“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Identifying potential leadership talent within your organization is a great strategy for creating capacity for growth in the future. By intentionally growing leaders from within, you raise up leaders who you’ve had time to observe and mentor so you know they align with your culture and values.
In order to raise leaders from within effectively, you need a system that will help identify potential leaders during your interview and hiring process. The two leadership traits that I’ve observed in most good leaders are: Leaders are learners and leaders like to help others succeed.
When I’m trying to identify future leaders, I simply look to see if there is any evidence of these two traits. Admittedly, there is a lot more to qualifying leadership potential but I’ve found this to be a good place to start.
The Apostle Paul saw something in young Timothy early on. He referred to him as his “child in the faith”. There is one passage that jumps out at me from Paul’s second and final letter to Timothy. This is near the end of Paul’s life and he is ready to pass the torch of leadership to the next generation of leaders. In his instruction to Timothy, he writes these words:
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. (2 Timothy 3:14 NLT)
Paul mentored Timothy. Others also mentored Timothy. These were men and women of character who Timothy could trust to impart to him all that he needed to establish himself as a quality leader. He had carefully observed the real life examples of other leaders. Timothy was a learner.
They took him with them on their missionary journeys and let him observe as they navigated difficult circumstances. In the way Paul writes this letter, you can tell he had great confidence in Timothy’s abilities as a leader. That confidence came from knowing that he had been well mentored and taught. Timothy in turn helped others.
How are you developing young leaders in your organization? Find ways to include them in your daily activities. Let them observe the difficulties and well as the successes in your organization. Remember: “leaders are learners” and if you have identified the right potential leader, they will engage in the learning process with enthusiasm. One risk you take by investing in the development of potential leaders in your organization is that you might spend a lot of time and effort, only to have them leave.
I like what John Maxwell says about this: “The only thing worse than investing time and money to develop your people, only to have them leave, is to not invest in them and have them stay!” Let me challenge you today to identify and invest in a future leader.