21 Signs You’re Ready To Lead

You may or may not realize it but you’re most likely ready to lead. In fact, you’re probably leading already and don’t even realize it.

Check out these 21 signs you’re ready to lead and see if they describe you.

Taking the leadership plunge

Image by Jon Rawlinson

1. You notice others skills and abilities: Leaders have a keen eye for people and their talents. They’re able to see the abilities of others and place them in the proper position.

2. You decide where to have dinner: Most people will brush this off as inconsequential. In fact, it’s quite important. You’re taking a leadership role among your friends. You’re also influencing the decisions they’re making.

3. You share resources: Great leaders know they’re goal is to raise up others to new levels. You help others achieve new heights by sharing exceptional learning material.

4. You tell the truth: You’re not afraid of offending others by telling the truth. Leaders must be willing to tell others how it is.

5. You take risks: As you lead, you head into unknown territory. Doing so requires risk. If you’re risk averse, leadership can be more difficult than it already is.

6. You have boundaries: To be an effective leader, you must have boundaries within your personal and professional life. Dr. Henry Cloud shares why leaders must have boundaries in their professional life in his newest book Boundaries For Leaders.

7. You speak up: Speaking up can be uncomfortable but it has to be done.

8. You value personal growth: Every leader I know values their personal growth. Leading requires continuing education and those that are pursuing it are fit to lead.

9. You are disciplined: Discipline is a key foundation of leadership. You’ve got to be disciplined to lead others.

10. You seek counsel: Proverbs 11:16 states –  Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Wise leaders know they must seek out counsel and get advice from those that have gone before.

11. You communicate clearly: Leading a team requires clear communication from the leader. Hone your communication and lead your team with clarity.

12. You give praise to others: Your team does much of the work. Be willing to give them praise when a job is done well.

13. You take the blame for failure: When something goes wrong, leaders know they must be willing to take the blame for the team. They throw themselves under the bus and accept the blame.

14. You are likeable: People are willing to follow people they like. Even if they disagree with what they say.

15. You pay your bills on time: How you take care of your responsibilities says a lot about your character. Leadership requires character. So pay your bills on time!

16. You don’t let material things define you: You know there’s more to a person than the car that they drive or the house that they live in. You invest in what’s important, not what’s flashy.

17. You treat others with respect: Regardless of rank or position in life, you know that everyone should be treated with respect. And you do it.

18. You tell stories: Don’t think this contradicts telling the truth, not at all. Leaders know they need to connect with their followers and they do this by telling stories. They create engaging narratives to draw others into the master plan.

19. You are present: The world is full of distractions. Cell phones, email, text messages, tablet computers. Everything is calling for our attention. You know that you have to be present when you’re face-to-face with others.

20. You have passion: There’s a goal out there with your name on it and it draws out your best. You also know how to bring others together and get them excited about it. You bring passion to the table.

21.. You are willing to step aside: Sometimes leaders need to step aside from their position and let others lead. You’ve shown this ability by stepping aside in other areas of your life. Use this wisely while you’re leading.

Question: What else would you add to the list? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great thoughts, Joe. My favorite point is that leaders are passionate. Have you ever met a dispassionate leader? I have met some leaders who lacked charisma or even people skills, but I have never met a leader who lacked passion.

    • Justin, not often but there have been a few leaders that I’ve met that have lacked passion. Granted, it was at the end of that season of their leadership and you could tell they were done.

      • That’s very informative, isn’t it? When the passion fades and we’re burnt out, it’s time for new leadership to renew the passion. The leader sets the tone; a passionate leader invigorates!

        • Yup, it’s signaling it’s time to pass the baton.

  • Mr. Joe, You did it. Excellent collection. It is actually an encouraging and defining list for me. Thank you. I especially like #21. It was so unconventional when I was first introduced to the concept when one of my early employers said that good leaders replace themselves. But I think it is just right on. It’s that gift of letting go, growing, trusting others, developing others, empowering, leaving a legacy, and moving on. Thanks, Joe.

    • Arlen, thanks for the kind words. Stepping aside seems so strange and foreign yet it’s the final sign of a great leader.

  • Allen Pearson

    Excellent post Joe! All excellent and important points. I encourage personal growth to people who work with/for me. Whether it’s taking classes, taking time off to be somewhere with their child even though I will be in complete overload- whatever I can encourage that will help them grow-

    • Thanks Allen! Sounds like you’re stepping up and being a great leader.

  • Great post Joseph. For me #19 is a key. People need to know that THEY are more important than who or what is “virtually” on the other end of our devices. Nothing is more distracting during a conversation to me than when someone basically stops the flow to read a text or tweet. If the information coming into the device was so important and needed immediate attention, the person would have called. I have to believe that physical presence trumps virtual presence.

    • I’m with you Charles. There needs to be more importance placed on being there physically and mentally than we’ve previously placed on it. How are you doing that?

  • If you had left out #15, I would have all the qualities on this list! Sometimes I forget to pay my electricity bill. I am reminded when the lights go out. 🙂

    • Lorraine, it happens though and you’re cognizant of the issue. What can you do to improve in this area? (For me, it was having auto-pay setup for recurring bills)

      • I think if I had more money, it would help… Got any? LOL

        Sorry, I joke. I have never had my lights go off. In fact, light bulbs usually go on (in my head)!

  • Bill | LeadershipHeartCoaching

    Great list, Joe.

    I especially like #18 “You Tell Stories”

    I know this is not exactly the same thing, but it reminded me of something I learned to do many years ago: read to my staff during weekly staff meetings. Not entire books, but excerpts from great reads like Who Moved my Cheese or The Purple Cow.

    Okay, I know it sounds a little corny, but the engagement of discussions afterwards as to what the story meant was always phenomenal.

    • Bill, that’s an interesting habit to form for meetings. I really like it. It helps break up meetings, introduce new ideas, and allows your team to, most likely, be more open about disagreeing or sharing an opposing opinion than if it had come directly from the leader.

      What are some results you’ve seen from doing the readings?

      • Bill | LeadershipHeartCoaching

        Spot on about the openness of the team. Rather than shy away from conflict, they embrace it and work through issues. They feel safe expressing their viewpoints. Granted, it wasn’t always like this, but the team I manage has worked together for many years now and I’m proud to say- most of them time fires on all cylinders

        • That’s awesome Bill. Congrats on coming up with the idea to do this.

  • I hear all this summed up as: you do the right thing, because it is the right thing – all while focused on others more than yourself.

    great list Joe – you nailed it!

    • That’s a great summation Jon. In the end, it’s about doing right and taking care of others.

  • Pingback: 21 Signs You’re Ready To Lead – Joseph Lalonde | kwalitisme()

  • JennaDeWitt

    This is a great list!

    • Jenna, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Anything you would add?

      • JennaDeWitt

        I think this might be a side-effect of several of the others, but I would add “when your self-worth doesn’t depend on leading.” Too many young leaders (including myself once upon a time!) get promoted out of “passion” that’s really an identity need or search for self-worth.

  • Great list!

    • Thanks Jon! Anything you would add or take away?

  • Carol Peterson

    If I think hard and am honest with myself, I answer yes to most of these, except #2. That’s the hardest decision for me to make. I’m always trying to over-think it–what place would each person prefer and how do I evaluate their preferences and come to a decision that is perfect for everyone? Maybe that’s tied in with #17.

    Great list.

    LOVE your new photo–very casual.

    • It’s funny how we can do that, huh? In the end, does the choice really matter? Making the choice is what counts.

  • #21 may be the most difficult. It seems natural for us to want to go forward, but knowing when to step aside takes great courage.

    • For leaders, it can be extremely difficult. Yet when we realize the need for stepping aside and letting others take the helm, when it’s needed, can propel us and our teams further we can imagine.

  • Great list Joe! Love #19, being present. So important. I’d say being humble too.

    • Nice addition Dave. Humbleness is an important part of leadership as well.

  • I had to laugh at #2…how many times do my wife and I drive around trying to gain consensus on dinner. 99% of the time she just wants me to make the decision – but all I want is for her to get what she wants. You can display leadership at home as well as at work….great post Joe! I have been offline a lot of the last week or so, just noticed the new picture….looks great!

    • Tom, that’s why I threw #2 in the there. We waste so much time going back and forth when there are people in our lives who want us to stand up and lead. Even for something as simple as where to eat.

  • Great list, Joe. I think everyone can look around to see that they are influencing and impacting someone on some level and to some degree. Great things happen when we see our self’s as leaders.

    • Me too Dan. There’s always some level of influence we’re having on others.

  • Love the list man and love the new photo! Great stuff!

    • Thanks David. My wonderful wife took the picture and I think she did a fantastic job on it as well.

      • way to give a shout out to the wife! Nice job 🙂

        • Well, she is the photographer. And a great one at that.