By James Manktelow and the Mind Tools Team
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Building Tomorrow's Leaders

Identifying and Developing Leaders

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How to recognize leadership potential.

Organizations need leaders – and not just in top executive positions. Leaders are people who have the vision to see what needs to be done, and to motivate and energize people to perform excellently.

With strong leadership skills in place at all levels of your organization, you'll find it much easier to build a strong, respected and prosperous business.

However, spotting people with leadership potential is not always easy. To ensure your business's continuing performance, you need to identify these people and nurture their leadership potential – it's a potential that's far too valuable to waste.

So, how do certain people show they have what it takes to lead others?

The Right Kind of Potential

It's common to label high achievers as potential leaders. Unfortunately, it's not that simple: If people perform well, that only shows that they're well suited to their jobs.

Let's look at two examples:

  • Carla, the R&D expert, whose research led to discovering a new gene, is certainly a great scientist. Her co-workers admire the work she does, and it's very likely she'll be promoted because of her technical skills. But she doesn't share her knowledge, and she doesn't help others understand her methods.
  • Sue in marketing is a good employee whose work is above average but not necessarily extraordinary. However, what does stand out is that she has forged great relationships with people from all parts of the company. Because of this, whenever changes occur, managers count on her to see the benefits and motivate her colleagues to accept them.

Who is the real leader?

Chances are that Sue is a more promising leader than Carla. You won't know this, though, until you look deeply and observe her in action. What's clear from the start is that job performance, by itself, is not a reliable indicator.

To determine key leadership indicators it's important to recall some popular theories of leadership.

Leadership Theories

There are many theories of leadership:...

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