If hiring great staff isn't hard enough, hiring leaders in your business is even harder.

So often, when we lose a key leader in the business, we look around our team, only to find in despair that no one has the ability to step up....to become the next leader. We realise we haven't spent the time to find and coach the next group of talent.

The solution to this problem is to constantly identify and coach emerging leaders, creating a constant pipeline of management talent in the waiting.

Sounds easy, but how can we identify, early on, which of our employees have leadership potential? Not so easy!

The biggest mistake often made is looking to promote those employees who are ‘technically’ great at their role on the assumption that this will naturally make them great leaders. But being the best sales person doesn't mean that this will translate into the best sales manager. Nor will an awesome waitress necessarily have the inbuilt qualities required to make an A-grade restaurant manager.

Technical competence and leadership qualities are two quite different things. So then how do we identify those employees which can become the next round of amazing leaders?

Here are six suggestions:

1. Attitude.

As the timeless quote goes, “skills can be taught, but attitude is forever.” Try as you may, but by the time you hire an employee, their attitude to life and work is pretty much set in stone. If you see an employee in your business that has one of those rare hard working, can-do, positive attitudes, look after them and recognise this trait as something essential for leadership.

2. Integrity.

Unless you plan on sleeping at your business and watching everything like a hawk forever, trust is a vital characteristic in your future leaders. You need to be able to trust that they will do the right thing by you, the business, customers and other employees, even when no-one is looking. This trait will help your relax, knowing your business is in safe hands even when you're not around.

3. Vision.

Some employees just see their job as it is, the job in front of them. Employees that see beyond this are those who have leadership qualities. Perhaps they regularly come up with business ideas outside their core area of responsibility or perhaps they constantly ask questions about the bigger picture of running a business. Regardless, this curiosity for the bigger picture is a great sign of potential.

4. Personal Lives This is a biggie. 

Personally I have experienced the disappointment of an employee who demonstrates amazing leadership potential only to realise once they are promoted, their personal life has a level of instability that makes it impossible for them to handle leadership responsibility. Whilst everyone has personal life challenges from time to time, a sign of a true leader is that they can leave these distractions at the door when they walk into work.

5. Maturity. 

Whilst there are exceptions, leadership qualities often simply come with age. Sometimes an employee may simply need more time to 'grow up' before they are ready to handle the challenges of management. If an employee can't understand how to manage themselves and their own lives, chances are they will struggle with responsibilities of managing others.

6. Accountability.

Leadership means accountability, even when you don't want it. An employee who takes responsibility for performance without exception and doesn't pass the buck or make excuses is a great sign of future potential.

So that's a wrap. Six key qualities to look for amongst your employees when deciding who has leadership potential. Some come with time and others are…well…born qualities. If you find employees who have at least 4 of these qualities make sure you invest the time to coach them in what it takes to become a leader and look to give them extra responsibilities to give them an opportunity to shine.

Cheers Simon

CEO/Founder @ RosterElf

Magically Simply Rostering Software