Companies with a stream of well-prepared leaders have a powerful and defensible competitive advantage. Identifying those with leadership potential is a difficult task. The most common approach to develop and to identify leaders is a high potential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) where high performing employees are given the support that they need to perform to the best of their abilities. Good EAP’s also provide additional training, mentoring, and other opportunities as a ‘fast track’ to management opportunities. Executing such a program and the following up on training, however, is no easy task. Not every high performing employee has leadership potential. Leadership training within itself can even be controversial.

Creating an intentional strategy for developing employees is one of the most important things you can do as a leader to impact the culture of your organisation. This is especially true for those who would categorise as future leaders. As you prepare to develop leaders, you should think about what you’re looking for in potential leaders. While there are some obvious traits leaders possess (i.e. taking initiative, working hard, good with people, etc.), here are a few specific traits you can look for, all while asking yourself these questions. Answer each of the corresponding questions, and you’ll know what you’re looking for.

1. Future leaders naturally attract followers, who has leadership potential within your Organisation?

Good leadership is contagious. If you want to identify leaders for your future teams, look for the person everyone enjoys being around. If people respect this person now, they’ll have an easier time respecting his or her leadership. People need a place where they can rise up and practice leadership and innovation. Are you speaking positively into the lives of people, especially potential leaders? If not, start doing it today.

2. Future leaders are easy to spot in meetings and their attitudes: Are They Willing?

This doesn’t mean they’re always the ones sharing their ideas. Instead, potential leaders are the ones asking the right questions, trying to learn more, and even challenging the status quo. When potential leaders have the right attitude, you can sense it they are builders.

When we say builders, we refer to individual who share five characteristics:

  • These employees love results.
  • They are seldom satisfied.
  • Employees who are builders are comfortable with uncertainty.
  • You may find them to be impatient.
  • Their ability to take initiative is contagious.

The bottom line for builders is that they always build something. They don’t just talk about the idea around it. They are accomplished, and their track record is a great indicator of their future performance—and it qualifies them to successfully try to lead others.

3. Future leaders can solve problems and handle situations well

Good leaders are problem-solvers. If you want to identify leaders in your organisation, keep and eye out for if they are gifted in solving problems and being proactive about creating solutions. Excellence is impossible in any endeavor without talent. No highly successful organisation got to where it is without talent. It isn’t possible.

How do you know potential leaders are gifted in a particular area?

  • You will notice that they will be good at it—that displays excellence.
  • They will have opportunities to use it—that creates expansion indoor organisation.
  • These employees will draw others to them—that shows attraction and their ability to lead others.

4. Future leaders bring valuable ideas to your team.

Good leaders feed off the ideas and thoughts of others. If you think a person might have the ability to become a key leader in your organisation, bring him or her in on a higher-level meeting and see how the interaction goes. Do they provide value? Are they honest in their ideas and opinions? If so, that person is displaying what it takes to champion great ideas.

5. Future leaders can handle pressure.

Pressure is the catalyst for finding a diamond in the rough. If you want to identify and develop leaders within your organisation, give them a task or an assignment that pushes them out of their comfort zone. You’ll be able to see how they handle a glimpse of the pressure that comes with any leadership role. Depending on the size of your organisation, you might have 2-3 or 20-30 individuals who possess the traits of growing into leadership. The next step is to help them grow.

If you want to be intentional about developing future leaders in your organisation, here are a few keys to consider:

  1. Create a mentorship program. Developing leaders takes intentionality. It doesn’t happen without having systems and processes in place to support it. This doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as hosting a lunch workshop once a month or allowing older generation employees to leave a couple hours early to take a younger generation employee out for coffee after work.
  2. Help older generation leaders see the value in investing in younger generation leaders. Encourage senior managers to serve as mentors and role models to the younger leaders. This will help future leaders learn the ropes more quickly and form good habits from leading others.
  3. Empower future leaders with responsibility even if it means they might fail. When young leaders are empowered, they become deeply responsible for the authority given to them. However, many young leaders are afraid to take risks that might cause them to fail. Encouraging young leaders to take risks and helping them navigate through unknown situations is an incredibly valuable way to create loyalty and help them grow.