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

So often, when we lose a crucial leader in the business, we look around our team, only to find in despair that no one can step up to become the next leader because we haven't spent time finding and coaching the next talent group.

The solution is constantly identifying and coaching 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, assuming that this will naturally make them great leaders. But being the best salesperson doesn't mean that this will translate into being the best sales manager. Nor will an excellent waitress necessarily have the inbuilt qualities required to make an A-grade restaurant manager.

Technical competence and leadership qualities are two entirely different things. So then, how do we identify those employees who can become the next round of exceptional 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 generally set in stone. So if you see an employee in your business with a rare hard-working, can-do, positive attitude, look after them and recognise this trait as essential for leadership.

2. Integrity.

Trust is vital for your future leaders unless you plan on sleeping at your business and watching everything like a hawk forever. 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 they constantly ask questions about the bigger picture of running a business. This curiosity for the bigger picture is an excellent sign of potential.

4. Personal Lives This is a biggie. 

I have experienced the disappointment of an employee who demonstrates excellent 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 come with age. An employee may need more time to grow up before they are ready to handle management challenges. If an employee can't understand how to manage themselves and their own lives, chances are they will struggle with the 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 essential 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

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