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The Champion Forum Podcast

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How To Identify Potential Leaders

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Senior leaders perceive leaders who cannot develop other leaders as unpromotable. In fact, developing other leaders is typically the ultimate lid for many leaders. Choosing the right leaders and helping them grow into leaders is a challenge, but it is also fulfilling and leaves a lasting impact on your team’s lives and careers. So, how do you identify and nurture potential leaders within your team? The first step is to identify potential leaders! On today’s podcast, we will discuss the leadership traits you should look for when choosing who you want to develop into a future leader.

Step 1:  Identify Future Potential Leaders

Focus more on identifying the traits of a leader rather than results alone. Results can be fleeting, but traits are sustainable and represent who a person is at their core. The most important leadership qualities involve soft skills rather than technical knowledge or industry-specific experience, making leadership traits critical in your selection process. Check out our past episode on identifying traits of a successful team here.

Leadership Traits

Positivity: The ability to work with and positively see people and situations. People who expose problems without bringing solutions are whiners and not candidates for leadership. Seek people who seek solutions!

Servanthood: The willingness to submit, play team ball, and follow the leader. Everyone can look like they have these characteristics for a little while, but you will know it is one of their traits if they have remained consistent over time.

Growth potential: A hunger for personal growth and development; the ability to keep growing as the job expands and gets more challenging. Look for people who always ask you questions about how they can improve. Additionally, look for those who follow through on your advice and report back on what they learned.

Follow-through: These people have the determination to get the job done completely and with consistency. Individuals who prioritize and consistently practice follow-through are better positioned for positive outcomes and sustained success.

Resiliency: People who display the ability to bounce back when problems arise. If they aren’t displaying resilience as an individual contributor, they will crumble when the weight of leadership is thrust upon them.

Integrity: To have trustworthiness and solid character. They are patient and do not interrupt people in meetings. They don’t gossip as a way to attract attention and put the spotlight on themselves.  They have no trouble admitting when they are wrong. They are respectful yet assertive during conflict. They don’t bend the rules for personal gain.

Discipline: Potential leaders are willing to do what is required, regardless of how they feel. When you ask for volunteers to stay late, come in early, or work a Saturday to fulfill a customer demand, who shows up? How do they take care of themselves and their belongings? People who don’t have great self-discipline rarely make great leaders!

Accountability: What we know about great leaders is that they take responsibility and are not quick to pass on blame. Making mistakes is inevitable, but how people respond when it happens is everything!  When people own their mistakes, they show that they are responsible and mature enough to admit when they are wrong, and are willing to learn from their errors. Accountable people take the initiative. Who on your team stands out as someone who does things without being asked?

Q: Have you identified any employees who could be leaders? What traits do they have? What drew you to them as a leader? Describe a time when you tried to promote someone who did not have one or more of these traits. What was the result?

Resources Referenced

Developing the Leaders Around You by John Maxwell

Navigating The Leadership Journey - JHE half-day leadership workshop

Application Activities

  1. Consider the following: What systems are in place for identifying potential leaders? Review your current systems with your boss or HR. What systems do you ensure you also consider remote employees for leadership or leadership training? How can you gather feedback from departments you work with to ensure you accurately understand your employees’ strengths?

  2. Celebrate and recognize people who exhibit these leadership characteristics, especially the traits that align with your company’s mission and values. Take some time before your weekly meetings to honor an employee who stayed late or has put in a lot of effort to grow in their position. Then, you will reinforce the same behaviors within your team.


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