How to find Potential Leaders in your team

Hi friends, I would like to share something that I recently had to figure out as I thought about my succession planning. As a leader of group of people, I was in a lookout of who can potentially be the next leader in the team. After lot of reading of leadership pipeline and blogs, articles and combining it with own experience, I boiled it down to three pillars. I would like to share them with you, in case you are finding leaders in your team 🙂

There are three things that I call pillars of identifying a potential leader. I believe its really important for you to observe and measure in these three categories to identify next set of potential leaders in the team.
The goal I had was to identify potential leaders and have conversations with them about potential pursuit of leadership, after all leadership is a choice.

This venn diagram will give hints!

Credibility: I really think credibility is really important for someone to be considered as potential leader. What is credibility? – Its a quality of being trusted and believed in. If you have someone who you consider can be trusted and believed in probably any work and they will give their best effort to produce great result. They are credible people. The interesting part is trust, it comes when one demonstrates that ability over and over. So really people who had repeatedly delivered high quality work regardless of the problem space, are credible people in your team. After all, influence is really important for a successful leader, and it comes from being credible

Self-Motivation: People who don’t wait to be told what to do are self motivated people. They don’t settle. They always look for ways to change, improve and are hungry for tiniest bit of improvements. They find ways to accommodate those improvement in difficult times. If you want to give team a leader, that will continuously strive for improvements self-motivation is a definitely required. In my opinion, the leader of team can motivate the team, simply by exhibiting self-motivation.

Leadership: This sounds odd, I know. You may be thinking that why I am putting leadership as one of the pillars in my quest to find potential leaders? In your attempt to find your team the next leader, you need someone who have exhibited some qualities of leadership. There is so much to learn and practice in leadership (I personally still have ways to go) but anyone can demonstrate leadership traits, example finding real joy in delivering value via others, empowering others, coaching, active listening etc. Seasoned leaders sometime fail to demonstrate the above mentioned skills, so if you have someone who have demonstrated signs of above, there may be more potential. Dig in.

So I talk about these three pillars, but the way I think about is, the next most potential ideal leader would be someone who exhibits all the three things consistently.

Let’s say you you found people in your team that fit in the star in the venn diagram, now what?

The next step would be to have a conversation! Have an open conversation with them about why do you see them as potential next leader, what would it be like and are they really interested in doing something like this. So many leaders assume that everyone wants to be a leader, I know so many people that find pure joy in just being individual contributor and thats totally ok! so just because you thought of them as leaders, doesn’t mean they did, so talk to them and have an open career conversations.

What if you didn’t find someone, or found someone close enough but exactly there. It’s still our jobs to have a conversation and see where they want to go, what they want to do and if they want to be a leader, what are the next steps to bridge the gap! Have a career conversation, have them prepare a plan for bridging the skills. At minimum, they will find it really encouraging that you saw potential in them and are willing to work with them on their strengths and improvements

Cheers, hope this helps you in your quest of finding new leaders in your org.