You’re an introvert.
You don’t have a boisterous personality. You’ve never seen an actual popularity contest, but you are certain if you were in one, that you wouldn’t win. Clearly, you aren’t cut out to be a leader.
That depends. If one were to believe the depiction of leaders that exists in movies, television, books, and the classroom, the answer to that question might be yes.
After all, based on the typical portrayal of a leader, aren’t the brash, outgoing, forceful, outspoken, and charismatic? How can a person without these characteristics be an effective leader?
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Here’s the truth. You can be a great leader without possessing the nature or personality traits of the stereotypical leader that has been presented to you. You have innate leadership qualities.
You just have to figure out what they are, and how you can use them.
Try to answer the following questions, and you might discover these qualities within yourself.
1. Are you willing to come in early and stay late?
You may have received messaging that tells you that good leaders get people to perform by having a commanding presence.
This isn’t true.
Successful leaders earn the respect of their teams when they lead by example. This means demonstrating the willingness to put in the same work that your team puts in.
If you are willing to put in the same long hours that your team must work, you’ve already established some leadership abilities.
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2. Will you step in when a team member needs help?
Shouldn’t true leaders model adherence to firm expectations?
Shouldn’t they demand that team members overcome their own struggles and contribute effectively?
Doesn’t that help equal enabling?
You might think that your desire to help people around you is a weakness. It is not. When you help somebody, you aren’t modeling being taken advantage of.
You aren’t modeling permitting irresponsibility.
“AS A LEADER, YOUR ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE AND STEP IN TO HELP SOMEBODY IS PRICELESS.”
By doing so, you are communicating the message that each member of the team that is important, and that it is okay to model teamwork and cooperation.
3. Is it important for you that every member of a team is valued?
Good leaders are task oriented.
Great leaders are also task oriented but they balance that with true concern for the development and well being over everybody on their team.
If you have a natural tendency to try and help your team find their talents and discover how and where they can contribute, that is a great sign that that you have the ability to lead your team and boost morale.
4. Will you stand up for an idea you believe in or advocate for a coworker?
Sometimes, the best thing that a leader can offer is quiet yet sincere advocacy both for the ideas that they believe in, or for the people on their teams.
If you have the ability and the willingness to do this, you are already well on your way to becoming a leader.
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If people know that you are willing to stand up for them and protect their interests, they will be more willing to follow your lead and believe in your leadership abilities.
5. Would you rather seek consensus than victory?
It is a common misconception that a great leader is always seeking victory when it comes to disagreements and confrontations.
This is untrue.
“GOOD LEADERS RECOGNIZE THAT WINNING BATTLES OFTEN RESULTS IN HURT FEELINGS AND RESENTMENTS.”
These things can have a negative impact on morale and future interactions with the parties who ended up on the losing side of the confrontation.
If your natural instinct is to find common ground and work towards solutions that benefit everybody, and that make everybody feel good about the resolution, you have one of the most important leadership qualities that there is.
6. Do you recognize the value of picking your battles?
Not only do good leaders seek compromise and consense wherever there is controversy, they also know that it is often wise to avoid controversy altogether.
Many people believe that conflict avoidance is something that others will take as a sign of weakness.
In reality, this couldn’t be further than the truth. Think about it. Everybody knows at least one person who continually is at battle with somebody over something.
They seemingly cannot let anything go, and so they move from one confrontation to another. It is very rare to see these types of people in leadership positions, and when they are in leadership positions, they are often seen as bullies.
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Somebody who has innate leadership skills wisely chooses their battles. The result is that when they do decide to take a firm stance on something, that stance is usually respected.
7. Are you willing to give credit to others for their contributions?
A great leader is primarily focused on the development of others.
This means overseeing their growth and training as employees, ensuring that they are happy and fulfilled with the work that they are doing, and ensuring that they are recognized for their accomplishments.
“ALL TOO OFTEN, WHEN A TEAM IS SUCCESSFUL, ALL OF THE PRAISE AND CREDIT GOES TO THE PERSON AT THE TOP.”
A great leader doesn’t let that happen. They ensure that everybody involved receives specific and meaningful credit for their contributions.
If you have a tendency to pass compliments on to others, it can be a sign that you recognize the importance of giving credit where credit is due.
As you can see, there is every bit as much value in quiet, competent leadership as there is in a loud and brash leadership style.
In fact, in many cases, quiet leaders who truly care about their teams, work as hard as they demand others to work, and are willing to take principled stands, are more respected than their often demanding and confrontational counterparts.
So, if you are an introvert, contemplative in nature, and have a quiet demeanor, don’t assume that leadership is not in the cards for you. The truth is, these characteristics may be signs that your innate leadership skills are much stronger than you realize.