The Torah does not introduce us to Moshe as an adult, ready to save the Jewish people. The Torah tells us of his birth and adoption by the Egyptian royal family.
Moshe’s childhood contains subtle descriptions of his nature that resulted in his eventual leadership. It is clear throughout that although brought up in the palace, he was aware that he was a Jew:
וַיְהִי בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וַיִּגְדַּל מֹשֶׁה וַיֵּצֵא אֶל אֶחָיו וַיַּרְא בְּסִבְלֹתָם וַיַּרְא אִישׁ מִצְרִי מַכֶּה אִישׁ עִבְרִי מֵאֶחָיו – It came to pass in those days. Moshe grew up, and went out to his brothers and saw their burdens. He saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man of his brothers (2:11).
He recognised the slaves as his brothers, which distressed him. His kin were suffering, but he was a prince of Egypt!
When he came across an Egyptian bully abusing a Jew, it was too much to ignore:
וַיִּפֶן כֹּה וָכֹה וַיַּרְא כִּי אֵין אִישׁ וַיַּךְ אֶת הַמִּצְרִי וַיִּטְמְנֵהוּ בַּחוֹל – He looked this way and that way, and saw that there was no-one; he attacked the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (2:12)
He made the decision to stand with his people and killed the Egyptian. An outlaw, he committed a crime against the people and land that had raised and nurtured him.
R’ Nathan Lopez Cardozo explains how this pasuk is also true of Moshe’s internal conflict. He was a walking contradiction; Egyptian and Jew, yet neither as well! He looked within, this way and that way, and saw that there was no-one. So he left the Egyptian inside him in the sand, rejecting Egyptian culture and values.
This all fits into the picture we have of Moshe before he became a leader. He was someone who would put his neck on the line for others.
That’s leadership takes.