This article comes from Entrepreneur.
Business leaders who want to build the best possible leadership team can’t rely on impressive résumés or past experience. To identify and develop your company’s most promising leaders now and in the future, look for employees who:
Taking initiative is crucial to leading. Reward employees who come to you with solutions for problems, who step up when a project needs to be done and who seek out opportunities for professional growth. “You can’t force participation or improvement on employees who aren’t dedicated to it,” notes Krister Ungerböck, speaker, author and CEO coach. “When an employee doesn’t volunteer for more educational or professional opportunities, that should tell you how well suited he or she is for a management role.”
You’ll also want to invest in people who invest in themselves outside of work. Harvard Business Review has reported that about one-third of the most successful CEOs in the world have MBAs, so aiding your team’s educational efforts can only help your efforts to grow leaders from within.
If someone is humble about her work, she’ll always be open to suggestions for improvement. That lifelong learner mentality is crucial for leaders. “Humbleness comes with selflessness,” says Saahil Goel, CEO and founder of Kraftly. “Once you accept the equality between your team and yourself, it helps in creating a healthy learning environment in the company.”
And there’s another reason leaders should practice humility. According to psychologist Sherrie Campbell, people aren’t as eager to follow a leader who’s perceived as perfect. When leaders make themselves vulnerable, it helps others feel accepted by and connected to them. That, in turn, encourages followers to become more open to trusting and learning from leaders.
Think back to your last meeting. Was there a team member who argued persuasively for a particular course of action? Another who managed to convey next steps in a thorough but concise way? Being an effective communicator is key to being an effective leader. Leaders prepare what they’re going to say in advance, yet they’re comfortable speaking extemporaneously — the ability to think on one’s feet is an important leadership quality.
And leaders know that perhaps the biggest secret to communication is to be an active listener. “It’s more important to listen than it is to talk most of the time,” argues speaker and performance strategist Matt Mayberry. “How else can you learn about what needs to be done to improve a situation?” Fortunately, there are myriad exercises that can be used to boost your employees’ active listening skills.
In a business environment that grows more complex every day, having a team of leaders can only benefit your business. When you see the above qualities in your employees, you’ve likely identified the new leaders who can move your business forward today and act on opportunities that will deliver results tomorrow.
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