How to predict Leadership Potential


According to Alan Kay, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” I believe that we can apply this to Leadership Development. The best way to predict Leadership Development is by creating the kind of Leaders we need for the future. However, we need to be clear on what the predictors are that we can use to either identify or develop leadership potential. Here are a few predictors we can use:

Strategic Agility – In a highly volatile and competitive business environment, leaders are required to balance both an internal and external view of their organizations and the markets they serve. Leaders and their organizations are compelled to both preserve the core legacy business models and continue to find new ways of adding value to their customers. In order to thrive in this dynamic environment, Leaders need Strategic Agility – the ability to strategize with speed. In a VUCA environment where the strategy can become quickly obsolete, Leaders need to be agile in adapting the strategy to changing environments to ensure organizational success.

Thinking Potential – Quality thinking is a requirement for Leadership that requires the ability to be clear, and cut through irrelevant facts to focus on the critical facts. Everyone working today is being asked to get more work done in shorter periods of time.  All of us are being challenged to work more effectively. Organizational Life is more complex and more demanding than ever before. Time is of short supply but the pressure to perform our jobs well remains the same. This is felt more deeply at Leadership levels, as they have to manage several challenges and IQ plays a crucial role in supporting leaders to manage complex challenges.

Emotional Intelligence – Jack Welch was clear about the requirement of Emotional Intelligence for Leaders when he said, “No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.” Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of the emotions in self and others, manage emotional expression, be aware of the impact of the emotions on others and manage relationships with others positively. The lack of emotional intelligence can be a derailer at leadership levels and organizations should be mindful of nurturing EQ skills early on in the development of a leader.

Partnerships – The ability to partner across borders and across all levels is a key predictor. A leader needs to be connecting and interacting with people inside and outside the organization to gain insights and feedback. While the senior leader can depend on others for insights, the best are those which are gained directly through collaboration with others. Partnerships across levels in an organization is key as it will help the leader to connect and gain insights from employees at all levels of the organization, while also giving employees access to the Leader. We need leaders who believe in what Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.

Well there are many others predictors one can list, those listed above are the most critical and foundational predictors which can help to identify Leaders. Remember the acronym STEP while looking for these predictors of leadership potential.


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