20 Important Signs of Leadership

A woman demonstrating signs of leadership.

A woman demonstrating signs of leadership. 

Whether you’re considering moving into a leadership position or already leading a team, find out if you have the most common personality and character traits as well as the signs of leadership that define a great leader:

Crosscheck these Signs of Leadership

1. You genuinely care about other people’s success

Your team’s wins are your wins. One of the greatest signs of leadership that demonstrates good leaders is that they are the happiest when their employees or teams are thriving, and they know how to provide them with the right tools, resources, and support to enable that success.

2. You’re a good communicator

Being able to set clear expectations and goals that everyone can get behind is essential for an effective leader. Good communication means simultaneously setting expectations for the short term but also communicating the wider, long-term vision for the organization that gets people excited to come to work each day.  

3. You know how to inspire

One of the best signs of leadership is that the best leaders are inspirational. They know how to articulate a wider vision or message that resonates with a group of people and inspires things like high performance, loyalty, or any kind of positive outcome.

4. You have a clear leadership philosophy

One of the most important ways that you can communicate inspirational messages to your employees is through a specific, clear, strong leadership philosophy. A leadership philosophy is a kind of “elevator pitch” for leaders, where they can quickly explain their guiding principles and expectations that define their own personal leadership style. Every good leader has one. Need help defining your leadership philosophy? Check this out.

5. You lead by example

Another one of the best signs of leadership that leaders apply is that they model the behaviors and attitudes they expect from their employees. Don’t simply give lip service to the kind of culture or environment you want to create, but actually live out these principles on a daily basis. Your team members will naturally align with the tone that you set.  

6. You invest in people

Leaders understand that their biggest assets are people, and they know how to make their employees’ growth, professional development, well-being, support, and overall satisfaction levels top priority.

7. You have a talent for spotting talent

Part intuition, part experience, great leaders know how to spot rising stars and diamonds in the rough, and they’re equally passionate about developing this kind of talent.

8. You empower

The best leaders will fight, sacrifice, advocate, and lobby for the resources their employees need to feel empowered and be truly successful. Rather than micromanage every task or employee, a great leader with all essential signs of leadership acts as a support system and provides their team with the kind of environment they need to work independently.

9. You know how to give feedback that makes a difference

Criticism and negative feedback are often counterproductive if they aren’t communicated in the right way -- a way that inspires better performance, more loyalty, more enthusiasm, and overall learning or growth. Good leaders know how and when to give both positive and negative (or constructive) feedback that leads to better outcomes, not just hurt feelings or wounded egos.

10. You take risks

By nature, making decisions requires taking risks. People with important signs of leadership are comfortable making quick decisions in times of tumult or ambiguity, knowing and accepting the inevitable risks.  

11. You take accountability

Taking risks also means being held accountable for their outcomes. “The buck stops here” and all that. A leader knows they’re ultimately responsible for their employees’ performance and they don’t shy away from taking accountability for wider business outcomes.  

12. You’re a strategic thinker

Good leaders understand how to focus on larger business goals while still keeping track of individual projects, departments, or metrics. They not only see the bigger picture and wider business goals, but they also understand how all of the smaller moving parts work together to achieve those goals.

13. You’re good at conflict resolution

Workplace conflict is inevitable. A great person with good signs of leadership knows how to diffuse the situation so that the conflict doesn’t interfere with performance or KPIs.

14. You can handle the big disasters

From time to time, something major happens, and leaders must go into crisis management mode. A great leader needs to be able to inspire, rally, and focus their team in times of uncertainty or tumult so that the overall health of the organization and business remains intact.

15. You create calm amid chaos

Great leaders have a calming, steadfast presence that naturally reassures team members in difficult times. They meet chaos with calm and always seem to find a way to reassure their employees and keep them on track to reach their goals no matter what’s happening around them.

16 . You inspire loyalty

Great leaders have signs of leadership that inspire employees to want to do good work. They motivate and know how to generate excitement around a particular project or around the organization’s mission and goals as a whole.

17. You’re authentic

People can spot a fake a mile away. If you genuinely live out the ideals and principles you say you expect from your team members, they’ll be much more inclined to follow your lead.

18. You celebrate wins

Celebrating the successes of your team members -- even in a public forum -- is a crucial aspect of motivating, inspiring, and leading. People will feel compelled to repeat good behaviors or tasks if they receive positive feedback.

19. You remove barriers

Employees with signs of leadership don’t simply evaluate or provide feedback after a project or task is completed; they lay out the conditions their employees need in order to be successful, and in large part, this includes removing any obstacles that might keep them from achieving their goals or make their lives that much more difficult in the process.

20. You’re self-aware

The best leaders are acutely aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and are as equally comfortable reaching out to others for help when they need it. Leaders don’t feel the need to “own” every single good idea. Instead, they seek out other skill sets, perspectives, and experiences to fill in the gaps they know are necessary to move the business forward.

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