Every organisation out there needs a team of experienced and passionate leaders.
Finding leaders within an organisation most of the time requires locating the individuals with leadership potential – it’s easier to fill the manager’s post with someone who knows the inner workings of the company rather than hiring a new person.
It’s also far less costly to source leadership candidates from your existing workforce – the recruitment process of managerial positions tends to be long and expensive.
Why do you need exceptional leaders at your organization?
Leaders are change agents who help an organisation overcome challenges. If a business faces a lack of leadership, it’s rare that it can reach its growth goals. To truly produce a high-quality product or service, you need leaders who have the authority and credibility to push the team to meet goals.
So, how do you know if someone is a good leader? Here are several important signs to which you should pay attention when searching for leader material at your company.
1. High potential, not performance
The performance of an individual helps define ability and expertise. It’s considered a parameter to identify leaders. However, we need to look beyond performance.
What you need to do, look for the employee’s aptitude and potential. Is there desire to grow?
Accept that some people are not cut out to be leaders. They could be outperforming others, that doesn’t mean they are a leader. Do they have the capacity to function in a leadership role? Or, are they content being a follower.
Potential, in most cases, should outweigh performance as a deciding factor when looking for a leader. It’s like sport, the best player on the team isn’t always the captain.
Failure is part of growth in business. That’s why it pays to check how an individual responds to failure. If a person is shying away from taking responsibility for their actions, they might not be trusted as a leader of a team or department.
Leaders will always hold themselves accountable for failure and inspire a similar type of mindset in the members of their teams. Great leaders foster a culture of accountability and empower employees to own their mistakes and treat failures as important lessons.
3. Engagement level
Does the employee proactively make suggestions for process improvement? Do they show interest in going beyond their brief to achieve high-quality results for the organisation?
If both questions can be answered with a yes, you will typically have yourself the makings of a leader. A proactive approach means they genuinely care about the company and want to use their skill set and expertise to the fullest.
For example, do they clean up around the office, or suggest ways the business can save money and become more sustainable?
I use this as an example because one employee managed to do all three of these things in one simple step, finding my business an alternate storage service called Spacer. That type of thinking shows promise.
You want a leader who doesn’t simply organize team workflows – you need someone who will constantly look for new ways of growing your business and improving team workforce. They’ll be the ones to implement new project management software or culture of innovation.
4. Communication is critical
Communication is vital for leaders. Somebody who can get the point across with little or no effort is the type of individual you are looking for. Look for a person who can explain ideas in a precise manner.
Remember, listening is a part of communication! You want a person who can listen and respond.
It’s a good idea to look for these traits during meetings – both formal and informal. If you spot someone who mediates conflicts between team members smoothly and fosters good communication practices (for example, by allowing each employee a time slot for speaking up), it’s a sign that you’ve got a potential leader in front of you.
Smart leaders know the value of soft skills and take every opportunity to hone them and use them to their benefit. That’s why another good sign is proactivity in that area, for example by attending trade shows and conferences for networking purposes.
5. Decision makers
Some people will make things happen; others will not. An individual who makes the relevant decisions to take tasks or projects to their desired and logical outcomes is the person you want. Others prefer to watch and wait for things to happen before they go along with the process.
The former is the leader. They strive for completion by becoming a part of the decision-making process.
Again, the defining characteristic of leader material is proactivity. That type of individual will always speak up if their tasks stand in stark contrast with their perspective on the company’s direction.
They won’t be afraid to speak up and make their point heard. You need someone like that for your organization to move forward.
Start giving potential leaders extra responsibility. Throw them under the bus, see how they handle it. Can they manage their regular tasks and the new ones?
Are they finding it difficult to control? Leaders will always have to maintain more than one job, and manage them well. Good leaders know how to wear many hats at the same time and not go crazy.
Managerial positions often involve a mix of skills that help the individual in switching from one task to another. Smart leaders know all the secrets of time management and will be able to take on extra workload by accommodating it into their schedules smoothly.
7. Emotional intelligence
Consider some emotional aspects about the potential leader you are looking at. Are they a good team player? Do they help others? How do they interact with others? Do they build personal relationships?
Primarily, you are looking for a selfless individual. Somebody that can use their understanding of people for the benefit of the company will always stand above somebody who can’t.
Knowing if somebody is a leader will take time, don’t rush the process. You want to see a potential leader in different situations and circumstances to gauge their potential. A good leader can be invaluable to an organisation.