How to Tell If You’re Destined for Leadership

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There are many schools of thought regarding leadership. An online search for the best leadership styles and the top leadership qualities will produce pages of articles. And here’s another one, right? Not quite. This article will not tell you how to be a great leader; it will tell you whether or not you have what it takes to lead effectively.

As a former military intelligence officer and DoD-certified interrogator, I had to lead a team of interrogators in a very chaotic, stressful, and physically and mentally demanding environment. So, I had to handle my stress effectively to be able to lead my team so they felt safe and successful. Since that time, I have discovered that if you embody certain qualities, you are destined for leadership because people will want to follow you — even in the most difficult and demanding situations. Here are six things that will tell you you are ready to lead!

Related: 7 Telltale Signs That You Have a Leader’s Mindset

1. You know your personality

When you understand your personality traits, how resilient you are when times get tough, your priorities and goals when communicating with others, how you approach deadlines and organize schedules, and the most important criteria for you when making a decision, then you have the self-awareness one needs to be a leader.

Self-awareness about personality traits naturally leads to increased understanding and empathy when working with people who possess different traits than us. Instead of being unable to make sense of others’ actions, we can analyze them and relate them to their inherent personality preference. This ability can prevent natural triggers towards the unknown from judging, blaming or taking things personally.

For example, when I understand that you prefer to complete projects ahead of schedule by following a checklist of prioritized tasks and expect me to do the same, I won’t immediately label you as a micromanager. You won’t label me as a slacker when you understand that I am comfortable multi-tasking and being more flexible with timelines and schedules when managing a project.

2. You know people handle change differently

Knowing about personality preferences is essential, but it’s also crucial to be aware of how people prefer to handle change. Change is an event, but how change affects people is based on their personality traits. Some people embrace change so much they want it to be fast and vast. However, they tend to have difficulty staying focused and completing tasks. Others have an adverse reaction to change. They honor tradition and enjoy predictability. If they have to get on board with change, they prefer it to be small and incremental. Between these two change styles is another style where people approach change cautiously, investigating all options to ensure change is functional.

So, there are three change styles, and the workplace needs all three to function successfully. However, if you weren’t aware of these change styles, you may have judged or labeled those who have a different stance on the change as either inflexible, indecisive or impulsive. When we understand the three change styles, we can better communicate change and successfully lead others through it.

3. You can make decisions timely and with conviction

When it comes to decision-making, I am not saying you have to know everything — you won’t — or that you have to be right all the time — you won’t. However, you do have to make decisions in a timely manner and with conviction, or you will make your followers nervous and possibly lose their trust. Does this describe you?

  • You seek consensus and get buy-in when it is appropriate and necessary.

  • You know how to communicate your decision clearly.

  • You do not wait until it’s too late to decide.

  • You stand your ground and take responsibility for your choice.

If so, these behaviors will gain the confidence of your followers.

Related: 12 Character Traits Exceptional Entrepreneurial Leaders Have In Common

4. You are mindful with your words

Before speaking, take a few seconds to review what you are about to say. Check the tone of your voice and your body language. If it is a high-stakes conversation, plan it, script it and practice it. Before saying anything, ask yourself how you would feel if you were receiving the same message. Ask yourself, what can you change to ensure your message is clear, concise and non-accusatory?

5. You can create a safe environment

Answer these questions: Are people comfortable around you? Are they comfortable speaking up in front of you and giving you feedback? Do you model consistent, effective behaviors that make people feel safe? Do people trust you?

As a leader, you are being watched and scrutinized daily, even on your bad days. So, check in with yourself every morning to ensure you have a positive mindset and demonstrate consistent, productive behaviors. You will make a great leader if you:

  • Listen objectively

  • Are calm and confident

  • Value what people say

  • Respect others’ differences

  • Seek to improve and learn

  • Are accountable and hold others accountable

Related: Being a Born Entrepreneur Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re a Born Leader

6. You are resilient

Everyone has experienced negative situations, such as making the wrong choices, reacting to someone’s words or behaviors with negative emotions or getting sucked into self-sabotaging thoughts. When you can bounce back from these situations with a positive mindset and be productive, you are exercising resilience. Not only will you feel better, but the people around you will feel more comfortable. When people feel comfortable around you, they will trust and follow you. If you are naturally resilient, you are definitely ready to lead!

Do not be discouraged if you read this article and thought, “I have to work on that!” That level of awareness is exactly what you need and what will help you hone these skills to be an effective leader.

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