9 Signs You’re A Leader

I’ve met many people who live unassuming lives. Going through the routines and taking care of business.

Many times they feel they’re not adding value to others or they lack the ability to lead.

In reality, they couldn’t be more wrong. The young, stay-at-home mom, the sophomore high school student, or the desk jockey.

Each one has value and the ability to lead.

The qualities of leaders can be very subtle. Look for it and you’ll find at least three or four that are present in your life.

  1. You make decisions: While you may not have the loudest voice, you have the opportunity to speak up and make a decision. Leaders make decisions. Choose to decide.
  2. You have followers: Everyone has someone who follows them. The stay-at-home mom has her children. The quiet student has other students studying their habits. Look around and you’ll see others following you.
  3. You go where others have not: Leaders chose to go to new destinations. Are you finding yourself in places others don’t know about yet? You may be a leader.
  4. You speak up: Do you see injustice happening and speak up? You’re taking a stand and helping another person. This is another sign of leadership.
  5. You experience failure: This is a tough one. Leaders often face failures so don’t fret if you’re in a period of failure. You’re in good company.
  6. You know failure doesn’t define you: While leaders experience failure, they also know it doesn’t define them. Pick yourself up and get back in the game.
  7. You value relationships: Relationships have a place in leadership. Are you building them? Look for ways to create new relationships.
  8. You have a vision for the future: Creating vision and a plan for your future takes initiative. Leaders do this all the time. Begin crafting your vision and take action!
  9. You seek wisdom: You always find time to cram a little learning into your day. Leaders are constantly seeking guidance and wisdom.

Question: What other signs of leadership would you add to this 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.

  • Joe,

    You hit the nail on the head. Leaders influence others whether for good or bad. And everyone is influencing someone.

    I would add one more statement to your current list. Leaders are passionate!

    • That’s a great addition TJ. Leaders need to have a passion behind what they’re doing. It has to leak through them and into the lives of those they lead.

  • Joe,

    Great points re: failure and leadership. This is something I know all too well and have been thinking about often. To add to the list, I would say that being someone who evaluates often is important.

    Asking yourself questions (and asking others) if you handled something right or if something could have been done better requires a maturity level that many people haven’t reached. I’ve noticed this is especially true when asking others as they often won’t be afraid to tell you how things are going!


    • Jeff, evaluations, personal and team-wide, are essential. Leaders have to have a grasp of what is happening and if it’s going in the right direction.

  • Carol Peterson

    I’d add: You seek to have a servant’s heart through it all.

    All of us take on leadership roles in some part of our lives. And that gives us a great responsibility as well as a great opportunity to lead in a manner Christ desired.

    Great post, Joe.

  • Goes along with #6 – but would add that as a leader you are much more focused on the future (and moving forward) than on the past.

    • Great addition Tom. Getting correctly focused and having a clear direction is essential to great leadership. How do you focus on the future?

      • You don’t punish mistakes of the past, or look for blame – you move forward as team. Keep the discussion forward focused when your team starts to tell all the reasons things haven’t worked in the past.

  • DS

    You listen. It’s a rare trait – it demonstrates to others that you value them and their thoughts. It demonstrates that it’s not only about you.

    • Thanks for the input DS. I agree. Listening shows more to an employee than most leaders realize.

  • It’s a great list.
    I’d only add to make sure you’re an active listener…pay attention to non-verbals.
    Also, having integrity…doing what is right even when you don’t get “credit” for it.

    What I think makes the best leaders are those who follow the ultimate leader: Christ Jesus.

    • Great additions TC. Listening is key to letting your employees know you’re for them.

    • What was that? Just joking:) that’s an important one.

  • The one that I would add is people in the situations you mentioned lead when no one is watching. It’s easy to be a leader in front of an audience but leading when no one is watching is strong leadership.

    • Spot on Kimanzi! Leadership infiltrates our whole lives. If we’re inconsistent, it will be found out.

  • A pretty comprehensive list. It might seem counter-intuitive,but I believe I have become a leader, because I was a good follower. And I believe that good followers make good leaders.

    • I like that addition Juan. Good followers learn the ways of a good leader and put them into practice!

    • Great point Juan!

  • Great and true points Joe! I like what John Maxwell said, “If you think you’re leading
    and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” so true, right?:)

    I would add they lead themselves well first!

    • That’s a great quote by Maxwell though I sometimes wonder how accurate it is. I’m not sure I’ve found a time in my life when someone wasn’t following me, whether I knew it or not. What’s your thought on that?

      • Good thought Joe! People might be following us but is it out of obligation or true influence. For example a employee has to follow a manager for the pay check. So even if the person is “following” you are they truly being positively influenced by you. Just a first thought.

        This topic can really be discussed in detail, it might be worth talking about it more via phone at some point.

  • Great words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing some insight on how we are all leading somewhere. Sometimes it seems like we’re so alone, I know it’s difficult to push through those times.

    • Thanks Jared. That loneliness is one of the traps of leadership. Keep fighting it man!

  • Great post. Off hand I can’t think of anything to add to the list. You covered it well. I’ll keep pondering today.

    • Dan, glad you enjoyed it. If you think of anything, please come back and share.

  • I think you covered it well Joe…love the idea that if you make decisions, then you’re a leader.

    • Tessa, I’m a firm believer in that principle. Even with youth or a group of friends, it’s usually the person who makes a decision that’s the leader of the group. That’s all it takes!

  • I would add that 1. I am not afraid to take risks, and 2. Having the ability to see the bigger picture. Also, 3. Not really caring about what others think is important, as this sometimes gives one the ability to “just do it”!

    • Lorraine, those are all great additions! Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      How do you apply those to your leadership?

  • A leader sets the tone by leading through a solid example – even when it means doing the little things like taking out the trash.

    • Jon, that’s truth right there. Leaders see the little things and set the example by doing what needs to be done.

  • Roy

    Leaders develop other people to be future leaders, as opposed to developing more followers. (Cant recall who originally said this, but I find it to be true).

    • Rory, that is true. Our focus should be on creating the next generation of leadership, not on preserving ours. How are you doing this in your leadership?

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