Identifying Leaders

July 13, 2018

You’ll have to delegate responsibility at some point, which means that you’ll likely need to place employees into management positions, which also means that you’ll need to know how to identify the right people to lead. There are a myriad of personality breakdowns out there that you can look at, from the simple binary of Type-A and Type-B to the complex 16 Personality Factors theory. Indeed, you can spend endless amounts of time and money investing into personality tests to help uncover those answers.

While there are empirically good reasons to use these tests, your gut might be the best tool of all. These tests might identify a strong-willed, aggressive candidate suited to leadership, but no test will measure whether someone really buys into your business (the mission, the organization, the products and services, etc.). Someone who doesn’t buy in won’t be loyal.

But strong-willed, aggressive types aren’t all the same: consider that some managers make everyone around them better, while others are only great at everyone else’s expense, especially the ones who are quick to claim credit for success and even quicker to deflect blame for failure. (The importance of taking ownership over the challenges a business faces is something we covered in a previous article.) Personality tests alone won’t reveal that.

Getting to know a person before putting him in charge of others is a valuable luxury. While promoting from within isn’t always possible, it’s certainly preferable for that reason: after all, “If you want to lead, learn how to follow.” A general begins his career as all the way at the bottom, as a private. Leadership, much like respect, is earned. The best leaders never give an order to a subordinate that he wouldn’t be willing to do himself; simply put, the best way for a manager to learn about the employee experience is to have spent time as one himself. Armed with this knowledge, a manager will know what is and isn’t reasonable to expect.

This post isn’t meant to argue personality tests aren’t useful, or that you can’t find quality leadership candidates from other sources besides your own. But consider carefully why you’re eschewing your own employees in favor of someone new, and also why this candidate is on the market to begin with—if he didn’t buy in at the last job, what changes by coming to yours? Vetting is critical to making sure you have a staff that will work in harmony, one that is able to withstand the pressure of sales goals and deadlines, as well as one filled with employees who trust and respect one another.

Developing employees into leaders—or identifying ones from other places—is a specialty of ours at The Brandt Group. We can help you track the consistency of your employees’ customer service with Mystery Shopping (a great way to identify those who buy in), as well as train someone to become the kind of leader you want in your company. Reach out to us today, and let’s get started!

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