13 signs you’re a genuine leader, according to psychology

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Not everyone who’s a leader realizes it right away. 

But for those who are destined to be leaders and have it in their bones, the subject keeps coming up. 

That’s because they don’t feel comfortable taking orders or being in the backseat: they want to take the steering wheel and drive. 

Are you one of these natural-born, genuine leaders? 

Let’s dive in and take a look… 

1) You’re highly decisive

Decisiveness is not a quality that everyone has, but for you it’s always been a natural part of you.

From a young age you were able to make decisions and stick to them. 

It might have just started with your favorite ice cream flavor, but that early ability to make a choice and be sure of it has translated well into your later life. 

As Certified Mental Performance Consultant and psychologist Dr. Eddie O’Connor puts it

“It’s about having the confidence and conviction needed to select the best course of action without getting bogged down by overthinking.”

Does that sound like you?

2) You’re a clear and confident communicator 

The next crucial part of being a genuine leader is that you’re a confident communicator

This means that you:

  • Project your voice so it’s loud enough to be heard by the person or people you’re speaking to;
  • Enunciate your words clearly so there’s no doubt what you’re saying;
  • Speak at a slow enough speed to be clearly understood without adding lots of “um” “uhhs” or “errs”;
  • Have confident and outer-facing body language where you look people clearly in the eye and stand upright and firm.

These aren’t just details, they’re core aspects of a natural leader. 

3) You’re a natural problem solver who hates procrastination

When you’re a natural leader, you avoid procrastination like the plague. 

It just doesn’t sit well with you. 

If there’s a problem or challenge on the desk in front of you or, at the construction site or on your computer, you tackle that issue. 

You can’t rest until you’ve done something about it and figured out a way to move forward. 

You’re just not the type to leave unresolved problems lying around for somebody else to clean up. It’s not in your nature. 

4) You take responsibility for your actions and decisions

One of the most important hallmarks of a leader is that they take responsibility for their decisions

Is this you?

This means taking a risk, and sometimes it also means accepting blowback and blame. 

Plenty of people are willing to make hard decisions and take the lead right up to the point that they actually have to stand behind it come hell or high water. 

As a natural leader you’re not built that way. You’re willing to push through.

“People often come to consult with me saying that they’re confused when, in reality, they know exactly what they want—they just don’t like the consequences that will follow if they acted on it so they get stuck and feel unable to move forward,” notes psychotherapist Vikki Stark M.S.W.  

5) You make others feel safe to speak their mind

The leader isn’t just a commander, he or she is also a facilitator. 

If this is you, then you are able to actively foster and environment in which others feel safe to speak their mind and speak freely. 

You are an active listener and you foster a workplace or home environment where people are heard. 

You don’t have some topics off limits or play favorites. 

You let people be true to themselves so that you can actually have authentic and meaningful interactions going on, not just pre-scripted popularity contests. 

6) You challenge others to think outside the box 

As a leader, you like to challenge others to think outside the box

Everyone who crosses your path knows that they don’t have to always agree with you and that you prize original thinking. 

You’re not looking for conformity, you’re looking for authenticity. 

And you look for as many opportunities as possible to encourage and facilitate that in the businesses, social situations and contexts that you take leadership in. 

7) You lead by example and hate hypocrisy 

Real leaders aren’t power-hungry. 

If you’re truly a leader at heart, you’re motivated by efficacy and results. You get a rush out of problem-solving and consistency. 

You may not be a moral ideal of some kind, but you do your best to do what you say and say what you do. 

You hate hypocrisy, less so for any moral reason as because it confuses and upsets people and leads organizations and causes to downfall. 

You want consistency and you want results. That doesn’t leave room for excuses and unethical hypocrisy.

8) You’re not afraid to be questioned or challenged

When you’re an individual who belongs in a position of power, you don’t fear questions or challenges. 

In fact you welcome them. 


It makes you stronger and helps you learn. 

Only a weak or insecure person fears being questioned or challenged. When you’re a competent leader you welcome all those who can respectfully point out where you’re going wrong or what you could be doing better. 

9) You consistently cultivate a positive can-do energy and attitude

Leadership does relate directly to attitude. 

Even on your down days, you try to motivate those around you with positivity and reassuring energy. 

In fact, you get a boost for yourself by boosting up others. 

It’s a mutual cycle of empowerment, and you find that being alone or without responsibilities too much actually leaves you feel more depressed and frustrated. 

You want the challenge and the struggle. It’s how you rally yourself and others to rise to the occasion. 

10) You like to share your knowledge, teach and mentor

The man or woman of authority does not jealously guard his or her knowledge. 

In fact, you get joy out of sharing what you know and sharing your wisdom with people. 

You’re not worried about losing your hold on authority, and you’re actually glad to be spreading what you know and giving others the tools to help you and be closer to you in your tasks. 

You share partly out of self-interest: the more you share the easier your job and your life becomes due to collaboration and cooperation on a shared vision.

11) You know how to effectively motivate and incentivize employees

As a leader, you’re able to motivate people without stooping to threats or blatant “either / or” scenarios. 

In other words it’s not about “do X and I’ll give you Y,” and it’s also not about “do X or I’ll promote Jim.”

Instead, you as a leader are able to help others see your overall vision and the big picture. 

You’re able to motivate employees (and others you may be leading) to see beyond narrow self-interest and the short-term into a longer-term vision and future. 

This relates to the next point…

12) You genuinely care about other people and their success

A true leader cares. 

Your wellbeing doesn’t depend on the success or failure of others, but you do care. 

You want those who listen to you and respect you to succeed. 

You give out advice that you actually believe, not just advice that sounds right or is popular. 

You aren’t just sitting on a throne detachedly throwing your words around.

You have skin in the game. 

13) You don’t think of leading as being ‘better’ or ‘above’ others 

When you’re truly a leader you don’t consider yourself above others. 

Even if your title at work or your role in the family is that of an authoritative figure, it’s not a power trip to you. 

You actually want to be effective and competent, not just “in charge.”

It’s about real guidance and actual results, not about you.

This brings me to a crucial point about true leadership…

The ideal of the servant leader

The concept of a servant leader used to confuse me. 

If a leader is in charge then why would he be a servant or serve others? I assumed the idea was just about false humility or something leaders use to pretend to care about the “little guy.”

To be fair, sometimes many leaders do ape humility just to get more power. 

That said, the concept itself is very valid. 

The servant leader understands that true power and authority isn’t about domination or exerting your will, it’s about getting a group and a vision to function coherently. 

The best way to do this is through cooperation and making everybody’s skills fit in the big picture. 

It’s not just about “do this or else…” In fact, that’s the weakest form of leadership…

The true leader serves and coordinates because, quite frankly, that’s where true power and success are found. 

12 signs someone is silently struggling with self-esteem issues

If you recognize these 12 signs, you’re starting to break free from your past