According to John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole foods, the traits he sees as essential in leaders are integrity, courage, and compassion.
In an interview with Inc. Magazine, he stated that emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence. We also know that critical thinking, innovative ideas, decision making, and initiative are all skills people in leadership roles need in organizations.
Assessing employees for future potential is usually done during succession planning meetings with senior management. Employees being assessed are often employees who have been with the company a significant amount of time and have demonstrated skills through job performance and other tasks.
Paying Attention to Recruiting
Richard Fairbank, founder and CEO, Capital One, several years ago, said, "At most companies, people spend 2 percent of their time recruiting and 75 percent managing their recruiting mistakes."
If Fairbank's statistic is true, than spending more time focusing on who and what we need in our companies is critical. Employees being hired in entry-level positions are assessed at the time of interviewing for immediate skills needed for open positions. These skills are technical and specific to the discipline that the job requires. Performance is evaluated on an annual basis and is related to tasks accomplished.
Seeing Potential Early On
Organizations need leaders at all levels. What if a shift was made to look at potential for future leaders at entry-level positions? What if a company did not wait for the necessary and standard length of time a person must be in the company before assuming a leadership role? How would this impact your recruiting and hiring decisions?
At one Fortune 500 company I worked with, recruiting on college campuses was done annually for a fast-track management program. Eight to 10 colleges were visited with the goal of finding 24 potential candidates to interview with senior management. Out of 24 candidates, the desired outcome was to hire 10 individuals.
These 10 people had demonstrated some capacity for leadership in their high school and college experience, but had yet to hold leadership roles or tenure in companies. The program assumed they had future potential. Some years the company hired only five people and in others they would hire over 15 for the program. The organization did not know what the future positions might be; only that future leaders were needed.
Looking for Leaders
There are many opportunities for us to look at our organizations and assess the skills demonstrated with existing leaders. You can begin hiring for these skills at different levels within your organization. Starting with the hiring process, you are creating pools for future potential.
Not everyone will rise to the challenge and there might not always be an open position when a leader is ready, but it is well worth the risk for incorporating this as part of the culture in the hiring process.
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