I'm filling out a short resume sort of form to apply for a volunteer leadership position and one question I need to answer is, "Why do you want to come back as a leader? What makes you good for this position?"

I am a born leader with strong leadership qualities and I would like to make them known without seeming arrogant or desperate. I know that arrogance is a turn-off in many workplaces.

I do have experience in leadership positions, so simply stating my past experience might be all I need to do. However, past experience comes in a different section of this resume, and both items are required.

How can I say I am an outstanding leader without directly stating such and without seeming arrogant?

My question is - How can I express my experience as being a (good) leader without coming across as arrogant?

  • Although this is a valuable question, what kind of skill to better interact with others do you hope to improve upon? Mar 27, 2018 at 19:47
  • 4
    @baldPrussian I'd say he's pretty clear. He wants to promote himself without coming across as arrogant. That's pretty standard.
    – user4548
    Mar 27, 2018 at 20:55
  • Comments and answers about whether or not the OP is a good leader are not welcome here as they do not comply with the Be Nice policy. We're here to answer the question, not to judge the OP's leadership abilities.
    – Catija
    Mar 29, 2018 at 14:14
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    Have you had problems with subordinates proving deficient in their capacity to appreciate and respond to your born leadership? Mar 29, 2018 at 16:07
  • 2
    If you're doing it on a resume, this would probably be suited to Workplace. Apr 10, 2018 at 19:10

6 Answers 6


First rule: SHOW, DON'T TELL

One thing that is useful in selling yourself in job hunting and other aspects of life are what are called "CAR stories" C.A.R. stands for

  • Challenge
  • Action
  • Result

So, to sell your leadership skills, put things in terms of what leadership challenge you faced, what actions you took and what was the end result.

I remember when we were faced with a widget shortage and we were at risk of shutting down. Senior management was unavailable, so I took it upon myself to send Bob to a supplier an hour away so he could pick up enough widgets to last us until the shipment came in. We didn't have to shut down and management was impressed when they heard.

You don't say "Hey, I'm a fantastic leader" you show the fact by telling stories about things that you have actually done. SHOW them your leadership skills through your C.A.R. stories.

You may want to look into picking up THIS BOOK for examples.

  • 38
    Yep, the problem isn't that it sounds arrogant. It's that everyone will claim that and it's a meaningless claim without something specific to back it up.
    – Kat
    Mar 28, 2018 at 0:27

Don't say "outstanding leader".

Outline the traits and practices that make you an outstanding leader. Outline your leadership experience and accomplishments. If you are an "outstanding leader" then you should have good communication and influence skills.

  • 8
    In this vein, it may be beneficial, or at least clarifying, for the OP to articulate to the person they're communicating with what "leadership" even means to the OP. One person's idea of leadership might be "good at cracking the whip", while another's "good at organizing people", and a third's "good a empowering people", and a fourth's "charismatic". For resume-like scenarios, it may be more beneficial to focus on what "leadership" translates to in terms of what you can deliver to the organization. Mar 28, 2018 at 4:42

Break things down.

An IT professional applying for an IT job will not get the job if their CV truthfully says

I'm good with computers.

As a born leader with strong leadership qualities you will know the specific qualities, so list them.

  • 4
    Of course, if the resume comes with a letter of recommendation saying, "No really. He's good with computers. We don't know how, but when he enters the room, the computers start working properly," they might hire him on the spot. =)
    – Cort Ammon
    Mar 29, 2018 at 0:13

Agreed the show don’t tell advice is perfect. But you can give examples, a few stories about how your leadership made a difference or how you took over when a leader had failed or similar situations.

Also, what about what other people have said about you? Perhaps you have an award, maybe you can refer to somebody who had claimed you were good leader or said something worth mentioning about you.

Are there accomplishments you have that will back up your claim of being a good leader? For example if you were a Boy Scout, the leader of a Boy Scout troop or simply the leader of something else you could talk about how effective your leadership was in different situations.

Other specific situation that you could mention are where your leadership came in handy, if a child was in trouble and you helped, or someone was confused and you lead them to clarity.


Leadership is not a single trait, particularly in a business setting. Off the top of my head, some different types of leadership are:

  • General leadership involves building consensus and keeping large groups involved without wasting people's time
  • Project leadership involves juggling the different tasks and delegating properly
  • Personal leadership involves having a strong personality that draws people to you
  • A department leader would have a great feel for their reports' skills, interests, and growth.
  • Technical leadership involves an in depth knowledge of an area and being able to quickly see how it can be applied in different ways.

Again, not an exhaustive list, but the point is a technical leader is very different from a personal leader, and some forms of leadership are more subtle then others. Citing examples of leadership success is great, but you should introspect a bit more and go into the source of your strength.

"When I stepped in to lead the development of Project X, it was pretty obvious that nobody was on the same page for the requirements. It took some massaging once I opened that Pandora's box, but once the requirements were sorted out everything else fell into place, and that is how I cured cancer."


Generally I would not at all include a favorable assessment of myself. The reason is that

  1. Such a statement is factually worthless to the reader because it is necessarily biased.

  2. It also shows that you are not aware of the bias, which is a negative information about your judgement.

  3. It shows that you are full of yourself, which is a negative information about your character.

Sorry for being so harsh; I mean well.

What you can and should do (apart from including the obvious list of provable achievements) is to include statements which other people have made about you. Those do not suffer from the defects I listed.

Did people love to work in your teams because it was fun and productive? Did your superiors commend you for solving difficult situations? Are you having standing offers to come back which you cannot accept for personal reasons so that you are forced to look elsewhere?

  • Good answer except on this sentence you should stop here: "Such a statement is factually worthless". Also outstanding leaders are often (usually) very arrogant and narcissistic and shamelessly promote themselves in less direct ways i.e. speaking of their passion, vision, goals, etc.
    – Sam
    Mar 29, 2018 at 14:32

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