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Pointers for Identifying Potential Leaders in Your Company

The past year has not been easy for companies and businesses, but one of the upsides is that it revealed people’s character and potential. If you’re looking for people in your company that are worthy of mentorship and leadership positions in the future, here are some steps you can take and the characteristics and attitudes you should watch out for.

Observe who showed resilience during the COVID-19 crisis.

More than looking at their productivity or output level, look for people who showed resilience during the pandemic. Resilience means accepting instances of failure and defeat and not allowing them to dissuade you from trying again. While results are a good way to get a glimpse of someone’s abilities and skills, resilience is a way to know an employee’s ability to stick it out when hard.

At the same time, studies show that U.S. workers are still finding themselves depressed and anxious a year into the pandemic. We live in abnormal times, and we can’t expect our employees to act like they normally would or perform in the same way they did pre-pandemic. A better measure of leadership skills in the time of COVID-19 is an employee’s ability to keep pressing on regardless of the internal and external challenges.

Open doors and opportunities for people to step up.

Do you want to know if someone in your team is a good leader? Place them in a leadership role. Throw them into the water and see if they will sink or swim. You could do this by intentionally putting them in a coaching or mentoring group, or you can give them a closer look at your day-to-day tasks by allowing them to experience them firsthand.

One example is by rotating tasks so that different members of your team can experience various functions and roles in your organization. A good leader is someone who sees challenges and setbacks as opportunities to grow, and those with leadership potential in your team will surely thrive even with the new tasks assigned to them.

Interview people.

Your team members know each other better than you know them, especially if you don’t get to closely work with your employees regularly. Even the simple act of asking around can help you gain insight into your organization’s potential leaders. But don’t ask too obvious questions like, “Do you think Sam is a good leader?” Instead, ask them who they think has the potential to be a good leader in the future.

You can also utilize personality assessments and predictive tools and hand them out as surveys.

Look for someone who has a sense of vision.

Find someone who looks beyond the now and sees the trends before they even happen.

One example of this is the now-defunct Blockbuster. They were known for renting out VHS tapes and then eventually DVDs and had stores pretty much in every corner. But when online streaming became the norm, Blockbuster was rendered unnecessary and outdated. By the time they tried to copy their competitors’ business and corporate growth strategy, it was already too late.

Its former CEO, John Antioco, famously rejected Netflix founder Reed Hastings’ offer to sell Netflix to Blockbuster for $50 million back in 2000. If the CEO had seen Netflix’s potential back then, Blockbuster would not have failed, and they would have owned a $194 billion company.

Identify their level of investment in the company.

Employees with high leadership potential will exhibit signs of caring about your company’s goals and future. Identify the people who intentionally contribute excellent ideas and propose new strategies to streamline processes and to improve everyone’s overall workplace experience, and don’t mind implementing those ideas themselves.

Prioritize emotional intelligence.

A company rises and falls on a leader’s level of emotional intelligence. More often than not, poor management happens because the leader of the company lacked the following:

  • The ability to convey and communicate how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking.
  • The security to admit when they made a mistake and that they need help.
  • Taking responsibility for management and leadership failure.
  • Not being motivated by wealth, power, fame, status, and approval from everyone.
  • The ability to neutrally and objectively assess and process a situation from every possible angle, digging deep until they get to the root of the problem.

The Bottom Line

Finding potential is one thing, and nurturing that potential is another. Once you identify these people, do everything you can in your power to help bring out their strengths to help accelerate their development.

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