10 Reasons You Are Not A Leader

20th Century Fox/Office Space

Leadership is something that many talk about but few actually accomplish. Even among people with titles that would imply that they have a leadership role, it is all too common to find truly uninspiring people trying to play the part of a leader. This is largely because we live in a world that does not fully understand leadership. The majority of people think that if they can shape themselves to fit a list of certain characteristics, they will immediately become influential and create a following. However, this just isn’t so.

Remember when you were in junior high school and your parents had the talk with you about being a leader and not a follower? It went something like “If everyone else walked right over a cliff, are you going to follow them?” While this was meant to be a motivational lesson about the dangers of peer pressure, the underlying lesson was that anyone could be a leader… even me. All it took was the courage to be different, the ability to think for oneself and the strength to not always follow the status quo.

Leaders, it seems, are not born, but made. So, the next question that arises is… are you a leader? While this means different things to different people, there are some very clear warning signs that you are failing miserably in this area. Here are 10 reasons that you might not be a leader.

1. You Are Not Innovative

Steve Jobs once said that “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Those who truly possess leadership skills are rarely ever satisfied with doing things the way they have always been done. While this doesn’t mean that you have to change things that work well just for the sake of being different, a leader will constantly be looking for ways to do things better for themselves and those around them.

2. You Don’t Make Decisions

When it comes to red flags in the area of leadership, not being able to make — and then stand behind — decisions is at the top of my list. Why? Because as a leader, you take on the role of being responsible for others. While no one likes to be the one who has to make the tough calls, those who truly understand leadership know that it has to be done. These individuals will, with as much confidence as is possible, step up to the plate, make a decision and then weather any consequences of that choice.

3. You Do Not Delegate

I once heard someone say that the hardest part of being a leader is having to do everything yourself. This person was obviously failing as a leader and didn’t even know it! True leaders know how and when to delegate to those around and under them. They are not afraid to step back and let someone else help, learn and shine. In fact, Dwight D. Eisenhower was once quoted as saying, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

4. You Don’t Care About People

The very basis of leadership is people. Without a following, there is no need for a leader. While most will agree with this statement, many wannabe leaders still care very little about the people who are under them. Great leaders not only care about people, but they make their decisions based on how those under them are affected. Leaders like this understand that they are only as strong as those who hold them up.

5. You Make Promises, But Get Few Results

Have you ever listened to a dynamic politician say all the right things and make all the right promises only to turn around and do very little when they are actually elected to office? While it is sad to say, many people who dub themselves “leaders” are little more than con artists who know how to manipulate their way into authority. They know how to motivate people with words, but they have very little capacity — or desire, in some cases — to ever follow through to get the results they spoke about so magnificently.

6. You Are Threatened By Great Talent

In our society, there is often a fear that someone below you who shows great potential should be considered a threat instead of an ally. People that think in this way tend to push away those who are strong and capable and instead surround themselves instead with people who they are not challenged or threatened by. While this may work in the short term to boost a fragile ego, it is detrimental in the long term to any organization. Someone who is truly a leader will be smart and strong enough to defer to those around them who are more proficient in any given matter. Leaders like this will build a team, not a pyramid.

7. You Seek Titles, Not Purpose

While it may sound quite foreign to many people, leaders truly hold positions of service. They are designed to be used by those who will seek the best path — and purpose — for the greater good of those under them. If a so-called leader is only seeking fame, recognition, glory and titles for themselves, they are missing the entire calling of their position. While leadership will often have the benefit of power and authority, these should not be what drive a person to lead.

8. You Do Not Solve Problems

Leaders are people who provide answers to problems, plain and simple. Even if they do not have an answer, a true leader will have the ability to get an answer. General Colin Powell has a great piece of advice about leadership in this area. He once said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

9. You Are Full Of Excuses Instead Of Responsibilities

Even the most capable leaders will sometimes fail. They will make decisions that turn out badly or that cause backlash from someone. While this will inevitably happen, true leadership can be seen in the way a person handles these times of catastrophe. Those who try to lie or excuse their way out of their responsibilities are nothing more than cowards not deserving to lead a single soul. On the other hand, folks who stand tall, wholeheartedly admit to failure and take full accountability for the consequences are people of true courage and leadership ability.

10. You Think You Know It All

While it is true that those in leadership positions are often looked to for answers, wisdom and direction, a true leader will never feel that he or she has reached a place of supreme knowledge. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” The world is constantly changing, growing and evolving, and no one will ever reach a place of such greatness that they can stop seeking after education. Because of this, the strongest leaders are also the most diligent of students.