In the movies, amazing leaders can frequently be seen making life-changing speeches – sometimes whilst riding a horse back and forth before a mass of armored, sword-wielding soldiers.
In real life, leadership is a much quieter trait. In fact, you may not always even realize that others see you as a great leader.
Here are some signs that people view you as a leader in the office:
1. Everyone seeks out your opinion
This is probably the most obvious sign that your peers view you as a leader. Whether or not you’re the boss, you’re a fixture in the office when it comes to giving insight and opinions. If this sounds like you, then your coworkers clearly value your wisdom.
2. You’re a good communicator
People won’t think you’re a great leader just because you’ve got good ideas. You’ve got to be able to communicate those ideas too.
“There has to be a sense that the person themselves believes in the project or idea,” leadership expert Hugh Kearns said in an interview with Science magazine. “If they are wishy-washy or not very committed to the idea themselves, then it will be very hard to bring other people along. The other people will have the concern that the project will collapse at the first obstacle or setback.”
3. Your boss ignores you sometimes
“Sometimes, bosses want to see how proactive and self-starting their future leaders are. Those who need less care and feeding may have the edge over those who need constant reinforcement and direction to be productive,” Jim Morris writes for the Daily Muse.
Having your supervisor “neglect” you sometimes might not be the best feeling in the world, but it’s probably a pretty good sign.
4. You never scramble to take the lead
In an article for Inc, Les McKeown wrote that there’s a difference between take-charge-type posers and real leaders:
“Always opinionated, usually impatient and frequently brusque, these gotta-be-in-fronters get so used to other people describing them as natural born leaders that sooner or later – to their own and everyone else’s detriment -they begin to believe it.”
Real leaders only take the helm when it’s necessary.
This trait goes back to one of the heroes of ancient Rome. A general named Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was called to serve the state as dictator during an invasion (in those days, “dictators” were appointed during military emergencies and held full authority for six months). He was so competent that he routed the invasion in a matter of weeks. Afterwards, instead of taking advantage of his term, he resigned, went back to his small farm, and became a legend in his own lifetime.
People generally prefer selfless leaders like Cincinnatus over ambitious, grasping ones like Caesar.
5. You help people grow
Whenever someone messes up, you’re the first one on the scene helping them to fix things. Coworkers seek you out for help and your boss frequently asks you to mentor others.
“If people are coming to you, they either figured out you excel at something, or they were sent to you as a knowledgeable resource. Either way, it’s a good sign,” Morris says in an article for the Daily Muse.
6. You’re firm, but not close-minded
Moderation is key. You don’t want to come across as a pushover, of course. No one is going to view a weak-willed person as a potential leader. That being said, the best leaders aren’t lone wolves. They take their team members’ suggestions and concerns into consideration before acting.
If you stand up for your own ideas, but fairly weigh every option before proceeding, then odds are your coworkers consider you an effective leader.
7. People come to you for advice
If people are actually soliciting your insight at work, that’s a clear sign they respect your judgment. They’re looking to you for guidance.
Think about it this way. Who do you turn to when you need advice? Some random colleague whose work you don’t respect? Or someone you aspire to become more like?
8. You always do your homework
A good leader doesn’t have to give amazing speeches or even have a ton of charisma. People will perceive you as as promising leader if you have insightful solutions and prepare well for workplace projects. Instead of trying to wow others with fake charisma, focus on being the best you can be at your job.
“I think most people have unrealistic ideas about leadership,” Kearns said an interview with Science magazine. “They tend to think they have to be Nelson Mandela or some such inspirational character. In reality leadership is much more mundane: for example, preparing for your meeting, communicating with people, and listening.”
9. You’re confident, but not arrogant
Arrogant people believe themselves to be excellent leaders and workers – without having much evidence to back up that hypothesis. They just feel like they should be in charge.
No one wants to take orders from an arrogant leader.
Confident people know their strengths and work on their weaknesses. They trust in their own competence and work hard. People are usually happy to follow confident, competent individuals.