Whether it is through internal selection or external hiring, an organisation looks at several characters in a candidate to justify selection into a leadership position. An organisation’s leadership development strategy should always consider ingraining certain attributes and capabilities that will render the leader to not just be effective but also be an effective driver of organisational direction. Companies try to introduce such traits within by hiring external candidates with proven records. While an external hire may be the right way when the company is looking for a turnaround or battling with weak or dysfunctional management, organisations with strong cultures or the ones who have assiduously built a leadership pipeline prefer to promote from within.
As the cost of wrong hire at the top can have disastrous consequences for the company, many firms go the extra mile to ensure the choice of a leader is as error free as possible. Irrespective of the approach, there are a few key characteristics that companies should look for in a candidate who is being evaluated for a leadership position. They are:
High emotional intelligence: Leaders with high emotional intelligence tend to galvanise their teams into action and calm them down according to the situations, guiding the firm to success under all situations. High emotional intelligence helps the good leaders to manage the emotions of the team to keep them engaged and motivated.
Credibility: The credible leader communicates with people and backs it with actions, reinforcing their faith and trust in the leader. A credible leader rarely pretends it gives him the freedom to speak his mind to the world and engage listeners and imbibe them with authority to lead others.
Quick learning ability: A leader needs to be a very quick learner – He has to learn from others, from events and from successes and failures. An agile mind and High Fluid Intelligence helps the leaders to learn fast on their jobs.
Draw ideas from others: Leaders need to be open to receive and accept ideas from others, without feeling threatened.
Intuitive sense of change: A good leader has a sixth sense about business that transcends market share and growth figures and provides them the ability to see the unseen. This ability to see the not- so-visible helps them to get the company ready to face the emerging challenges and be on top of their business. They show courage to take steps which seem impractical or outlandish, till the events prove them to be providential.
Ability to bounce back: No matter how good a leader is, there is no guarantee against failure. Every leader slips up, makes a mistake and takes a wrong call once in a while. The real good ones acknowledge their mistake, correct them and bounce back from the mistakes. The good leader shows tremendous resilience and ability to bounce back from temporary defeats.
Trends in assessing people for leadership positions
When the selection involves external candidates, companies have started using a battery of techniques to assess each of the above character istics. For instance, emotional intelligence and quick learning abilities are measured by psychometric tools like Thomas Emotional Intelligence Quotient (TEIQ) and General Intelligence Assessment (GIA). “Simulated office day” techniques involving business situations and unexpected events/mini crises supplemented by thorough background research of the candidates are used to evaluate them on other characteristics.
If the candidate is internal, the organisation normally has access to a lot of information on all the above factors and the decision can be based on it and their track record. Many companies use the above techniques to identify the potential leaders well ahead of time and groom them into leadership positions.