How can an organisation identify its future leaders today?

Identifying future leadership potential is a complex issue; however there are a number of steps an organisation can take to improve its ability to identify its future leaders.  The first step in the process is to define the characteristics needed by future successful leaders.

Some of this information may be collected by looking at the characteristics of successful leaders in the organisation.  These characteristics may include:

  • Thinking style, capability and intelligence
  • Personality trails
  • Behaviour and interactions with others
  • Self motivation
  • Ability to learn.

    Once the characteristics have been identified a number of different techniques and activities can subsequently be used to assess them, for example:

  • Critical thinking, numerical and verbal reasoning tests can be used to ascertain an individual’s thinking capability and potential. The results from these tests can be benchmarked against other successful leaders.
  • Psychometric profiling instruments can identify an individual’s personality traits, likely communicating and leadership styles. How do these fit with what the organisation needs?
  • Feedback tools are valuable for assessing an individual’s performance and behaviour in the workplace.  While not a guarantee, historic performance behaviour will be a guide to how the individual is likely to perform in the future.
    Assessment Centres during which an individual undertakes a range of group and individual leadership tasks can provide a good deal of information about an individual’s personal motivation and how they lead themselves.
  • Personal challenges, for example by leading a business improvement project or charity/fund raising activity that will take the individual outside of their comfort zone and give the organisation a view of how they handle new and unfamiliar challenges.

    While the above techniques will not guarantee identification of the leaders with the greatest potential, they will provide the organisation with a good deal of objective information on which decisions about leadership potential and leadership training and development can be based.