You know you should develop future leaders. It’s one of your primary leadership responsibilities. But how do you find those future leaders? How do you know if someone will be successful as a leader?
As I have said again and again, you must make a concerted effort to know the people on the team. Sometimes someone will just stand out as having great potential. However, often good future leaders aren’t as obvious. You need to look for them.
There are a couple of places to look for potential leaders. One is the informal groups that develop in any organization. Recognize where these groups are and who seems to lead them. They are the ones people turn to for help or clarification. Sometimes these people are quiet and non-confrontational, they may not even consider themselves to be leaders. But when things need to be done, you’ll find them in the middle of it.
Another place to find potential leaders is among the workers who seem to accomplish more than their peers. This requires careful assessment on your part as sometimes just who is making things work is not easy to spot. But chances are there are a couple of people who are the catalyst for success or are at least working hard to make things happen. These are the people you’ll want to seriously evaluate.
Be careful of people who are just loud. They are normally the ones complaining about this policy or that assignment. You’ll probably notice that when there is discontent, they are in the middle of it. Always ready to tell anyone who will listen that something is unfair; they seldom if ever have any suggestions for a better way and seem to think their only purpose in life is to complain. To be fair, some of these people can be turned into good leaders, but doing so is hard.
Always be on the lookout for that “diamond in the rough.” Every so often you’ll have someone on your team who, at first glance, doesn’t seem to possess much leadership potential. But, as you observe them, you see a little spark of something, maybe a little leadership talent that is masked by a gruff or even unfriendly exterior. This isn’t the loud person I mentioned. It’s someone who is a contributing member of the organization, but who comes across as unpolished and maybe a little coarse. This person may be a little more difficult to develop, but the extra effort will produce a superior leader.
More than 40 years of leading teams and developing other leaders has proven to me that almost anyone can become a good leader if they have the desire. But, sometimes they aren’t immediately obvious. Seek them out. You’ll be glad you did.
For video leadership tips go to Bob’s YouTube Channel.