How to spot future business leaders in your company

How to spot future business leaders in your company

One of the most important skills a business owner must have is spotting people who can groomed to hold leadership positions in their businesses.

I have observed that many businesses talk about steps (such as employee engagement and development) that they have taken in this direction. However in practice, most of them don’t have a real strategy to identify talented employees and create future leaders.

Over past several years, I have been discussing this topic with business owners who have successfully created next line of leaders in their companies. One question that I have consistently asked them is what traits they look out for while identifying people that can take leadership positions in future.

My today’s article is compilation of top 7 traits (in no specific order) that these business owners have mentioned.

Trait 1: Ability to handle complexity

This ability becomes more important as a person assumes more senior responsibilities. Potential leaders must demonstrate the aptitude to deal with complexity, multiple priorities and grey decision choices.

Trait 2: Learnability

Appetite & capacity for learning new skills is consistent with all successful business leaders. And, that’s not surprising because this quality is critical to thrive in today’s ever changing business environment. A future leader must have the ability to learn quickly and more importantly the thirst new knowledge.

Trait 3: Part of the solution

The successful leaders are always a part of solution and not a part of problem. In other words, instead of complaining about the problem they relentlessly and resourcefully search for a solution even if problem seems difficult or a workable solution is not immediately apparent. This quality should be clearly displayed by a potential leader.

Trait 4: Ability to successfully get work done from others

It is not enough to be good at one’s work. A leader needs to get work done from others. A future leader must understand this and consciously empower other people to deliver. (Side note – Read my post related to this topic: Don’t just delegate. Empower your employees!)

Trait 5: Receptive Nature

Many employees are vocal about their achievement however when you give them constructive criticism they sulk (most sulk internally). On the contrary, the future leader has the ability to take constructive criticism positively and incorporate it.

Trait 6: Strong Values

Successful business leaders never show results at the expenses of the values of the organization. A future leader should display strong awareness about striking balance between organization values and his ambitions.

Trait 7: No ‘I’ syndrome

Future leaders understand that any business success needs a team effort. As a result, they always go for ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. Sharing success with others and giving credit where due are their common virtues.

So, what traits do you look for to spot talent in your company?

Do you look out for any additional traits or qualities that were not mentioned in this article?

Please comment below to let me know your thoughts.


  • This article too is well articulated like the earlier ones.

    I just have a point from my 20+ years in the corporate world – talent spotting, grooming future leaders or building the leadership pipeline are all similar in ethos & intent. Some organizations are very serious in both thought & action whilst most others fall short in either their thought or their action towards this intent.

    The challenge always is “consistency” – talent spotting & grooming cannot ever be a one time or sporadic activity but has to be a part of the inherent culture and HR strategy of an organization. Should you do a deep dive and ponder over this statement several answers will emerge.

    Deepak Prahlad AgarwalOctober 23, 2013
  • Dear Deepakji, good article. But in real life it is difficult to find someone with all these qualities and who not a business leader already. I guess, one must take notice even if they spot a few of these qualities in an employee and then groom such employees. Would like to hear you view on employee grooming in your subsequent articles.

    Aakash KulkarniOctober 25, 2013
  • Very good article.
    I would like to add few more traits.
    1.Risk taking ability
    2.Defining strategy & vision for the organisation
    3.promoys creativity & innovation

    Dilip ChuriOctober 27, 2013
  • I liked the article as well as the comment of shri Aakash kulkarni . Looking forward to more of such educative articles

    Ar.vishwas ParanjapeDecember 24, 2013

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