How Do You Recognize Leadership Ability?


When looking to promote internal candidates for management positions, how do you recognize and determine leadership ability? For me, it is in the day to day movements of the candidate. How they navigate throughout their day and how they behave is the biggest factor.

First, I pay attention to their level of energy. How do they accept work assignments? Is it with gusto and an internal drive to succeed? Are they almost always willing to take on new and exciting (or not so exciting) projects? When given a new task, are they asking questions? Do they instinctively see the big picture and what needs to be accomplished from an operational level?

If experience has taught me anything, it’s that the best leaders are the ones who connect with the work they do. They have an understanding of how important the work is, and the difference it makes to their customers, their staff and to the organization overall.

This type of candidate creates purpose within their team. Second, I pay attention to their people and social skills. This tells me a lot about their level of emotional intelligence as well. Is their first instinct to involve people when they are given a new project to work on? Do they willingly seek counsel and advice from peers? Do they communicate with other departments and co-workers regularly? Do they want to bring people together because they are excited and believe in the project?

Are they transparent about what they are trying to accomplish? Are they inclusive? Are they able to keep a level head through times of stress and real challenge? How do they rebound? Do they blame others for their mistakes? All of these components go into evaluating whether or not someone is ready to lead others.

Hiring internally has its advantages. You can see the day to day style of the candidate and whether or not they exhibit these leadership qualities in real-life situations. I've hired many managers with excellent operational skills over the years, but some of those highly skilled people just couldn't lead, inspire and direct teams effectively.

Evaluating the day to day movements of a potential internal candidate will tell you more about their leadership style and capabilities than any resume will.

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