3 Qualities You Should Look for When Selecting New Company Leaders

On a flight from Dallas to San Francisco I sat next to the Vice President of Talent for a large international company. He was headed to the Bay Area to teach a class of 30 aspiring corporate leaders how to succeed on their career paths.

I asked him how, out of a company of thousands of people, those 30 individuals had been selected for the leadership class. More importantly, I wanted to know what characteristics does a corporation of his size look for as they hand select the next generation of leaders? I was pretty sure his answer would apply universally to a company of any size.

Without hesitation, he rattled off the three traits his team looks for when they work with ambitious employees looking to move into leadership roles. It is interesting to note these are the same traits they focus on developing whenever a manager is struggling in his or her role leading others.

Trait #1: Aspiration

First, in order to be a great company leader, the person must truly aspire to be a leader. Many managers who struggle in their roles do so because they don’t truly want to lead others.

The most important question you can ask an aspiring leader is, “What do you want to do and why?”

Struggling managers should also be asked this question without fear they will lose the opportunity to work elsewhere in the organization should they decide to step down from a leadership role. Many people are promoted to a manager role who never truly aspired to lead others.

Tip #1: Great leaders aspire to lead others. Find servant leaders to grow your organization.

Trait #2: Capability

Next, it is important to examine if the aspiring leader actually has the capability to lead. Do they have a personality that can inspire others to accomplish the company’s mission? Are they able to hold people accountable for results and create and lead vision for their departments?

One key trait of a great leader is having empathy. In order to help coach and train your team, you must be capable of empathizing with them. Empathy is a difficult skill to teach, as it is typically learned over time.

When evaluating managers who are struggling in their roles, one of the core questions you must ask yourself is, “Are they truly capable of fulfilling this role?”

Tip #2: Leaders will demonstrate their abilities to grow and cultivate others on your team. Not everyone who aspires to be a leader is capable of rising to the role.

Trait #3: Consistency

It is often said that “great leaders are not born, they are made.” With that in mind, looking at someone’s track record is a great indicator of how they will perform in a corporate leadership role.

Specifically, you should look for consistency over time. In their current and last roles, have they built a record of success? Do they regularly achieve their goals and set new standards? Do they help others working beside them to achieve goals, too, or do they look for ways to shine solo in the spotlight?

A person’s past work history can be a great indicator of their likelihood of achieving in a leadership role.

Tip #3: An employee’s past track record is a good place to start evaluating if he or she is a good candidate for a leadership role.

While each company is different, and each leadership role has a unique set of responsibilities, looking at Aspiration, Capability, and Consistency is a great starting point for selecting the next generation of leaders at your company.

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3 Traits to Identify Great Leaders: Aspiration, Capability, Consistency.