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5 Questions for Identifying Your Next Generation Leaders

By June 16, 2020 No Comments

One thing that crisis reveals is the current strength, or lack thereof, of the leadership in your organization. A crisis is also a fantastic time to train and develop your next generation of leaders if you have a leadership development mindset. One challenge many organizations face in not knowing who their candidates for next-generation leadership are. Will we hire from the outside or develop from the inside? If from the inside, who is the best candidate? Should it be the person with the greatest results? Perhaps, but there are many examples of high performers, once promoted to leadership, failed miserably by trying to become super-high performers and not leaders.

Outside Hire or Inside Investment?

While hiring someone from the outside to fill a leadership position in your organization is expedient, it can have some adverse effects as well if you are not careful in your selection process. Anytime you bring a leader from the outside, you put your culture at risk. Your selection process needs to make culture fit a top priority.

Developing leaders from within your organization takes more time and energy, but the long-term benefits are many. First, you create a culture of leadership where people on your team expect to learn leadership. Second, retention levels improve because people can see a path forward where they can learn and grow with the organization. Third, your culture is protected by developing people already contributing to your current culture.

Finding Your Eagles 

Here are five questions to consider when trying to identify where to invest your leadership development time and energy:

  1. Do you know what you want in a leader? What are the characteristics you want and need in a leader for your organization? Can you describe the ultimate candidate? Have you considered the diversity of your leadership candidate pool?
  2. How do you find your eagles? Who would be the right candidate for leadership development? John Maxwell teaches that we should observe those on our team and look for people who make things happen, see’s and seizes opportunity, influences others, adds value to you and others, possess a great attitude, and other characteristics meaningful to great leaders.
  3. Are they willing? Not everyone will be willing to do the work to lead and influence others. Does their attitude reveal a willingness to learn, improve, serve, add value, do the right thing, and make sacrifices for the team?
  4. Are they able? While leadership ability leans heavily on the EQ ability of a person, IQ is the ticket for admission. Are they competent in the areas where you see them leading? Do they possess, or can they be trained in the business acumen required for the role?
  5. Have they produced results? This question was probably answered positively as an early requirement to get them on your list, but there are other things to look for here. How do they respond to uncertainty and change? Are they change agents, always looking for ways to improve and grow? Great leaders are seldom satisfied and exhibit an urgency in getting things done.

The first step in establishing a culture of leadership in your organization is identifying the candidates where you could be investing your time and energy and resources to develop their leadership ability. The long-term benefits of growing your leadership pipeline will be felt for generations to come.

As leaders looking to grow leaders, we oftentimes can benefit from investing in coaching for ourselves. The John Maxwell Company Corporate Solution Group offers customizable coaching for you and your team. Visit the Executive Coaching page on our website to learn more.

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.