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What Makes A Person A Leader?

Updated on December 31, 2013

A leader stands out in a crowd; people notice them and want to be around them. They have interesting things to say that people want to hear; talents the public wants to experience.

But why do some people have it and others don’t and can you learn how to be a leader if you are not one?


Some are just born with this trait.

A few come into this world blazing their own trail, making their own ideas and inventing cool things and if people want to follow them that’s great and if not they’d be okay just doing their own thing but the fact is they draw people. They have a magnetism that pulls them in without even trying. Their words hold attention and most of their ideas sound wonderful.

Oldest children tend to be one more so than others but a middle or youngest sibling can be one too. Younger brothers and sisters have a natural propensity to want to do what the older one(s) are doing. They are the first bigger, smarter and more talented person they know so they automatically try to do the things big brother does.

As the younger kids get older and are exposed to more people they still might follow the elder sibling’s lead but it’s just as likely they will find they aren’t as clever as they first thought and find other more interesting role models.

Older siblings get used to telling the younger ones what to do and having followers. This builds their ego making way for a leader personality. That’s not to say they will retain this status because unless they are interesting to people outside their home they will soon lose credibility.

Not all oldest children are born leaders.

Leaders don't always have a lot of followers.

Some that are born with this trait don't necessarily have a lot of people around them but it's obvious when you talk to them that they are not followers and always lead. They'll have a few cronies that attach themselves to his shadow and pattern their behavior, attire or ideas after him.

These people can have a hard time in their career unless they learn to work with others and keep their supervisors intrigued with their abilities.

Forced or acquired leadership:

People who are promoted into a managerial position are a leader whether they want to be or not. If they are introvert, this can be difficult because they are most happy doing their own thing without an audience or being responsible for others but they can still succeed.

Being sympathetic and patient are the two biggest traits but you have to be careful or people will take advantage. Let them know you are willing to listen but you still expect their best.

Unique personalities.

Being unusual can be a bad thing but it can also be a good thing if your uniqueness is interesting. For instance: if you tell great stories, funny jokes or wear great clothes others want to emulate, then you just might be leader material.

If, however, your uniqueness is not found to be wonderful then you will just be labeled as a freak, nerd or whatever the current label is for weird folks.

People like to be around anyone who can entertain us or give us ideas so those with exceptional abilities are often leaders.


Artists, celebrities and those with unusual traits are usually leaders whether they want to be or not simply because people love their work. Fans enjoy the music they create or the stories they write so they follow them. They’ll have people around as long as they continue to produce new and interesting things.

Leaders can fall from grace.

Being a leader isn’t an easy job and your title can be taken away if you don’t keep your audience intrigued. People are fickle creatures and what they find great and wonderful today may not be the case tomorrow. Or, if you do something that is considered to be unsavory your clan can move on to the next cool individual to come along.

Take for instance some celebrities who have done things we thought were uncouth or despicable such as pedophilia or animal cruelty. Their talents and former greatness is overshadowed by that one awful deed they’ve done and people decide not to contribute attention or funds to them anymore.

Sure, there will still be a few faithful hangers on but their group is greatly depleted and they have fewer people paying attention when they speak.

Can you climb back on the podium after losing popularity?

This depends on the offense and how wonderful their next feat is. Some win a game, create a magnificent piece of art or give a wonderful speech that overshadows the faux pas. It’s even possible their fans will mostly forget what was done in the past.

Distractions help too. Look at politicians who have had affairs or said something stupid and then someone else will do something worse or a disaster happens and all is forgotten, at least for the moment.

This can happen on a smaller scale at school or work. If someone else says or does something worse than your error or an event takes the focus off of your transgressions and you say or do something new people like, you could be back on top.

Getting the big head.

One of the biggest errors many make is getting cocky and thinking they don’t have to try.

“I’ve already got all these people following me and thinking I’m wonderful, I’m invincible. What can go wrong?”

A lot, Pal. This line of thinking has been the downfall of many a great leader. They stop trying and believe they have made the climb; I’m here for good. It doesn’t work that way. Being a leader is a big responsibility. You owe each and every person hanging on your every word to be the best you can be and most of all… humble.


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    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 3 years ago

      Hi Pamela, very informative and inspiring. The striking feature being the emphasis on getting back on top after a set back, this issue is hardly addressed, thanks you did.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, Allen.

    • Allen Williams profile image

      Allen Williams 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Good hub. Leaders come in all types of people but only some stand out by their actions. I voted this hub up and awesome.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Kathleen.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Having been an observer of leadership my entire adult life because of my exposure to the military, I can tell you I think you are right on the mark with this hub.

      The most unfortunate are those with no leadership skills who are thrust into a leadership role without at least some managerial training. On the other hand, I've known some generals who were essentially generals when they were just starting out as lieutenents. (Where's spellcheck when I need it?) Just natural leaders.

      Up and interesting.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, Albertsj, controlling never works. Leading with a kind hand works so much better.

    • albertsj profile image

      jacy albertson 6 years ago from Lake Mary, Fl

      To many are only interested in controlling rather than leading. And often times, they're good controllers, yet terrible leaders. Good hub! Voted up

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      I've always been an individual dancing to my own band so to speak and never been a follower. It's not easy to be a leader but some are just born being one. Thanks for reading, Sunshine.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Pamela, This article is superb! One is either born to lead or follow. You can't be both. Leaders take a lot of backlash at times, but in the end it's worth it. Sometimes. Most of the time. Voted UP!!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      lol Molometer, love the cat excuse. Some people aren't cut out to be leaders. I've known a few people who were forced into it due to education and experience. Corporations believe in promoting people and that is great, only problem is not all of us are interested in directing others and would be happiest just doing our job.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      We have a saying in Britain that.

      'A person gets promoted until they reach their correct level of mediocrity'

      I have been to some of these seminars on 'leadership' and usually make my excuses and leave.

      My favorite excuse is. 'Got to go, my cat's got diarrhea'

      No-one has challenged this one to date. Even people that know I have no cat.

      I think a lot of this management speak is a lot of hot air dreamed up to employ someones cousin!

      Glad to see that I am not alone in thinking this way.

      Great hub and it got a good debate going. Let's fire all these management guru's and just get on with the work.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks, Judi. Some people do seem to crave attention more than others.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 6 years ago from UK

      I've been experiencing some appalling leadership at work this week. It left me wondering what makes a leader, or rather how do some people manage to persuade others to follow them when they are so clearly lacking in skills or experience.

      I guess, as you point out, some people are just born craving the limelight and push themselves forward regardless, and their determination sees them through.

      Interesting and voted up etc.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Sabrani44, leaders do need followers so it's a great relationship for both.

    • sabrani44 profile image

      sabrani44 6 years ago

      Great hub! You were right on when you said sometimes you're just born with it and sometime you do have to work for it.Leaders are great but where would they be without followers? Well done!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Yes, it is, Rachel.

    • Rachel Richmond profile image

      Rachel Richmond 6 years ago from California

      Great article that is to the highs and lows of being a leader, or getting tapped into that position.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading, alocsin.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Nice information with some inspirational words. Voting this Up and Awesome.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      MSantana, thanks for reading.

    • MSantana profile image

      MSantana 6 years ago from Madison Wisconsin

      Thank to you for your article.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading and commenting, SuperheroSales.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Yaduvanshi, there are many articles and books on how to become a leader but not many defining what truly makes a person stand out and cause others to want to take notice.

    • Yaduvanshi profile image

      Yaduvanshi 6 years ago from Bharat Vrse


      Good write up on the subject

      It is not easy to define leaders and leadership

      as the time and space has its own bearing on both

      You have very well highlighted your points of view

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Hubber088, yes I do. I think they just haven't found people who agree with their ideas and those types of people usually don't care if anyone follows them or not. They are just people who do their own thing.

      G Miah, a true leader doesn't have to try, they just do it naturally. Some don't want to be leaders but people follow them anyway. Some have to be leaders due to their job or if there is no one else like a child's sports team.

    • G Miah profile image

      Gous Ahmed 6 years ago from Muslim Nation

      Excellent hub, great info on leadership.

      There's leaders in every community and some stand out and some don't. Some tried leading whether it's in smaller organisations or bigger organisations, and some give up leadership due to the problems it can sometimes bring. I am speaking from my own experience and i am one who has stopped leading due to the politics other people bring into the mix. Apart from my football (soccer) team, i do not tend to lead elsewhere because soemtimes it can bring stress for no reason!

      Thank you for highlighting this subject!

    • hubber088 profile image

      hubber088 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Good hub, very informative. I wonder, do you think someone is a leader who has no followers?

    • whoisbid profile image

      whoisbid 6 years ago

      Great leaders are the best.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading and sharing, Taleb80.

    • Taleb80 profile image

      Taleb AlDris 6 years ago

      Pamela N Red

      Using a wise & simple words, you wrote about an important issue.

      I Voted Awesome, shared with followers & on twitter.

      I printed the hub to reread it again.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience.


    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      I agree, neeleshkulkarni, there is nothing wrong with being a follower as long as we make sure to follow the right people.

    • neeleshkulkarni profile image

      neeleshkulkarni 6 years ago from new delhi

      much has been said about the traits a leader should have , the way he whould dress and the way he should talk but what matters is that he should be himself. the wannabe leaders created by self help books are easily exposed since at the most crucial moment they lose their confidence.

      what is important is to have the confidence to be oneself at all times and leadership shall follow.

      one theory is that leadership is situational- if you were climbing the Himalayas the most ill dressed,uncommunicative,illiterate sherpa could turn out to be the leader even top corporate honchos would like to follow.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Katrinasul, thanks for reading.

      Dusty, I love the Muppets, they always make me smile.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      Pamela, a great and fun hub, you laid it out well and it was a fun read as it drew my mind toward a few jokes on leadership and then Mac and the Muppets cracked me up, like icing on the cake. It contained some educational value as well, all brought together with a smile, thanks,


    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 6 years ago

      You have very well presented the points that makes a persona a leader. Well done!