“How do I identify and develop the next generation of leaders?”
This is a question frequently asked by leaders across the globe. Unfortunately, there is a trend in many organizations and teams toward selecting emerging leaders based solely on productivity and efficiency. While these are desirable criteria for any team member, are they really the best standard for leadership selection. A great mentor of mine once told me, “What made you successful as an individual contributor will not make you successful as a leader.” This means that the best producers won’t necessarily be the best leaders. With this in mind, what criteria should be used to select the right people for leadership opportunities?
Most leadership development frameworks focus solely on identifying talent and developing skills. While these are two immensely important components of effective leadership, leaders who last have another key characteristic: strong character.
Character has become an essential criteria to identifying emerging leaders within WinShape Teams. As Mark Miller, Vice President of High Performance Leadership, Chick-fil-A Inc. has often stated, “If your heart isn’t right, no one cares about your skills.” The unfortunate product of leaders who possess great talent and skills but low character are situations in which leaders horde power and compromise organizations, teams, and contributing individuals’ ability to positively impact the world around them (this effect is seen in the Enron and Epi pen scandals). As we look to develop the next generation of leaders, what is needed is a framework to develop a leadership perspective. If leadership perspective is allowed to follow the shifting trends of society, the result will be a schizophrenic leadership culture—an erratically shifting philosophy that lacks direction or purpose.
Integrity of heart and skillful hands are the attributes of leaders who last. Leaders with strong character and effective leadership skills will stand the test of time.
My encouragement to those looking for leaders who will last is to ask the following questions:
Are people already following them?
- These are people who just lead wherever they are; a title or formally designated leadership role is not a necessary prerequisite.
- Do they assume informal leadership roles in the workplace and/or other areas of life?
- Do people readily accept their leadership?
Do they have integrity of heart?
- Character is the primary ingredient in leaders who last.
- Is their character such that you would trust them with tough decisions?
- Do they have strong values that align with those of the organization?
Do they have a growth and learning mindset?
- Do they take responsibility for their own growth and maturation?
- Are they willing to change when change is necessary?
- Are they willing to be uncomfortable?
Once emerging leaders are identified using these criteria, specific leadership skills can be developed, resulting in a leader who lasts.