I’ve been asked more than once how to determine who the future leaders of an organization are. How to identify future leaders. Who displays the drive and desire to lead a business into the future? Who has the fortitude to weather the storm?

How to Identify Future Leaders

Don’t base leadership candidacy on the following

  • Don’t base it on tenure alone—Tenure without leadership skills and the desire to lead isn’t enough. Next man or women up isn’t a good determination of leadership ability.
  • Don’t force someone into it – If you have to convince someone to take a leadership role you have the wrong person. They gotta want it.
  • Experience and skills aren’t enough – Similar to tenure, experience can be a great asset for a leader, but not if they have no desire to lead. I’ve witnessed experienced employees who preferred working independently, put in management positions—not a good leadership strategy.
  • Be objective, not subjective – Don’t base management candidate choices on personal preferences, neither likes nor dislikes. Base it on objective criteria and observable behavior.

What should you look for?

Look for an employee that is a leader before they have the title of manager. As the late Jerry Heir once told me, “Don’t put someone in a management position and expect them to change.” That doesn’t mean that future leaders don’t need training—they do. What Mr. Heir was talking about was a person’s character and outlook. Future leaders are…

  • Helpful- Future leaders look for ways to help beyond their responsibilities.
  • Positive – Future leaders look for the upside in people and circumstances.
  • Character – Future leads show moral conviction and adhere to a set of business ethics.
  • Honest – Future leaders tell the truth even when it’s not pleasant.
  • Disciplined – Future leaders have the drive and work ethic to get the job done. They don’t give you an excuse they produce.
  • Learners – Future leaders want to improve—they want to learn and grow.

Don’t settle for less

Throwing someone into a position they’re not suited for or don’t want, is a recipe for disaster. Misplaced loyalty to a teammate based on tenure or experience alone isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, tenure and expertise coupled with a desire to help others may be the best formula for success. Take a close look at your operation, who shows the six traits listed above? Could they be one of your future leaders?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a  management training plan? Because, if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.