This is a question that comes up in various polls, groups and expert Q&A’s on social media boards repeatedly and often. You would think since the Industrial Revolution we would have evolved and managed to understand this fully, and in practice, yet still we have not come so far.
Is it that leaders themselves are ignoring the guide lines and research? Now more than ever, there is a plethora of free information out on the internet to answer this question.
So here we go again with the step by step guide on how to identify people for leadership.
Many hiring managers (who are leaders themselves) don’t understand what makes a good leader. Being technically proficient, or even expert at a certain discipline doesn’t necessarily mean you have the qualities, temperament or behavior to be a leader. Notice here I don’t mention the competencies of a leader. Competencies can be taught, but qualities, behaviors and temperament are inbuilt since about the age of six.
So what are the ‘essential characteristics of a good leader?
How do we determine if a person has all of these things, or the degree to which they are present?
There are various psychological profiling tools such as, Myers Briggs MBI type indicator, DISC profiling system, The McQuaig System (FREE demo and trial) that will help you raise the predictability of leadership potential.
These tools clearly indicate if the person is management material or not. It is highly recommended to introduce these tools into your recruitment and selection process to reduce the risk and cost of placing the wrong person in a leadership role.
2. Understand The Profile Of A Leader – in YOUR organisation.
Some companies are good at doing step 1, but then don’t tailor the requirements to your environment. Just because the candidate for leadership (internal or external) fits the ‘generic’ profile of a leader, doesn’t mean they will operate effectively, as such, in your culture and political arena.
Using a tool such as The McQuaig System gives the capability to determine what is the right leader in your culture and environment. It does this by allowing various key stakeholders nominate the behaviors that excel in your environment and apply them to the role. You can then run a matching process to see if he individual fits your environment or not.
3. Understand The Individual’s Motivators For Being A Leader
It is very boosting for one’s ego to be able to boast that they are in a leadership position, or are being groomed for it, our society is even designed around hailing leadership as the holy grail of ‘success’, however it is critical to understand if there is a driving passion for it coming from deep within the core of the individual.
I have witnessed the wreckage of far too many executives who where attracted to the ‘bright lights’ of leadership fame only years down the track to be caught in the conundrum of wanting to maintain the financial ‘trappings’ (and a trap they are) of a leadership position, but at the heart of it, they really aren’t passionate about leading people at all. They wear a brave face and fake it, more to the point. Or they are just angry and seething underneath at the trap they are in and take it out on everyone else around them. They are often the ones who where in the right place at the right time, but ARE the wrong person.
Understand the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and how they determine if an individual has leadership in their DNA or they are really after extrinsic recognition to boost their ego.
Authentic leadership is often intrinsically driven. Look for patterns of intrinsic leadership patterns throughout their career and even childhood, where possible.
There are natural leaders and then there are natural controllers. It is wise to find out the difference.
4. Identify Their Level of Self Awareness
One of the most key and critical commonalities of highly successful leaders is their high degree of self awareness and focus on personal development.
A study by Porras, Emery & Thompson in 2007 found that the most highly successful leaders over a sustained period of time had three things in common.
So what is the reason for the need of this? By being highly self aware these individuals are able to identify self limiting behaviors and thought that is impacting their effectiveness and change it for the higher good of themselves and those around them.
5. Identify If They Are Followed
If you can’t find a following, they are not a leader. They are following some one else.
Social media today gives employers the greatest inside look and high visibility into leadership and follower networks. How many people, contacts and connections are gathering around the individual? What voice are they giving to their presence? What are they saying that is new?
Other ways of determining this is by asking them what networks they are involved in and what is their relationship and level of involvement to them.
Other ways to determine their leadership behaviour is to ask them to recount the last 3 times they were placed in a unique or new group situation and describe what happened during the 3 stages of group formation (forming, storming, norming) and their role and interaction with others. Why they behaved that way and what was driving the behaviour.
Leader identification is more than a ‘gut feeling’. By following the 5 steps above you will be more informed in your determination of a good outcome.
What do you think?
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