Selecting Future Leaders, March 2013
A Note from The Consulting Team —
Many organizations now face a leadership double whammy. The first hit we all expected: Baby Boomer boss retirement. The second, an unforeseen consequence of the economic downturn, was retirement plan reductions. This circumstance has forced many leaders and managers into use-it-now or lose-a-lot positions. Organizations are replacing leadership personnel at a quick pace.
The silver lining is that there are many opportunities for advancement for those who aspire to be promoted. The challenge in hiring managers is to replaceexperienced retirees with the talent needed to surmount future demands, and possibly to become tomorrow’s favorite boss.
This issue of Leadership Tips provides guidance for the vital task of selecting your organization’s future leaders.
Our warm regards,
Marilyn Manning, Ph.D.
Selecting Future Leaders
This month Glassdoor.com released this year’s ratings of CEOs. According to Forbes Magazine, “The list is based on reviews voluntarily posted by employees from all over the world who answer the following question, ‘Do you approve of the way this person is handling the job of leading this company?’ The results are calculated similar to presidential approval ratings, and the 50 toprated chief executives are honored as The World’s Favorite Bosses.” Listed leaders are active CEOs who received 100+ reviews February 2012-2013 and 40+ reviews February 2011-2012.
While the winners on this list will change from year-to-year, the reasons employees selected them will endure as a significant guide for successful leadership. Common traits that won respondents’ praise were clear compelling company visions, strong communication skills, motivating styles, and being seen as approachable and personable. The Consulting Team adds growth mindset to this list as a leadership trait necessary for all candidates. With such a mindset, leaders believe in their own and others’ ability to learn, grow, and adapt to future demands and challenges, a necessary foundation for managing in a rapidly changing world.
“Our strategic plan has succession planning interwoven into it. We look for ways to teach and mentor candidates to fill new roles or vacancies.”
~ James Leal, Chief of Police, Newark PD
Many of our clients are now seeking replacements for
leaders who are retiring. There are several avenues of
recruiting people for management and leadership roles:
internal lateral transfers, promoting from within, and
hiring outside talent. It is important in any selection to
consider the necessary traits and how you can ascertain if
your candidates possess them.
Clear and Compelling Vision. In order to lead,
be it a major corporation or work team, leaders are
effective when they have a positive picture of their teams’
future results. The more they communicate the
importance of their mission to the members and help
them work together toward their goals, the more
motivated the team will be and the greater chance of
When assessing leadership candidates, listen for their attitudes.
Are they optimistic? Do they focus on what can be improved, or are
they comfortable with the status quo? When they present new ideas,
do you sense passion in their aspirations, and do their words persuade
you to pay attention? Can they sell the benefits they offer to you?
“Coaching improved my skills, my confidence in my
strengths and value, and my focus on my goals. I applied
these skills to advance in my career. I have worked with The
Consulting Team for over 15 years and highly recommend
~ Sharon Russell, Administrative Officer, City of San Jose
Strong Communication Skills. Vision and direction
must be well communicated if it is to be enacted. Pay
attention, when interviewing candidates, to their clarity of
expression, positive energy behind their words, and their
information’s credibility. When considering internal
candidates, check if they have given effective
presentations and have participated capably in meetings.
Communication skills include not only being a persuasive
and trustworthy speaker, but an effective listener too.
Do they listen patiently and respond aptly to what you
share in the interview? Do they have a reputation for
adding to team discussions? Have you reviewed their
written reports and emails for clear messages and a
Motivating Style. Inspiring speeches help to motivate
teams. However, there are other ways that managers can
be motivating. They can be mentors, concerned about the
success of each staff member as well as overall results.
They can be good at recognizing positive efforts and
rewarding people for their contributions.
The bottom line is how well team members perform
when they work with or for the leadership candidate.
Notice how co-workers or subordinates say it feels to
work with the candidate. Are candidates welcome on
project teams they join? What outside activities are they
involved with? Community-oriented clubs and leadership
activities can portray a team-oriented, motivating person.
Approachable and personable. These traits can be a
result of the candidate’s outgoing personality. However,
quiet people can be approachable as well. People
approach others who display open and accepting
demeanors, not those who act judgmental or superior. A
sense of humor can be a good indicator of this trait, if it is
free of sarcasm or put-downs. A ready smile and interest
in others are other gauges of good candidates. They will
ask about you, rather than talking only of their talents and
While interviewing candidates, note how much the
person smiles or wears a pleasant expression. Are they
quick to judge the job or the company or others you both
may know? Check out their sense of humor, and check in
on your feelings about the candidate’s reaction to you.
Growth Mindset. In Mindset: The New Psychology
of Success, Carol Dweck emphasies the importance of
leaders staying ahead of the game by growing their
knowledge and skills in their field and leadership. They
must believe in the ability of others to grow as well. This
means they advance their teams by hiring the best people,
rather than undermining others to look or feel powerful.
They correct their mistakes and deficiencies, rather than
blaming others. They identify future skills they and their
teams will need and offer training. They are confident
that they and their teams can continue to grow and
Test your candidates’ mindset by asking what they
have learned from their failures? Question them about
courses they have taken to increase their personal value.
Consider the challenge and potential in their volunteer
The Consulting Team offers services to select the best
leaders through consulting support, interviews, and
assessments. We hope these tips about key leadership
traits and how to determine who may possess them will
help you recruit a dynamic leadership team for your