Litmus Test of a Leader

I used to be into Body Building when I was younger. Unfortunately I never achieved a level worthy of competing, mostly because of my skinny legs and an unwillingness to sacrifice my real job for gym time.

During those years I always found it interesting how people in the gym saw themselves. Some guys were HUGE, yet they looked in the mirror complaining of their deficient biceps or thighs. Girls would have incredibly carved bodies, yet yearn to lose more weight. On the flip side there were those who were lacking in muscular development; however walked around the gym and threw weights around like they were Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ms. Olympia.

These views are not only true in the gym, but also when it comes to leadership. Many people see themselves differently that others perspective. There are those who feel they are lacking as a leader, yet have people flocking to be on their team. Then on the other side of the spectrum there are the haughty who look in the magic leadership mirror saying, “My team is so lucky to have me at the helm” while people are begging people to save them from their grasp.

In body building the best determination of the most fit and built physique are the judges at the completion. They are able to compare and judge in an unbiased manner whose hard dieting and work has chiseled out the best display of muscular development. Equally in leadership it is the people who fall under the leader’s influence who truly determines the magnitude of his or her influence.

A Chinese Proverb states, “He who says he leads yet has no one behind them is only taking a walk.”

So what are some litmus test that could be used to judge a leader’s true development or growth?Leaders_Inspire II


  • Does your team breathe a sigh of relief when they enter the staff meeting to find you’re out for the day or are they disappointed? A leader who is encouraging and energizing in meetings rarely has problems getting people to gather around them. We have all had the leader who is never satisfied or gets some kind of strange enjoyment out of pushing people down in public and/or private. Strive to be the one who brings energy to others.


Are people running to or away from you? I once had a boss who we all ducked into an office if we saw him coming down the hall. Everyone knew that as soon as his sights were on us he’d ask us a question that we didn’t have an answer to or bring up something negative to elevate himself. Be a leader who attracts people. John Maxwell’s “Law of Attraction”…Leaders attract leaders.


When was the last time you had someone ask to come work for you? When I was in manufacturing there was a Logistics Manager who people were begging to come work for her. They were even trying to create new roles so they could be under her leadership! She was personable, energizing, gave credit for work away and put people first. She never had a problem finding good talent, good talent found her. “If you help enough other people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.” Zig Ziglar


What’s the temperature of your team’s excitement and enthusiasm? Leaders set the tone for their team. If there is energy, it’s because of the leader. If people are down and out, it’s because of the leader. The leader is the thermostat, the people are the thermometer. Be a thermostat!


When you feel successful as a leader, what is your basis? We all have been recognized for accomplishments. It something that comes along with being a high-performer and go-getter. While those moments are wonderful, it should not be the measurement of how great of a leader we are. I have seen individuals get leadership awards, yet their teams roll their eyes. The true measurement of a leader is how many people they have inspired to be leaders! Make leaders out of those you lead and your legacy will live on!


Don’t let awards and recognition send a false sense of one’s ability to lead. Do the litmus test by looking at those who fall under the leaders charge. It is there that the true value of a leader can be measured.

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Does your team breathe a sigh of relief when they enter the staff meeting to find you’re out for the day or are they disappointed?