7 key traits that set emerging leaders apart
“When your company says you want your employees to be leaders, what that really means is that you want their emotional commitment to your vision. A leader’s emotional commitment is about taking on the company success as a personal crusade.” – Stan Slap.
When entrepreneurs start a company, they find a few crazy people to join them, people who see how their vision will change the world. That founding group of employees rallies together, applies strategic thinking, makes ridiculous sacrifices, fails, innovates, fails some more, and eventually figures it out. Why? Because the founding team members were in the foxhole with the entrepreneur. It was “them against the world.”
After they get through that phase, growth comes and more employees are needed, resulting in layers of leadership, and now you have employees being hired by people who don’t have that fuel and emotional connection to the original rebels. You lose your mavericks, and the soul of a startup disappears. The magic that was a magnetic force attracting rockstars who would follow the founder into battle is gone. Current leaders aren’t always effective leaders, yet you don’t have a strategy for identifying emerging leaders. Now it is about growth and hitting the numbers, productivity, and efficiency.
An infinitely better alternative is building and developing great leaders. The key is to replicate that entrepreneurial spirit, instilling it into the next generations of leaders who will rally their teams around the company’s cause, continually seeking opportunities for growth. This is much easier said than done, yet it is foundational to world-class customer service. If your employees in leadership roles are not infused with that energy, your other employees never will be.
Building a great internal culture and leading the employee experience revolution starts with developing great leaders, making your existing ones better, and creating a pipeline of emerging talent that can be the next generation of leaders in your company—leaders who will guide and inspire their teams to provide a best-in-class customer experience.
Identifying emerging leaders requires a strategy
Emerging leaders are team members who perform their jobs well and demonstrate potential for growth and leadership beyond their current roles, primarily by demonstrating emotional intelligence in addition to strong critical thinking skills. They are willing to take on challenges and are very proactive in seeking solutions. They also demonstrate their leadership potential with a natural ability to inspire their colleagues.
What are some characteristics to look for in your high performers? Try a systematic approach to filling your company’s higher-level roles. Be on the lookout for these 7 qualities:
1) Overall job performance. This one is obvious, but often given too much weight in identifying a future leader. Future leaders can stand out due to consistency and results. Yet this is not the only measure to use.
2) Showing leadership tendencies. Even while being a member of the team, leaders of the future may show leadership capabilities, such as supporting fellow team members, taking the lead on projects, and displaying superior problem-solving.
3) Innovation. Future leaders do not subscribe to the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and are not afraid to propose new solutions. They are seldom satisfied with the status quo. Thanks to their focus on problem-solving, they often find new and more efficient ways to do things.
4) Adaptability. Adapting to change is critical in today’s business landscape. Up-and-coming leaders are the ones who embrace change and focus on improving their skill sets, looking for new opportunities to learn and grow.
5) Communication. Effective communication is key to strong leadership. Your future leaders will demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly, and maybe most importantly, the ability to listen actively and take direction.
6) Collaboration. Leaders understand the value of teamwork and collaboration. Your future leaders will be those individuals who contribute positively to group dynamics and support their colleagues, offering them a safe space to communicate and share new ideas.
7) Ownership. Emerging leaders take ownership of their roles and responsibilities, going above and beyond what is expected. They are strong performers who proactively seek opportunities to make a difference and they don’t wait for directions. Recognizing those who show initiative and responsibility can lead to the discovery of potential leaders for future roles.
Once an emerging leader has been identified, what are the next steps to take for continued development opportunities? Find ways to get them active within the organization outside of their current role. One good way is to invite them to join a project steering committee where they can interact with leaders, oversee timelines, and communicate progress.
To learn more about developing leaders, click here.
John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or email@example.com.
Dave Murray is the senior customer experience consultant for The DiJulius Group and has helped dozens of companies create incredible systems that allow them to consistently deliver superior customer service. Dave’s experience has varied from leading call centers and frontline team members, to working closely with key partners and stakeholders. Visit thedijuliusgroup.com to learn more.
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