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  • Melissa Sims

Identifying Potential

As much as we deal with leadership development, its not hard to believe that we see all kinds of potential just waiting to be realized. As leaders yourself, it is so important to recognize that one of your responsibilities is to develop more leaders; contributing to your team and organization in an impactful way. 

Identifying potential leaders within your team is a critical aspect of successful leadership. Leaders not only steer the ship towards its goals but also inspire and motivate their teams, foster a positive work environment, and drive innovation. However, recognizing these individuals isn't always straightforward. 

The first step in identifying potential leaders is to understand what qualities and competencies make a good leader. These often include, but are not limited to:

Visionary Thinking: The ability to set clear goals and have a strategic approach to achieving them.

Emotional Intelligence: High emotional intelligence enables leaders to manage their emotions and understand and influence the emotions of others.

Decisiveness: The capacity to make decisions promptly and effectively, even in uncertain situations.

Integrity: Consistently demonstrating honesty and strong moral principles.

Communication Skills: The ability to clearly and persuasively communicate ideas, listen actively, and foster open communication.

Resilience: The strength to face challenges head-on, adapt to change, and recover from setbacks.

Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others, which is crucial for team building and conflict resolution.

You likely already know the qualities a great leader possesses, just take a look in the mirror! Identifying these traits in another person takes a little more work, and some intuition. Here are some steps you can take to identify potential leaders. 

Regular performance evaluations are a foundational method for identifying potential leaders. Look for employees who consistently exceed their targets and demonstrate a high level of competence in their current roles. However, performance alone isn't indicative of leadership potential; it's also important to assess how they achieve these results. As you know, isn’t always black and white and there are tons of factors that can derail hitting numbers.

Observing how employees interact with others and handle various situations can provide insights into their leadership potential. Potential leaders often naturally take charge in group settings, offer help to colleagues, and can mediate conflicts effectively. They also demonstrate a proactive approach to solving problems and improving processes. Also observe how they handle failure, as it can be a key indicator if they have the ability to move forward through adversity.

Direct conversations can reveal a lot about an employee's ambitions, perspectives, and potential leadership qualities. Ask about their career aspirations, views on leadership, and ideas for organizational improvement. These discussions can unveil hidden talents and a desire for leadership roles.

360-degree feedback. This method involves gathering feedback from an employee's supervisors, peers, and subordinates. It provides a holistic view of their interpersonal skills, work ethic, and ability to collaborate and lead. Employees who receive positive feedback across the board are likely showing signs of leadership potential.

Implementing leadership development programs can help in identifying and nurturing potential leaders. Our programs are designed to challenge participants, develop critical leadership skills, and provide them with opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities.

Assign staff to lead projects or initiatives that align with their skills and interests. This gives them a platform to showcase their leadership abilities, decision-making skills, and how they mobilize and inspire others towards achieving a common goal.

Utilize coaching. Through mentorship and coaching, they can gain insights into effective leadership, navigate challenges with the support of our staff, and refine their leadership skills in a real-world context.

Even with all of these tools, sometimes your intuition might be your best compass to identifying talent. Trust your gut. You are in this position because someone saw your potential - return the good deed!

Identifying potential leaders is only the first step; supporting their growth is equally important. This can involve personalized development plans, ongoing training, regular feedback, and opportunities to take on increasing responsibilities. Encouragement and recognition are also crucial for motivating potential leaders to pursue their growth actively.

It's important to recognize that not every high-performing employee will want to take on a leadership role, and pushing them into such positions can lead to dissatisfaction and burnout. Furthermore, biases in the identification process can overlook hidden talents. An inclusive approach that values diverse perspectives and leadership styles is essential for uncovering the full spectrum of potential leaders within your organization.

Identifying and nurturing potential leaders within your organization requires a strategic and multifaceted approach. By understanding what makes a good leader, employing various strategies to recognize these qualities in your staff, and supporting their development, you can ensure that your organization is poised for success with a strong leadership pipeline. Remember, leadership potential can be found at all levels of an organization, and unlocking this potential is key to fostering innovation, driving performance, and achieving long-term objectives.

Remember, we have a ton of resources for you, and we are your support system. You might be interested in our Dynamic Leadership Certification Program, where we can help you to shape your potential leaders into a driving force on your team. Additionally, we have one-on-one coaching available to you, as well as site-specific leadership development trainings. Reach out to us! We are here to help you and your team realize their full potential. You can visit our website for more info, or shoot us an email at


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