they’re due, you may be a natural leader after all. This goes along with the issue of integrity. Trying to hog the fame is a sure sign that you’re only leading to reap the rewards.
You should be willing to step up to the plate even if no one lavishly rewards your efforts or makes over the outcome. Motivating others and leading them toward success should be a primary aim, not to see your name in lights. Of course, this isn’t to say that leaders should be doormats. However, it’s one thing to demand respect and appreciation, and another to expect attention around every corner and snuff others out in the process.
Are you eager to recognize those who work hard to help out with the group effort? Do you reward them and make them feel appreciated? If so, you’re the kind of leader people want on their team. They’re more likely to listen to you and work to earn your approval, and that respect and recognition is worth more than any public praise, any day.
3. You know that no one is an island.
In short, you’re not afraid to ask for help when you need it. We all know someone who, as soon as they’re given a leadership position, take it and run with it, never looking behind or around them for assistance. What inevitably happens? It isn’t long before they’re in over their heads, unable to stay afloat.
A key part of being a natural-born leader is knowing when to go at a task solo, and when to enlist the support of others around you. No one is great at absolutely everything, but most of us have a few talents and knacks up our sleeves. If you’re hesitant to call upon someone who might be better-versed or experienced in a field than you, even when it will make the overall project stronger, you’re only in it for yourself.
Yet, if you’re willing to put aside any selfish thoughts and humble yourself enough to recruit some assistance along the way, you’ll find that it’s not a sign of weakness. Rather, it showcases your ability to delegate, trust and pool together resources to ensure success. And, that’s a definite sign of a true leader.
4. You’re insanely detail-oriented.
You may find a great leader with stacks of papers on their desk, files in every corner of the room and a general sense of chaos around them, but if you ask them the exact time a particular deliverable is due or what that email sent last Thursday said, they can rattle off the answer in a heartbeat.
That’s because, though it might be difficult to tell on the outside in some cases, natural leaders are detail-oriented to a fault. They store most of the information in their heads, on their smart devices and yes, deep in those messy desk drawers. They double check the rules and requirements and dig deep into the fine print of every area of their lives, from their wedding to their lunch meetings.
Attention to detail is an important skill to have because it ensures that nothing gets missed. Leaders aren’t just responsible for making sure their work gets done. They also have to oversee the efforts of others and doing so requires a thorough knowledge of everyone’s schedule, timelines, issues, connections and more.
5. You can stay positive.
No one expects you to slather a plastic smile on your face and keep it there all day long. Leaders especially know that sometimes, there are days when it feels like nothing is going right, the project will never be completed and the deadline will never be met. When these times happen, it’s OK to show that you’re frustrated. The only difference? A natural-born leader understands that their actions and behavior directly influence those around them.
So, you know better than to throw your laptop across the room or shove all of the papers off of your desk in a fit of rage. You’re able to see the silver lining, even if it’s the faintest one ever. You motivate and encourage and cheer your teammates on, even when the course ahead seems bleak. You’re cognizant of your reactions and while you’re only human, you do your best to be the source of strength and the well of inspiration that your peers need.
Stepping into Your Leadership Role
After reading through these, are you ready to take the next step and embrace your natural-born leadership abilities? If so, it’s important to pace yourself. Especially if you’ve never taken on this kind of role before, you may be tempted to jump into a group scenario immediately. Doing so too quickly can leave you overwhelmed and under-staffed, treading to stay afloat amid tightening pressure and expectations.
Rather, consider easing into this new talent. Take on a little more responsibility at work, or volunteer to lead a small project with your local community group. Over time, as you grow more comfortable taking charge and giving direction, you’ll be more inclined to take on heftier assignments. In the meantime, work on honing your abilities. Listen more, brush up on your public speaking skills and find a mentor who’s walked in your shoes. You’ll grow in confidence and professionalism and it won’t be long before you’re ready to step up to the plate.