8 Qualities to Look for in a Leader

April 14, 2015

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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As leaders of organizations, developing other leaders is one of our highest priorities. Now while that sounds easy enough, the problem is we may not know exactly what to look for. Being a leader and knowing what to look for in others with leadership potential are two different things. This is because our strengths come naturally to us, so many leaders have not taken the time to train themselves on what to look for in a leader.

Take a look at your team members and use this checklist to determine who on your team should be promoted to leadership positions as they become available.


Do they have the character to do what is right when no one is looking? Leaders with character create organizations with strong values. And make no mistake – strong values tie directly to a company’s bottom line. If you don’t believe me, ask the investors who trusted their funds to Bernie Madoff. There is no substitute for character.


You can have a hard working person with strong character, and if you do, count yourself fortunate. Do all you can to treat that person well. Many organizational leaders make a mistake here, though. They promote this person to a leadership position without full consideration of other qualifications. That person begins to fail where they previously had stellar success.

This is because they may not have the ability to influence people and outcomes. They may be hard workers and great team players, but they may not be suited to lead. Leadership requires influence.  You want character PLUS influence.


In an organizational setting, a bad attitude is more contagious than the flu and highly detrimental. Left unchecked, this has a major effect on the productivity of an organization. As the organizational leader, always be looking for leaders with winning attitudes. Winning attitudes are also highly contagious. And they are a major asset to an organization.


Does someone on your team seem to have a natural ability to make connections? Do they know who to call for what? Do they establish relationships quickly? Note this person as a leadership candidate. In the fields of relationship marketing and productivity, a leader who can connect is gold.


As you look at your team, is there someone who is accomplishing a great deal with seemingly little effort? Do they take challenges in stride? Do you have to remind them to leave for lunch because they are so engrossed in their work? Chances are, that person is working in their strengths. Capitalize on that by allowing them to lead in roles that call for those particular strengths. Companies often look for leaders and assume (sometimes incorrectly) that because they are good at one thing, their leadership skills can easily translate to another area. This is not always the case. Be very aware of strengths zones.


Strong leadership candidates have a track record of success. Look for patterns of successful behavior. Notice results from past assignments and past positions, even with other companies. If there is a pattern of success in smaller assignments, chances are that will continue as they progress into higher levels of leadership.


Look for employees who show up on time, work hard, stay focused, and get the job done. Look for employees who are consistent in their accomplishments. These are the marks of self-discipline, and they are hard to find in today’s society. When you find someone with self-discipline, note them as a leadership candidate.

Growth Beyond Comfort

One great test for leadership is to give each person on your team a challenging assignment – one that is within their strengths zone but outside their comfort zone. Watch to see who stretches, who takes it upon themselves to learn what is required to get it done, and who finds a way to get it done despite the obstacles. They are a strong leadership candidate.

No one is perfect, and hiring mistakes happen; but if you use these eight points as a checklist, your chances of identifying strong leaders for your organization are exponentially high.