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Leadership Potential: What To Watch For In Candidates

Kirstie Kelly

HRZone recently published an article that argued: "Ignore the benefits of leadership succession planning at your peril." It is vital to prepare the next generation of leaders for your business, before they need to lead. For that reason, every recruiter hopes that their candidates have leadership potential. The problem is that it’s a hard quality to accurately spot. There are a few indicators, however, that certainly suggest a candidate is headed in the right direction.

A strong indicator of leadership potential is outside interests. In order to be an effective problem solver, a candidate needs varied resources to draw upon. An article in the Harvard Business Review, for example, demonstrates the multiple benefits of wide reading. "Leaders who can sample insights in other fields…and apply them to their organizations are more likely to innovate and prosper." It argues that reading also improves verbal capabilities and makes for better communicators: essential skills for an effective leader.

Look at a candidate's history and ask for an example when they have had to perform a task outside of their comfort zone. Find out how they approached the situation and how they handled the pressure. Gina Sclafani has written about the pain and difficulty of "exploring the uncomfortable", and describes in detail the process she had to go through to "increase synaptic flexibility". The right candidate will acknowledge the difficulties they faced but also explain how they benefited from overcoming them.

During the recruitment process, you need to look for applicants who can see the bigger picture, not just the role they want in the short term. Future leaders will be willing to learn and develop new skills and will be able to take on challenges outside of their normal areas of expertise. Improve your odds of hiring right by asking candidates for examples that prove they can learn, evolve, and work with the future in mind.

What do you look for in future leaders?

Kirstie Kelly

Kirstie is our resident expert in the field of recruitment and technology, having 23 years total experience in commercial business across a range of business sectors. As a result, she has been instrumental in ensuring the innovative technology provided at LaunchPad is relevant for our customers. Kirstie's passion is all about finding creative solutions to recruitment challenges. And no better way than with technology!