What do Demi Lovato, Barack Obama, and J.K. Rowling all have in common? They're all Leos, according to astrological zodiac signs! These people also exhibit some of the Leo zodiac sign's strongest traits, including being gifted, persevering leaders.
But there's more to being a Leo than having leadership qualities! In our crash course on understanding and relating to the people in your life (or yourself!) who fall under the Leo sign, we'll cover the following:
- Explain what a Leo is
- Define eight key Leo traits, including the sign's strengths and weaknesses
- Describe Leo characteristics in romantic, platonic, and professional relationships
- Give you advice for being the best Leo you can be
- Give others tips for relating to the Leos in their lives
Now, let's get to know this August zodiac sign!
Leos get many of their defining traits from the Greek myth of the Nemean lion.
What Is a Leo?
So, how do you know if you're a Leo? Dates for a Leo birthday range (approximately) from July 23 to August 22. This is when the sun is passing through Leo as it makes its way around the Earth. That means Leo is definitely a summer sign, which is partly why Leos tend to have such fiery personalities.
Astrology tells us that Leo is the fifth sign of the Zodiac, following Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer. The Leo sign is ruled by the Sun and is of fixed quality—this means that brightly burning Sun fixes the Leo personality type into a consistent, mostly unchanging set of traits.
Leo's ruling element is fire, and its zodiac symbol is a lion. Both of these symbols help explain the defining Leo characteristics. Like a crackling fire, Leos tend to be warm, passionate, and dynamic. They delight in opportunities to let their charismatic, inclusive personality shine.
And like the lion that represents them, Leos are also strong, brave, and ready to dominate everything they set out to do. Once Leos set a goal, they pursue it with single-minded determination. If a Leo sets their mind on something, everyone better get out of their way!
We've mentioned that Leos are often associated with lions, both in terms of personality and behavior. But many people don't realize that the Leo zodiac sign is associated with the Greek myth of the Nemean Lion.
As the story goes, the Nemean Lion terrorized the Nemean villagers who lived near him. Many versions of this myth say that the Nemean Lion would kidnap women and hold them in his lair in order to lure warriors to their deaths. What all the stories agree on, however, is how vicious the Nemean Lion was. It was huge and ferocious, and it couldn't be killed with mortal weapons because of its impenetrable fur.
Eventually, King Eurystheus sends his cousin, Heracles, to kill the lion. To do so, Heracles waits until the lion returns to its lair, then Heracles strangles it with his bare hands. The goddess Athena then helps Heracles skin the lion, and he uses the impenetrable pelt as armor.
While the Nemean Lion was definitely the villain in this story, this story also highlights the strength, cleverness, and tenacity of the lion. While the Nemean Lion may not have used these qualities for good, that doesn't mean modern-day Leos can't. When Leos are at their best, they can channel the characteristics of their namesake to do great things for both themselves and those around them!
This is the astrological symbol for Leos!
The 8 Key Leo Characteristics
Now that you have a general sense of what a Leo is, it's worth spending more time investigating Leo traits.
Every personality type has its strengths and weaknesses, and those who fall under the Leo astrology sign are no different. If you're a Leo, it's important to understand what makes you tick. As a Leo who craves success, this is a key first step on your journey to greatness! Knowing the ins and outs of your Leo personality can help you maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
Understanding Leo characteristics is important for anyone who has a Leo in their lives, though. When you understand your Leo partners, family members, friends, and coworkers, you can encourage their growth and help them check themselves when they get a little unruly.
With that in mind, let's take a look at Leo traits and this Zodiac sign's four biggest strengths and weaknesses.
Top 4 Leo Strengths
When you think of lions and fire, you probably think big and loud, commanding and powerful, warm and dazzling. These admirable qualities of lions and fire pretty much sum up the traits that make the Leo astrology sign special. The Leo personality is most commonly known for exhibiting four key strengths: generosity and big-heartedness, self-confidence, determination, and natural leadership.
Strength 1: Generosity and Big-Heartedness
Do you have a friend who would give you the shirt off their own backs if you needed it? Maybe you have a cousin or sibling that is known for giving the best birthday gifts ever. If you do, there's a good chance that person is a Leo.
The thing about Leos is that they have a lot of love to give. If a Leo finds a place for you in their heart, consider yourself lucky: Leos tend to be extremely generous with their time, attention, affection, and money. As a result, Leos tend to attract people to them...so don't be surprised if the Leos in your life have a pretty considerable entourage!
Strength 2: Self-Confidence
Self-confidence comes easily to Leos as well. Like their lion symbol, Leos know they're powerful and commanding, and they aren't afraid to show it. Leos are the type of people who can wear their hair in a crazy new style (just because they want to!), and within weeks it's become the new trend. Leos aren't afraid to like what they like, and they carry themselves with such incredible confidence that they can convince other people to like it, too.
Because Leos couple their own self-confidence with a generous spirit, Leos often tend to be excellent cheerleaders for those around them. Worried about passing a test? Your Leo friend is sure you're going to do great. Have a big competition coming up? Your Leo friend will not only help you practice, they'll convince you that you'll win no matter what!
Strength 3: Determination
Leos are also persevering and determined, making them pretty much unstoppable when you consider how much their self-confidence they have. When Leos set out to achieve something, they aren't going to stop until it's done (and done right). Their determination is usually fueled by an unflaggable optimism, which carries them through even when the road to achieving their goals gets rocky.
The result are people who chase after huge goals. Leos don't want to just climb any mountain, they want to tackle Everest! Consequently, Leos are known for setting their sights on huge goals...and achieving them.
Strength 4: Natural Leadership
Finally, Leos are often naturally gifted leaders. Self-confidence, determination, and big heartedness are traits that most people admire and desire, so it's no surprise that Leos are often well-suited to lead others. Their charisma draws people to them, and their self-confidence inspires trust in their abilities. Additionally, their generosity and optimism breeds loyalty in those they lead. If you know someone who gets elected to lead group projects or student organizations without even trying, there's a good chance you're dealing with a Leo!
One of Leos's major weaknesses is an inability to accept criticism. Remember that criticism isn't mean—it's how you get even better!
Top 4 Leo Weaknesses
The thing about strengths is that, when taken to the extreme, they can morph into weaknesses. The main Leo characteristics may include big-heartedness, self-confidence, determination, and good leadership, but there's a flip side to each of those qualities, too. When the coin flips, you're likely to catch a glimpse of four biggest weaknesses of this August zodiac sign.
Here's a guide to the four Leo traits that are commonly known as this sign's "shadow side."
Weakness 1: Naïveté
The generosity and big-heartedness of the Leo personality can leave them open to disappointment. Leos open their hearts to many people, and they aren't stingy with who they extend generosity to either. Undeserving recipients of a Leo's kindness might see Leos as easy targets to take advantage of. Leo's trusting nature can leave them blindsided when their loyalty isn't reciprocated, and hurt when their generosity is met with ingratitude.
Well-balanced Leos make sure that they're surrounding themselves with people they trust that can help them see when they're being mistreated. Look for people born under the Aries or Sagittarius signs—these people tend to be very perceptive and honest, and they can help protect you from one-sided relationships.
Weakness 2: Arrogance
Leos, when at their worst, can become arrogant. Self-confident Leos aren't afraid to show that they love and value themselves and are proud of their gifts and abilities. But Leos are known for being "all-in" people...and when you go all-in on yourself, you can become egotistical. Arrogant Leos tend to make everything about them, and they can become dismissive of people who don't share the same goals and determination they do.
To avoid this, Leos need to make sure they temper their confidence with a healthy dose of humility. Doing this makes sure that you keep your ego in check. In the long run, this will be key to building strong relationships that will support you as you chase your goals.
Weakness 3: Stubbornness
Leo's determination can translate as stubbornness. Leos work hard to achieve their goals and to honor their commitments. The Sun's strong rulership of this zodiac sign means that Leos aren't likely to be persuaded to take an alternative route to meeting their goals, and their independent spirit often keeps them from asking for help when they need it. In these situations, Leo's willfulness can look like stubbornness to others.
As leaders, it's important for Leos to be able to stick to their guns and chase their vision. But remember that even the best ideas are made better when people work together. (It's not all about you, remember?) The best way to do this is to surround yourself with people who are good at creating unity and consensus, like Pisces and Virgos.
Weakness 4: Inability to Accept Criticism
Finally, Leos love for taking the lead can mean that they struggle to take criticism. Leos are used to being loved by everyone, and their charisma tends to get them out of even the tightest situations. But Leos aren't immune to making bad decisions—and when they get called out on them, they tend to take it pretty poorly. When you're too self-confident, you can fall into the trap of thinking you don't make mistakes. (Spoiler alert: everyone makes mistakes!)
Well-rounded Leos know this about themselves and work hard to be open to other people's opinions, both of their ideas and of themselves. They practice not taking criticism personally, which is an important skill for leaders to have. It's a good idea to surround yourself with people you can trust, like Cancers or Capricorns. That way, you know that you're being told the truth...even if the truth hurts.
Leos in Relationships
If you're wondering what kind of behavior you can expect from a Leo in a romantic, platonic, or professional relationship, wonder no more: here's a quick guide to Leo's go-to relationship moves with SOs, friends, and coworkers.
Leos in Romantic Relationships
When it comes to romantic relationships, Leos are known for their intense passion. Leo's zest for life extends to their intimate relationships, where they're known for being playful, fun, loyal, and sincere. If you've caught a Leo's eye, they'll let you know; Leos aren't afraid to share their feelings, and they won't mince words when telling you how they feel.
Leos expect a deep commitment, undivided attention at the right moments, and adventure from their romantic partners. But most of all, Leos want a partner who matches their passion—both romantically and otherwise. Such intense energy can become exhausting for some partners, however, so it's important for a Leo's lover to be assertive about their own needs and wants when the Leo's fire burns a little too hot.
Curious if the Leo in your life could be a potential soulmate? Leos are most romantically compatible with people born under the Sagittarius, Aries, Aquarius, and Libra signs. Sagittarius is Leo's ideal match because they're both fixed fire signs, able to bring the intensity and passion that the other desires. Leos are also compatible with Aries, another fire sign; they share an aggressive energy that both signs respect. On the other hand, Aquarius's characteristic air element is able to fan Leo's flames—in other words, these opposites attract. Last is Libra, another case of a good fit between opposites: air sign Libra's taste for peace and harmony can calm and balance Leo's flair for the dramatic.
If you're not one of these signs but are in love with a Leo, don't worry. Knowing what Leos need out of relationships (and knowing what you need, too), is the biggest key to making your relationship work.
One of the keys of being friends with a Leo is accepting that everyone wants to be friends with a Leo!
Leos in Platonic Relationships
If you've got a friend who's a Leo, you might feel like you're one of one hundred! That's because people are drawn to Leo's charisma, self-confidence, generosity, and loyalty. In other words, everybody wants to be friends with Leos.
Leos' friendships often extend to many different types of people, surrounding them with a big, eclectic group of friends. And when the group of friends gathers, Leos are usually right at the center, entertaining people with their sense of humor...or making a scene with the latest interpersonal drama.
Whether they're putting on a good show or stirring the pot, Leos are in search of a good time, and they delight in bringing the fun and excitement to the people they care about. If you're friends with a Leo, you'll probably find yourself in the passenger's seat for new adventures, coaxed into completing crazy dares, and dragged to the center of the dance floor. Leos love to be in the spotlight, and their courageous spirit often results in them setting the tone in social situations and expecting their squad to fall in line. Leos will be upfront about what they want and need in their friendships, and they won't apologize for putting it all out there.
But you can also expect your Leo friend to be in your corner no matter what. They bring the same fierce passion that fuels their pursuit of recognition, leadership positions, and adoration to nurturing their friendships. Though Leos tend to be highly independent, they will protect their friends and loved ones at all costs. Leos are known for being committed to an unchanging set of values; if you're lucky enough to be their friend, you'll find that loyalty and dependability in their relationships are two of them.
Leos in Professional Relationships
Leos have to make a buck like everyone else, so what can you expect from the Leo who shares your cubicle or signs your paycheck? In professional relationships, Leos are known for being energetic, creative, optimistic, and ready to take charge. Leos are well-suited for leadership roles in professional environments, especially when they're given a lot of freedom and their skills match up to the task at hand. Chances are you might work for a Leo and, if you don't, the ones you work with probably jump at the chance to take the lead on projects or mentor others.
While Leo's determination to take the lead might come across as bossy or self-centered to colleagues who don't know them very well (or when they're having an off-day), Leos are often simply focusing their energies on getting the job done right because they're truly dedicated to their work. In the interest of meeting a goal or perfecting a project, Leos might occasionally lose sight of the value of being a team player, allowing their characteristic individualism to take over as they search for the most effective way to get the job done.
At the end of the day, Leo traits can be very useful in the workplace. Leos just want space to think and act creatively at work, opportunities to the lead on things they excel at, and to help others find the most effective path to success. If you work with a Leo, you work with a go-getter; if you get to know the Leo you work with, you might find a loyal advocate and a teammate who will jump at the opportunity to brainstorm, offer honest feedback, or shoulder some of your load when you need a hand.
If you're a Leo, read on to learn about how you can be your best self.
Advice for Leos
Knowing our strengths and weaknesses gives us power, so of course you want to understand the Leo characteristics that you exhibit and create habits that allow you to maximize the ones you're proud of. Here are four things you can do to make the most of your amazing Leo personality!
Let Others Shine Too
As a Leo, you might love to be in the spotlight, and you probably have impressive talents to put on display. Chances are you're used to being successful—maybe even to being the best. But Leos can feel threatened when they're around others who attract the spotlight as well, sometimes feeling jealous or threatened by their successes.
Just remember that the success of others isn't a threat to your own! There's plenty of room for everyone to shine bright. In fact, being able to celebrate others' victories—especially those of your friends, family, and colleagues—will help you be content with who you are in the long run. The most balanced Leos lift everyone up around them, which in turn, helps them shine brighter, too.
Leos are ruled by the bright bright sun—it never wanes or falters for this zodiac sign. Like the unrelenting sun, Leos can be inflexible about their standards and expectations, for both themselves and others. Honoring your commitments is important, and staying true to your values allows you to live a life of consistency. There's a feeling of safety in being certain about what you can expect from yourself and from others.
Life can't always conform to our expectations, though, and neither can other people. Being flexible about the commitments in your life can leave space for the unexpected, and it can shield you from disappointment every time things don't go exactly according to plan. Try to practice flexibility whenever you can to get used to the feeling. This can be as small as letting someone else choose where to go to dinner! Letting go of the reins sometimes may take practice, but in the end, you'll be happier for it.
Don't Be Afraid to Rely on Others
The lion symbol represents one of the Leo sign's greatest strengths: bravery. Courageous and fearless, Leos typically pursue their goals and ambitions with great determination. They aren't likely to be phased when the going gets tough, either, since Leos are also known for their physical and mental fortitude. And even when Leos aren't feeling strong and confident, they'll fake it till they make it.
But even the strongest need support sometimes, and the benefit of being a Leo is that you probably have a wide support network to turn to. It's totally healthy to call on a friend if you get tired. Just because you're expected to lead all the time doesn't mean you have to! Putting on a show of strength when you're feeling down has its merits, but so does allowing yourself to just be human like everyone else.
Be Honest, But not Brutal
Honesty is a valued quality in relationships, and Leos are consistently honest with the people they love and work with. Combined with a Leo's socially dominant personality, their attempts at honesty can sometimes come across as insensitive.
Remembering that it's good to be honest but not brutal will save you a lot of heartache in your relationships. Slowing down and thinking about the needs of the person you're being honest with can help you communicate with them in a way that makes them feel loved and valued. And, don't forget to show the same empathy to the one person a Leo can tend to be the most unforgivingly honest with: yourself.
Advice for Relating to Leos
Whether you love a Leo, claim one as your BFF, or get teamed up with one at work, you'd probably benefit from a little advice on how to relate to these bright, passionate humans. We recommend trying these three things to help you find harmony in your relationships with the Leos of the world and make use of positive Leo traits.
Let Them Love You!
Leos love to share their gifts with the people around them—they thrive when they're able to extend generosity to others. A Leo's desire to give gifts or pick up the check for social outings with the ones they care about could be overwhelming for some more reserved star signs, but the best way to relate to a Leo on this is to let them be generous. Accept their gifts. Let them cover the bill when they're insistent. Express gratitude.
And, the best way to relate to a generous Leo? Have a good time! Leos love to see you enjoying the fun they bring to the table.
Leo's aren't really great with subtlety. Upfront and honest, Leos are most likely to respond well when you're direct with them. If you're upset with a Leo in your life, dropping hints or huffing and puffing hoping they'll pick up on your body language isn't likely to get you the response you're looking for.
Instead, tell them precisely what it is you want or need. If something's bothering you, be straightforward about it. But, when you do, remember that Leos can feel threatened if they sense their character is being questioned or you're criticizing their personality. Reminding your Leo that you love, value, and respect them—even when you're upset with them!—can help them receive your feedback with grace.
Leos respond well to kind words. They're proud of who they are, and they're at their best when they know the people they surround themselves with are proud of them too. If you're looking for a way to give a Leo a morale boost, just put it into words.
Whether it's a thoughtful text, shoutout in your Instagram story, or a handwritten note, Leos feel most loved when they hear you say it. Don't hold back on helping Leos see the best parts of themselves when they forget how bright they shine—just do it with words of encouragement.
Want to learn more about the western Zodiac? Start by reading our guide to the symbols of the Zodiac here, then follow up with our sign-specific guides to Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer.
Curious about other kinds of personality categorizations? There's a lot of overlap between people with Leo personality traits and people who fit into the Enneagram Type 8 framework. You can also learn more about what the Enneagram is and all nine types here.
You can also use what you've learned about your Zodiac sign to set yourself up for long-term success. Here's what we mean: check out this list of our top tips for time management. Which ones fit best with your Leo personality? Try those out, and we bet you'll see a big improvement in your time management skills!
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.