How to Prove You Have Leadership Qualities

Three Parts:Demonstrating the Right CharacteristicsMaking ConnectionsLearning from Others

Leadership is an important quality for any type of organization, whether it be corporations, small businesses, schools, and even families. Proving that you have leadership qualities means being patient and humble. It can take a little work on your part, but following the example of others can help you prove your leadership qualities in any setting.

Part 1
Demonstrating the Right Characteristics

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    Be willing to admit mistakes. You do need to be a high achiever to be recognized as a leader. However, proving you have leadership qualities means you must prove you are also honest. Lead by example by freely admitting your mistakes.[1]
    • For example, if you send an email to the wrong person, immediately send a follow-up email correcting the mistake. Don't try to pretend it didn’t happen.
    • In a business meeting, you might share the wrong statistic or get tongue tied about logistics. If you share the wrong information, immediately admit it. It may feel like your supervisors will look down on you, but it is more likely that they will respect you.
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    Do your share. Although as a leader you often direct others in their tasks, doing your fair share is important. If you aren’t willing to do the grunt work that you assign, your subordinates won’t be willing to do it either. How much work you are willing to do is important in leading by example and proving that you have leadership qualities.[2]
    • For example, you may have “cleaning the bathrooms” on your list of team tasks. Place yourself in the rotation of people assigned to clean them.
    • If you're coaching a sports team, go out and demonstrate the play that you're describing.
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    Admit your shortcomings. Own your failures, downplay your successes, and let others take the credit. Being humble is an important part of proving you have leadership qualities. It demonstrates that you are all about helping others be successful. A leader helps others grow.
    • Also try to celebrate in private. If you land a big success as a leader, don’t gloat or boast. Leaders simply don’t do this.[3]
    • For example, if you were coaching your child's little league baseball team and they won the championship, make sure you tell the players that they are the ones who deserve the credit.
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    Be confident. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Leaders who are confident are usually noticed by those in authority. In other words, don’t change your personality to fit a leadership role; make the role fit your personality.[4]
    • Look for challenges to take on. Managing small projects shows you have leadership qualities, especially when you are successful.[5]
    • Try doing a few things to be more confident. For example, give yourself a pep talk in the mirror before work each morning.
    • Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
    • Ask your coworkers or loved ones to tell you what your strengths are.
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    Adapt to changes. Another important element of proving you have leadership qualities is being able to adapt to circumstances. You must be able to think out of the box, even being able to choose between two bad options. Adapting allows you to look beyond the easy decision.[6]
    • You need to make decisions quickly, and having a creative nature helps you do this.
    • For example, when faced with a decision about who to fire and who to keep on staff, you have to make the decision without considering your personal relationship with anyone involved.
    • Adapting to changes also means that you keep an open mind and consider perspectives different from your own.

Part 2
Making Connections

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    Communicate with your team. Pay attention to the people you lead when you give instructions. For example, if you are met with a blank stare, take the time to make sure they fully understand. Being a good communicator is an important part of showing you have what it takes to be a leader.[7]
    • When you are training people under you, for example, adopt an “open door” policy, or allow them to come to you whenever they need help.
    • When leading a committee on enacting social change, tell your team your ideas and invite them to contribute.
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    Build relationships with questions. Be willing both to ask your subordinates questions to help them stay motivated, and ask questions of your supervisors. Building relationships is important for demonstrating leadership qualities. Asking questions helps you find things to talk about.[8]
    • Ask your both your team members and your supervisor how they are doing on a regular basis. This shows that you care, which helps people see you in a positive light.
    • For instance, ask your team, "What can I do to make you excited about this assignment?"
    • Ask your supervisor, "How is the new project going this week? What can I do to improve?"
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    Be an active listener. Listen more than you talk. It can be tempting to jump up in front of your team and prove that you know what’s going on by talking a lot. However, good leaders promote conversation amongst their team members. Listen when people present ideas.[9]
    • For example, ask questions and call on others while you speak rather than giving a solid monologue. Call on people to answer questions when no one volunteers an answer.
    • Repeat back an instruction in your own words when someone has finished speaking.
    • Nod while others talk, and make steady eye contact.
    • Keep your body language open by fully facing the person you're talking. Focus on their face instead of glancing around the room.
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    Find ways to resolve conflict. To demonstrate your leadership qualities, show that you aren’t afraid of to resolve conflict.[10] To successfully navigate conflict, you must have the respect of your peers and the people skills to address the needs of those involved. Watch the body language of those in conflict to determine what they need.
    • You can find ways of resolving conflict by simply jumping in and seeing what works with different people.
    • It may also be helpful to read books on conflict resolution when working with groups of people.
    • Try to remain calm when someone gets agitated, deferring your negative reaction until you can be alone.
    • Work with your colleagues to find a compromise. If you have to resolve the conflict between two of your members, help them negotiate.
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    Delegate tasks. Demonstrate the ability to let others handle small tasks. This shows that you have the wisdom to preserve your work quality by passing small details on to others.[11] For example, as you increase in authority, start handing off small tasks to a secretary. Let them answer the phone, respond to emails, etc.
    • Figure out the strengths that each team member has and assign tasks to fit each person.
    • Hire team members who are strong where you are weak.
    • If you run a website, hire writers who produce quality articles since your strengths are likely more in web design or customer service.

Part 3
Learning from Others

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    Find a mentor. You need to develop yourself as a leader, even if you are born with a strong personality or knack for leading.[12] One way to do this is to choose a role model from your daily life and Ask someone if they would be your mentor. This way you can ask them for advice.
    • You might ask a mentor for advice about learning, growing in your position, and so on.
    • Do what your mentor does and go to them for advice when you encounter situations that you don't know how to handle.
    • If you are a supervisor in a corporation, you might select a manager one step above you to be your mentor.
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    Choose positive examples to study. Just as good leaders lead by example, you should follow the example of other leaders to prove that you have leadership qualities. Doing so will teach you important lessons that would probably have been learned the hard way.[13]
    • Choose a leader in your daily life, or a famous leader you know has accomplished great things.
    • For example, you could choose a successful businessman like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Examine their life stories to see what they did in similar situations.
    • Think about famous leaders you read about in college. Who did you identify with the most?
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    Be adaptable. You’ll need to learn to think on your feet. When you are in a leadership role, you will be expected to handle a variety of different challenges. Try not to stress as your schedule changes mid-day. Learn to go with the flow.
    • Have some flex time. Build some padding into your schedule each day. That way, you’ll have time to handle unexpected issues.
    • For example, if an employee knocks on your door and asks to talk, make the time. You can shift things around later.
    • Experiment. Try new ways to communicate and find solutions. For example, maybe you always have staff meetings on Monday mornings. Try moving them to Wednesdays to see if you get better participation.[14]
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    Respond to feedback. A mark of a good leader is knowing how to receive criticism without getting angry about it. When a supervisor gives you feedback, respond positively by thanking them and then implementing their suggestions. This demonstrates humility and willingness to learn.
    • Keep a positive attitude when receiving feedback. Your morale reflects on your team.[15]
    • When someone tells you how you could be less aggressive with your athletes when coaching a sports team, don't get upset. Smile and thank the critic.


  • Treat everyone in a friendly manner and get on good terms with as many of your colleagues as possible. A little kindness goes a long way.
  • Not everyone is naturally a leader, so make sure you are evaluating yourself honestly when you're envisioning a future role for yourself. Try to find a position that you are most suited for to maximize your chance of success.
  • Always attempt to be humble and respectful. You may have some incredible accomplishments, but so have your colleagues and supervisors.


  • Be cautious not to step on other people to push yourself higher as a leader. Instead, allow your qualities to speak for themselves. You will alienate people by pushing them down, which is not a leadership quality.

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring