As a leader, one of your most important tasks is the cultivation of new leadership at all levels around you. I would even venture to say that that raising up new leaders is more important than the short-term success of your business, because without a constant flow of quality leaders, the business will ultimately fail in the long-term. A company culture which encourages leadership development has an eye on the future and will continue to be relevant in a changing world. As you look for leaders to start investing in, here are some things you should look for:
Good leaders don’t have bad attitudes. A poor outlook from leadership is contagious and will infect the entire organization quickly, leading to the eventual demise of the group. A leader’s job is to understand and cast a vision of where they are going, even though this goal might seem unlikely or impossible to the rest of the organization. A great attitude is critical when trying to break through a wall into the unknown. This attitude can make-up for a huge lack of experience and training. Somebody who is driven and excited to be doing what they are doing has unlimited potential and will flourish as they gain more experience.
I know this one may sound strange, but you should scope out who your potential candidates hang out with, because we are naturally drawn to people similar to us. People who love sports tend to hang out with other people who love sports. People who are intelligent tend to spend time with other intelligent people. The same is true for leaders. Check out the experienced leaders you know and see who they are spending time with. You are very likely to find the future leaders of your organization eating lunch with those you consider great leaders. Leadership is an acquired skill and it will rub off if they are open and receptive. On the other hand, if you see the person you are considering hanging around with the slackers at work, you may want to look in another direction.
A Take Charge Mindset
Anytime you are part of a group, there will always be indecision. One of the easiest situations to spot a leader in is with a group of people who are trying to accomplish something. As most of the followers talk back and forth for what seems like forever, the leader will quickly emerge and begin to set the group on a path towards accomplishing the vision. Although leadership can be learned, there is natural leadership instinct. Without any official designation of authority, true leaders with natural ability will step up in situations like this and take charge. When they take the lead, the others will follow.