Great leaders are forged through professional and personal experiences, challenges, triumphs and failures. But even if you haven’t had much life experience at all, there are certain characteristics that display strong leadership potential. Here are six of them.
- You listen and communicate effectively
If you’re someone who listens to others – really listens – and lets people speak to you without interrupting them or letting your mind wander, you’re showing leadership. Because you understand that listening is more important than speaking, and people know you hear what they’re saying to you. You also communicate intelligently by offering your insights and sharing your knowledge. Potential leaders understand that the more they share, the more they get back.
- You lead only when you have to
You’re not an attention-grabber. We’ve all met the type of person who always has to be front-and-center. People like this are often described as “natural born leaders”, but nothing could be further from the truth. True leaders don’t take charge every time two or more people get together. Real leaders assess each situation and only take charge when their position, the situation, and/or the needs of the moment demand it. Good leaders know their areas of expertise: they work for the good of the project and not themselves. They know when to stand aside and hand over the baton.
- You acknowledge the contributions of others
When a goal has been reached, others often tend to place credit on the team leader. An ordinary person might take advantage of that tendency to take credit for successes that rightfully belong to someone else. But a true leader always shines the spotlight on the individuals who did the legwork. Leaders say “we” when speaking of triumphs. Not “I”. Unless it’s to say “I’m so proud of my great team”. True leaders know they’re nothing without the people around them and they’re not afraid of showing it. Understanding this and feeling comfortable with it early in their career is a powerful trait.
- You know when to ask for help
You can’t be a good leader if you don’t know how to ask for assistance. Because the one character trait all leaders share is the knowledge that they don’t know everything. You might know how to develop the world’s most advanced applications, but how about managing a budget? Or dealing with end users? As you mature, you’re going to be involved with projects and teams of all types and sizes. And no matter what the topic, you’ll feel at ease even when you’re not the expert as long as you’re comfortable asking for assistance.
- You inspire others to achieve
There’s always someone in the office or on a team who gets noticed, who’s effective, who works hard without distraction. If that person is you, others will naturally follow you. And there you have it: you’re a leader. A great leader’s passion, drive, and commitment are contagious. They inspire those around them to perform better, and they bring out the best in everyone on their teams. An ability to inspire others to work harder and aim higher is a great indicator of serious leadership potential.
- Your positivity is contagious
No matter how dire the situation, truly good leaders always remain positive. You’ve surely already learned that failure is an integral part of success, so taking the “downs” gracefully, along with the “ups”, is essential to becoming a trusted leader. If you have a knack for generating enthusiasm for the work you do, and if your positivity is contagious, it will reflect not only on the work you do today, but on the work your team will be doing, down the road ahead, when you really are leading them.