7 Leadership Traits You Should Be Hiring, Promoting For & Developing Today

A best in talent organization never sleeps. If they do, they get left behind and your future organizational leaders move on to new companies and different careers. Your business suffers, business goes unrealized and those future leaders didn’t know the big plans you had for them with you. In today’s tough talent market, candidates have options. Your employees have options, and most of those with options happen to be your most tenured, valued and talented employees.

Your company may have the best talent network in your industry, city or geographic region. You may even be experiencing unprecedented retention rates. But that’s today, and finding and holding onto quality people will mean very little without developing the kind of internal leadership traits that create greatness through inspiration and creativity. Things can change in an instant when it comes to the succession plan of your organization. After all, doing the same things in the same way may lead to consistency, but it rarely leads to overwhelmingly successful companies. How does an organization go about recruiting, developing and retaining his kind of leadership that drives the future success of your company?

How to Find Great Leaders?

In a traditional sense there are two primary methods for getting great leaders.

1) Engage, recruit and add leaders to your team and organization who already do what you do well

2) Develop, grow and foster that kind of leadership within your own organization

The most successful companies execute using balance of both. They understand the importance of not putting all their eggs in basket or strategy if you will. Bringing in leaders from outside can work well. It infuses new ideas, passion and creativity that are immediately felt, but consistently finding that caliber of talent can be tough and certainly expensive. By developing not just a formal leadership culture but also a leadership training mentality, you can learn to grow your own future leaders in both formal as well as informal settings.

Your homegrown leaders know the ins and outs of the organization. They understand the workplace culture, politics and have a proven track record of just getting things done. Their word speaks for itself plus the leadership training and development costs less in many cases. Your internal talent is developed, engaged and less likely to be disenchanted and bored. Cultivating the leadership skills that lie dormant throughout your workforce, you can build stronger, more productive workers, who will be ready to take on the new challenges of leadership roles when the time comes. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the type of leadership traits companies should be looking for in their internal talent. You don’t need doers, you need leaders who are committed, flexible and willing to see the world differently.

Seven Most Important Leadership Traits

Seeing the world different starts with you, a current member of the organizational leadership. You are someone who sees the bigger picture and is committed to building a team focused on retaining future leaders with a certain set of leadership traits. I like to think of these as the secret sauce to driving success at your company.  While I’m from the school of thought that believes that leaders are born as well as a made. These leadership traits can be found, developed or just are. 

  • Extroversion: According to a meta-analysis study spear headed by Timothy Judge, Ph.D., a professor of Business at the University of Notre Dame, extroversion is the best predictor of leadership effectiveness This may be due to the ease with which they assert themselves, the fact that others more naturally see them as leaders, or a combination of traits.
  • Conscientiousness:  Among research studies on leadership traits, the one common factor that nearly all successful leaders possess to some extent, is the personality trait of conscientiousness. Conscientious individuals are typically well organized and plan ahead. They face adversity head on and are good at overcoming their own impulses.
  • Communication: This one may seem like a no-brainer, but when assessing communication skills, it is important to remember that it is a two way street. A huge part of being an effective communicator is receiving and implementing feedback. Many who are great presenters are lousy communicators, because they fail to factor this in.
  • Creativity: In business, this can be a scary word. Experimentation is often seen as risky and does not always fit within established protocols. Hire and develop those who take calculated risk. It is important to build trust when extending the freedom to be creative in developing creative leadership traits.
  • Positivity: Having a positive outlook is one of the most helpful leadership traits. Not only is it attractive to others, but it is an essential trait for those who want to be open to all possibilities. Negativity tends to limit ideas and choices, while positivity opens your company up for innovation and the development of new ideas.
  • Intuition: The ability to feel out solutions without being led by cold hard data can be invaluable. A good leader is one who instinctively understands the structure and flow of his organization. While data is good, sometimes even with it, it takes an intuitive leader to choose the right direction.
  • Confidence: Confidence as a leadership trait is not always easy to ascertain. While it’s important to be confident enough to assert yourself, leaders should possess that quiet confidence that allows them to stay the course when others waver.

Most of these leadership traits are naturally occurring personality traits that may be developed long before they enter your talent pool. On the other hand, most of them can be learned and improved upon. By seeking to develop these traits, you can assure yourself of a solid pool of potential leaders to meet your company’s needs.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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