7 questions that will help you find and unlock leadership potential within your business


Corporate Australia is undergoing radical change and digital transformation at a tremendous pace.

Telstra, NAB, ANZ and many others are trying to restructure their businesses, simplify and segment their product offerings and improve their end-to-end customer experience.

Companies are having to identify the people they need on their teams today and into the future, and the potential leaders who will take them there.

In fact, this is a challenge faced all across Australia, not just in business, even those at the top struggle, as demonstrated by the merry-go-round of Prime Ministers we’ve had leading our country in recent years.

1. Focus on high potential, not performance

Employee performance has been determined by historical ability and expertise. What you also need to look for is the employee’s aptitude, desire to grow and overall potential.

The most compelling attribute is potential, which is forward looking, in contrast to the historical perspective of performance.

Some individuals are simply not cut out to be leaders, although their performance is at the higher end of the scale.

They don’t have the capacity to play leadership roles and are content to be followers. Technology from Gooroo can help identify an individual’s potential and therefore their ability to contribute to the future success of your organisation.

2. Do they make things happen?

There are people in organisations who just make things happen. Those who make decisions necessary to take projects to their logical conclusion while others prefer to sit back, watch and wait for things to happen.

The former has leader written all over them. They facilitate project completion in the leadership role most appropriate to what is required by becoming an integral part of the decision-making process.

3. Are they accountable?

Employees who hold themselves answerable for failure can be identified as leaders. If you see individuals shying away from taking responsibility for their actions or assigning blame to others because it might reflect poorly on them, then they aren’t leader material.

Leaders aren’t afraid to step up and hold themselves accountable for failure.

4. Can they multitask?

If you think you’ve identified potential leaders among the broader workforce, give them some extra responsibilities.

Throw them in at the deep end and keep tabs on how and under what turbulent circumstances they swim. Can they handle the extra tasks you’ve assigned?

Do they finding it difficult to multitask or are they still swimming with ease and asking for more?

The answer to this question is important because all leaders have to perform more than one task at a time and perform them it to the best of their abilities and appreciably better than most.

5. Do they show empathy, resilience and emotional intelligence?

Soft skills will be very important for future leaders to have. The ability to communicate effectively, work in a team, collaborate and thinking creatively to solve problems will be integral to success.

Undoubtedly, setbacks and disappointment will occur throughout an increasingly disruptive future of leaders. How quickly can they pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get on with leading?

Technology is able to identify key elements such as decision-making preferences, responses to certain situations, workplace perceptions and life motivations, which can help employers identify their future leaders.

6. Are they excellent communicators?

All leaders have extraordinary communication skills. If they want to get a particular point across, they are able to do it effortlessly.

Look for a person who has the ability to explain ideas in a clear and concise manner; somebody who deals with specifics and who has the ability to listen.

If you are able to identify an employee who has these qualities and more, you need to start preparing this person for a leadership role in your organisation.

7. Can they manage the unknown?

Managing and leading through the unknown is a capability that every leader must embody in today’s turbulent and tomorrow’s ever-changing environment.

Look for the person who volunteers to step up even in the face of risk and uncertainty and who others follow trusting that his or her leadership will compel them to succeed.

Performance reviews and appraisals may have taken a hit, but development planning and execution is still required as a core business capability for leaders of tomorrow.

If you are able to identify an employee who has these qualities and more, you should consider giving them an opportunity to swim in the deep end and invest in their role with the future of your organisation.

Dr Wesley Payne McClendon is Chief Strategy & Transformation Executive at Gooroo Ventures. With over 20 years’ experience inspiring and working with organisations, business leaders and corporate teams in more than 50 countries, Dr McClendon is a global authority on strategic alignment, transformation and leadership, people and culture due diligence.

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