Future leaders: Who has the right stuff?

by Iain Hopkins16 Jun 2015

The role of HR
The most important message for HR professionals is to understand that the senior executive team must be involved in the process of grooming upcoming leaders; they shouldn’t feel obliged to ‘do it all’ themselves. Secondly, they need to make it clear to other executives how critical leadership development is, and be able to target the areas where the company is most vulnerable if it loses leadership.

“The HRD’s job is to bring to the notice of the CEO where these vulnerabilities exist in the organisation and then work with the CEO to put in place an open, transparent and measurable development program that can develop new leaders from within,” says Lear.

He also suggests that HR can be critical for spotting potential in unexpected places. “What I’ve found is that leadership comes from some strange places. You can have someone sitting quietly in an organisation and not appearing to be a great leader. But when they are put under pressure or when they get the opportunity they naturally take up the leadership mantle. Programs need to be directed by the CEO and assisted by the HR director – because the HRD often has a broader perspective of the potential within the organisation than the CEO.”

Key take-aways: Identifying future leaders
Although there are countless assessments on the market to assess personality and aptitude for leadership roles, Gary Lear of Development Beyond Learning suggests there are 10 questions to ask in order to identify potential future leaders
  1. Have they got a proven track record of accomplishing impressive results?
  2. Do they take charge and make things happen?
  3. Do they inspire with confidence?
  4. Can they lead with persuasion and influence?
  5. Do other people trust them?
  6. Does this person have an understanding of how to separate the what from the how?
  7. Do they have a global perspective?
  8. Do obstacles stop this person or are they able to push through?
  9. How does this person deal with multitasking?
  10. Do unexpected changes affect this person’s performance?

Key take-aways: Leadership traits
Gary Lear believes there are eight characteristics that a person with leadership potential should have.
  1. Self-understanding and the ability to modify their behaviours to the situation.
  2. Strategic direction and clarity on three areas: people, purpose and profit.
  3. The ability to inspire and motivate others (and themselves) to high performance
  4. The ability to identify problems but also develop solutions
  5. A focus on results
  6. The ability to collaborate with other individuals and team works
  7. Being a champion of change
  8. Being a powerful communicator


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