4 Ways to Identify Your Next Great Leaders (or Become One of Them!)
Only a few great leaders are born that way. The rest push their way from the front line to management and beyond to become successful – or better yet, revered.
So how do you know who will be your next great leaders? Look for strength in the qualities the greatest leaders possess and magnify.
Researchers at McKinsey identified four areas where great leaders excel: support, decision-making, resourcefulness and responsibility. These account for almost 90% of leadership effectiveness, the researchers found.
While great leaders are good at a lot of things — leading diverse teams, problem-solving, goal-setting and achieving, etc. — this is where they excel.
Look for these qualities when hiring or promoting for leadership roles – or hone yours to move up in your career.
Great leaders are supportive
The best leaders guide employees and collaborate effectively with colleagues. They also pay attention to how other people feel and try to understand and act on those emotions.
A sincere interest in people gains them a high level of trust from colleagues and employees.
To be more supportive:
- Be consistent. Show fairness and thoughtfulness in how you deal with people, situations and crises.
- Be reliable. Do what you say you will.
- Be accountable. Stay involved in what you delegate. Admit misjudgments and fix them. Share credit for success.
Great leaders are decisive
Great leaders can be decisive — and usually make the best decisions — because they’re constantly preparing. They learn as much as they can about the operations, projects and people that surround them now and in the future. That way, even a so-called emergency seems less critical because they’re versed and ready to make a decision.
To be more decisive:
- Be prepared. You don’t have to know everything about all the work your people are involved in. But you need to know where to go for all the information you’ll need to make a good decision.
- Have mentors. Even seasoned leaders turn to mentors for sage advice. Build and maintain a group of trusted mentors who can help in a variety of situations.
“You’re never going to find the perfect time or the perfect circumstances or be totally prepared. At some point you have to kick into action,” says Michael Hyatt in his research and blog on what holds back great leaders.
Great leaders are resourceful
Great leaders don’t complain. They don’t whine about a lack of resources. They don’t make excuses.
They take Teddy Roosevelt’s advice: “Do what you can with what you have where you are” — because there will never be enough resources.
To be more resourceful:
- Bend rules. We don’t advocate breaking rules, but if the only way you can make progress is to find flexibility, go for it.
- Kill Plan A. You’ll only be forced to devise and use Plan B if you destroy all parts of Plan A.
- Adapt. Turn challenges into advantages. Example: When Boston Beer Co. Founder Jim Koch couldn’t find office space, he sprawled his work out on bar tops where his customers were — and learned even more about them and his work.
Use “the one thing you possess that is potentially unlimited: your imagination. Ultimately, there is no such thing as insufficient resources; there are only unresourceful people,” says Hyatt.
Great leaders are responsible
Great leaders don’t point fingers.
They take responsibility for outcomes, accepting defeat when something falls short and sharing credit when things go well.
“You may not control the circumstances you’re in, but you do control your response. Changing the result is as simple (or as hard) as changing your response,” says Hyatt.
To take more responsibility:
- Pass the credit. Celebrate successes. Explain how individual contributions helped reach the goal – and thank the people.
- Take the blame. Apologize — but not too much. Admit mistakes and explain how they’ll be rectified. Apologizing unnecessarily — say for a success that might not rest well with everyone — can kill credibility.