As you scan your organization for the next transformative team lead, use these search techniques.

How to spot great team leaders

Dr. Susan Cain Organizational and Performance Assessments, Team Development Leave a Comment

In recent years, businesses have streamlined their structures, replacing siloed departments with nimble, cross-disciplinary teams capable of supporting specific products or services, according to The Economist. With this shift, companies have begun devoting more time and energy to identifying and developing internal standouts with the ability to lead such specialized groups.

Spotting employees with leadership potential may seem like a nebulous task with ample room for error. Fortunately, most burgeoning leaders share common, identifiable behaviors and characteristics. As you scan your organization for the next transformative team lead, use these search techniques: 

Look for connection, charisma
Effective leaders truly engage with fellow employees and form deep connections that surpass average workplace relationships, Inc. reported. They seek to gain trust and inspire confidence in others. As a result, most burgeoning leaders possess innate gravitas and surround themselves with scores of supporters.

In 2014 researchers from Harvard Business Review asked a group of more than 330,000 U.S. executives to rank core leadership competencies. Unsurprisingly, the ability to inspire and motivate was the top-ranked competency.

To find inspiring workers with leadership potential, pay attention to common workplace gatherings such as meetings. Engaged employees with big ideas in mind will be locked in and listening, waiting to interject with valuable insight or heap praise on other with sound input. In short, leaders don't have their faces in computer screens or phones when participating in collaborative exercises.

Additionally, seek out employees that seem to have a lot fans around the office, The Huffington Post recommended. Such individuals normally gain these followers by producing good work and successfully navigating the internal social scene, which makes them perfect for leadership roles with expanded responsibilities.

Look for employees that are engaged during meetings and other important company gatherings.Look for employees that are engaged during meetings and other important company gatherings.

Spot constructive risk taking
Few professionals go through their careers failure free. In fact, many innovative leaders thrive on failure and take major risks in search of game-changing success, Harvard Business Review found. However, the risks these men and women take are well-planned and purposeful – they're fully developed ideas and the results of established process.

"You have to strive for a process of decision making that over a large number of decisions gives good outcomes. It's not 'Are we making good decisions?' but 'Do we have a process for making decisions that is statistically working?'," venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson told the publication.

With this in mind, seek out internal risk-takers who leverage preexisting processes to pitch new and risky ideas. Of course, this appetite for uncertainty should be balanced by a healthy respect for feedback-rich culture and performance data. You can't learn from failure without facing the facts.

Seek out strong communication
Team effectiveness and communication often go hand in hand. As a result, potential team leaders must possess superb communication skills, Fast Company reported. Again, meetings at the perfect place to find individuals with such skills. Watch out for employees that can concisely articulate their feelings and ideas in person and don't shy away from delivering constructive feedback or disapproval.

"Team effectiveness and communication often go hand in hand."

Though this may seem like a no-brainer, many leaders simply aren't strong communicators, according to Harvard Business Review. Last year, The Harris Poll collaborated with communications firm Interact to survey more than 1,000 U.S. professionals about executive communication skills. Approximately 91 percent of respondents said the leaders at their organizations were lacking in the department. More than 60 percent said their leaders failed to recognize employee achievements while another 57 percent believed they were unable to give clear directions.

Bottom line: The internal upstarts you seek must be able to effectively communicate and facilitate teamwide flexibility. 

Once you've chosen your new leaders and assigned them to their specialized teams, stimulate synergy by organizing team-building activities and training. The Corporate Learning Institute offer multiple solutions, including a self-administered team assessment. Interested? Contact us via email or call 1-800-203-6734.   

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Dr. Susan CainHow to spot great team leaders

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