As a leader, you need to develop your next level of leaders. Here are two essential tests to help you identify who those leaders may be.
Peel back the layers of leadership and expose the most essential things that a great leader does. Pull back vision, team building, goal setting, execution, communication, and reach the elemental core of leadership. Great leaders do two actions constantly, honestly, and purposefully:
- Ask people to change
- Give people hope
As you are evaluating the high-potential employees on your team to determine if they have what it takes to lead, ask whether you have observed them doing these two vital things.
Ask people to change
As a leader, it’s your job to carry out organizational decisions and initiatives. You must also improve the performance of your team and increase productivity. For growth, you continually strive to get more out of your employees for the organization’s benefit, as well as for their benefit. Either facet of your job requires you to ask people to change.
Change their work
- What they’re doing (tasks, duties, responsibilities)
- How they’re doing it (processes, tools)
- Who they do it with (restructuring, off-shoring, reductions-in-force)
- When they do it and how often (improvement efforts, shifting priorities)
- Where they do it (systems, re-locations, cubicle moves)
- Why they do it (competitive advantage, revenue, initiatives, personal growth)
Change their performance
You ask people to change their performance and take on assignments that push them outside their comfort zone. You coach employees to address actions that may be holding back their career. You ask that they continue to stretch themselves to do what they do with greater mastery.
Give people hope
Hope is essential to find the will to undertake any effort. It provides the perseverance to see the change done. It fuels the drive to succeed. It gives the guts needed to take a risk or face fears.
Without it, what’s the point?
As a leader, when you express your genuine belief and confidence in an employee, you give the employee hope. With hope, the employee believes in himself, his future, and the organization. Anything is possible.
When you deal with tough issues honestly, optimistically, yet practically, you give the employee hope. With hope, the employee believes she can see it through, make the change, or take the risk.
Passing the tests
At the core of their interactions, do your high-potentials pass these tests? Are they willing to drive change and confront performance issues? Do they look for the best possible outcome of each challenge? Do they see the bright side, even if the bright side is simply learning what not to do next time? Do they encourage and support those around them? Do they pour energy into a room and the people in it? With them, are most things possible?
If so, you have sparks. Fan them until they become a beacon in the night. These are your leaders.