Key signs in spotting a potential leader.

July 25, 2016

HR Consultant Sue Westhead considers how we can support CEOs in identifying and developing future leaders in their businesses.

Whilst looking to further enhance our clients’ leadership programmes, I pondered how current business leaders can develop the talent in their businesses, particularly those people who could be the leaders of the future.

The development aspect comes easy when you know you have the potential to work with, but identifying that potential is much harder.meeting

As leaders we may assume that those in next level positions must have the right to succeed to the echelons of power, inherited by their time in role. But in order to take up the mantle, having experience is not the same as having potential.

Let’s question this ‘rite of passage’ which individuals have come to expect. What are the tell-tale signs?

The most telling environment in which to explore who your leaders really are, and in which to assess if they have the potential and characteristics of leadership traits, is the good old ‘meeting’. Precisely because meetings are often routine, prosaic, have information overload and (even!) are described as mundane and boring, the contrast between those who take the stage with an air of calm confidence and those who don’t is often stark: an indicator in the first instance as to those who are switched on – and those who are not.

Managers look at screens giving their information through their carefully prepared presentations. Leaders look at people in the room, not at their laptops. Leaders talk to people, they engage with them, they focus on individuals and not on their hand held technology.

Conversely, if you want your managers to remain as managers then go ahead, let them fire up their laptops and start tapping at the keys at every meeting you attend. Make it clear that the day to day tactical details of their jobs are way more important to you than the strategic issues everyone else is there to discuss. I think not!

If the topics under discussion and the news you are imparting is difficult, and you’re sat there tearing your hair out about the results your business is (or isn’t) achieving, and all you can see is your team eating more biscuits, tapping their pens, shaking their heads, looking at their phones every ten seconds and you are only 15 minutes in…you have a problem.

True leaders don’t get agitated: they are too intensely focused, they are too engaged to get nervous on a tough question and they are too invested to be bored. Composure is everything. After all, do you want to invest trust in, and hand over the delicate controls of your business to, someone who is not engaged, not alert and not focused on your results – and your people who deliver those results.

Assuming this subject is too important to you and your business to pass over, how focused and creative are you in helping this potential leadership cohort understand their individual potential – what is your succession planning really like? And how capable are you of developing others as well as yourself to be the best you can be? How will you lead your team and company to predictable success? Not sure? Then that is where HR180 comes in. We offer support at the highest level, to help you get the very best from your management team, assisting in strategy, delivery and development of your business. Call now on 0113 278 8150.





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