Leaders aren’t necessarily the bossiest people in the room. True leadership springs from the ability to inspire people to do their best work, and then support them while they do it. Since these qualities aren’t showy, it’s not surprising that we sometimes overlook them, even in ourselves.
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Here are a few of the lesser-discussed signs of a born leader:
1. You only lead when you have to.
“True leaders don’t presume that it’s their divine right to take charge every time two or more people get together,” writes Les McKeown at Inc. “Quite the opposite. A great leader will assess each situation on its merits, and will only take charge when their position, the situation, and/or the needs of the moment demand it.”
2. You’re empathetic.
Good leaders are sensitive to the feelings of their colleagues, even in situations where it wouldn’t be appropriate to react to them. The ability to tune into the mental states of those around is a sign of emotional intelligence — as is the ability to harness emotions to get the job done.
3. You know when it’s time to take a break.
No one wants to work for a Michael Scott type who’s always looking for an excuse to slack, but being able to sense when your team is burnt out and needs a change in direction is an essential component of good leadership.
“Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person,” writes Tanya Prive at Forbes. “Keep the office mood a fine balance between productivity and playfulness.”
Perhaps that’s the bottom line: good leaders know that they’re leading human beings, and act accordingly, inspiring, guiding, and protecting the people who work for them, so that they can do their very best work.
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