By Akshad Singi

A title and leadership rarely go hand in hand. And the asynchrony is nauseating.

There are so many CEOs, founders, bosses and mentors that are in a position of leadership, but they don’t exactly lead. They don’t inspire. They don’t teach. They just abuse their positions.

On the other hand, there are so many people who show true potential as leaders even if they don’t have a title. Let’s discuss signs that you may be such a person.


Here are 4 rare signs you’re a great leader, even if you don’t have the title:

1. You love to learn what fires people up

Kobe Bryant never actually hung out with his teammates just to hang out. He didn’t take vacations just to take vacations. Everything Kobe Bryant did was an attempt to be a better basketball player. Everything.

That is why, even when he hung out with his teammates, he had a purpose. He wanted to know them individually so that he knew what nerve to touch to get them inspired. And that’s what made him an excellent leader who won five rings.

Because the thing is — no matter what a person’s goal, their reason to chase that goal might be different. Their triggers might be different. That’s why inspiration is person-specific. Great leaders try to capitalize on this.

They don’t throw around generic inspirational words and expect results. They don’t use a cookie-cutter approach. Instead, they try to know their teammates on a deeper level, and then, their words of motivation are also specific to that person.

Hence, if you love to learn what fires up someone’s belly — be it your friend or your colleague — it’s a sign that you’re a great leader.

2. You give freedom to make decisions

Some people love micro-managing. They just don’t let others take any kind of decisions. Whether it’s planning a trip or working on a project. This is bad leadership. Not allowing others to take decisions handicaps them.

But great leaders do the opposite.

They allow others to take decisions. I’ve often had my brother tell me, “Take the decision and let me know. Don’t bother me.” And this is great because this enables and forces me to think for myself. And if the decision turns out to be wrong, I’ll learn first-hand.

However, giving others the freedom to take some decisions is hard because:

  • You have to make peace with the fact that their decision might not meet your standard.
  • And that the decision might do damage.

That’s why great leaders begin with the delegation of low stake decisions. And then, when the people get better, they slowly raise the stakes. If you do this in your everyday life, it’s a sign that you’re a great leader.

3. You have a healthy bias when it comes to taking credit and accepting blame

M.S. Dhoni was one of the most successful and beloved Indian cricket captains in the sport’s history.

And there’s this one little detail that people love about him: In every picture with a trophy or a cup of a tournament that they won, Dhoni stood on one of the sides. He never stood in the centre. He never held the cup or the trophy in the team picture. This is because as a person and a leader, he was always biased to give away the credit to his team — even though it was evident that he was the one who lead his team to victory.

At the same time, he often took the blame when his team lost a game. He pointed out his own mistakes and emphasized less on the mistakes of others.

Great leaders do this because, unlike others, they don’t care about appearing “great” in front of people. They care about their team’s morale and learning from their mistakes.

Hence, if you’re biased to accept the blame, but give away the credit, it’s a sign that you’re a great leader.

4. You understand the exponentially infectious nature of growth

True leaders care about the growth of everyone around them. They understand that everyone around them is a part of their team.

  • You and your wife are a team.
  • Your family is a team.
  • Your office is a team.
  • Even the members of the opposite team — in the bigger picture — are actually your team. (I’ll explain why below.)

This is because growth is infectious. When you grow, your growth will rub off on people in the form of inspiration and lessons, and they’ll grow too. And when they grow, you’ll grow too — for the same reason. This is even, and especially true for your competitors. For instance, if the Boston Celtics level up their game, it would force LA Lakers to get better too.

People who aren’t great leaders get it wrong. They’re threatened by the growth of others. They think it somehow reduces their worth. And hence, they care for their own growth but try to pull others down at the same time. This might help in the short term, but in the long term, such people lose.

On the other hand, true leaders understand the real truth about growth. They understand that growth is infectious. This is why, they care about the growth of everyone around them, as they know, this will eventually get back to them — and lead to their own growth.

In summation:

  1. You love to learn what inspires people. And hence, your everyday life inspirational speeches are not through a cookie-cutter approach. You hand out person-specific motivation.
  2. You allow people to take decisions — low stakes at first. But you raise the stakes slowly as you trust people’s abilities more.
  3. You’re biased to accept the blame but give away the credit.
  4. You’re not a crab who pulls others down to elevate your own image. You care about the growth of everyone — as you know it’ll boomerang its way back to you.

Feature Image Credit: Kseniia Zagrebaeva/ Shutterstock

By Akshad Singi

Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.

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