Leading text over image of red game pieces being led by one black piece

If You Have to Constantly Remind People You’re a Leader, You’re Probably Not

Adding this one to my already existing list, which includes the following “rules”:

  • If you have to tell people you’re the smartest person in the room, you aren’t
  • If you constantly refer to yourself as the “alpha male,” you’re not
  • If you consistently go out of your way to show off your “kindness,” you’re not kind. You’re just attention-seeking.

I started this list in the first place because I noticed something in the business world, then in politics, and in my personal life. You shouldn’t have to say certain things because if you are indeed the smartest person, a kind person, an alpha, or a leader, your actions will make that self-evident. If people only know you’re smart because you tell them you aren’t.

After reading this article, I decided to add this one about leaders, where the author refers to something Adam Grant talks about on Simon Sinek’s podcast. I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I found this to be insightful.

“I see a lot of students who want to lead and they don’t know how to follow,” Grant said. “You have a lot of people holding up signs saying ‘This is my cause. This is my mission,’ and not attracting a team behind them.”

As Natasha continues, she points out that he’s not the first person to notice this:

In 2018, Australian researchers studied more than 200 Royal Marine recruits in an elite training program, who had passed a series of psychological tests to qualify. The researchers set out to learn if the recruits who saw themselves as leaders would be seen the same way by their peers over time.

After tracking recruits’ self-identification throughout a grueling 32 weeks of training, researchers found thatthe ones who saw themselves as natural leaders were ultimately unable to convince their peers.

The study’s authors theorized that the attempt at putting yourself above the other recruits as their “leader” ultimately leads to no one wanting to follow. It was the ones who identified themselves more as followers who the other recruits saw as leaders.

The problem that Adam pointed out is that we don’t have courses, books, and seminars that teach people how to be great followers. There’s no market for it.

My hypothesis, and the reason for my list above, is that leaders don’t talk about being leaders any more than brilliant people talk about being smart or kind people talk about being kind. They just do it, and it shows. Leaders set the example, help others succeed, and solve problems. They share credit and take the blame. They are constantly learning from others instead of setting themselves apart. People follow them because of those characteristics. These are people you want to follow. They don’t have to raise a flag and beg people to follow them any more than the most intelligent people have to remind you of how smart they are. Their actions show it. Learning to be a leader can be done, but it’s likely not to be something you learn from studying leadership. It is done by being the person others count on. That’s it.

Talking about it often displays your need to be seen as a leader, not any actual leadership.


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