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How to recognise and nurture leadership potential

leadership potential

True leaders can be few and far between in even the most powerful of industries.

Nurturing the leadership potential of star employees now will reward your business immensely in the future.

Before you can do this, it’s important to know how to see their leadership potential in the first place.

You’ll then be able to start the process of encouraging their talent.

Here’s how to recognise and nurture the leadership potential of your employees.




Employees with leadership potential will…


Know how to communicate – and listen

Communication is a major part of many jobs, high-level or otherwise. Whether it’s convincing clients to hire your firm or e-mailing difficult customers, communication skills can go a long way. If you notice stellar communication in an employee, they’re one to watch. Even better if they know when to stop and just listen – a skill increasingly being lost in modern workplaces as everyone tries to have their say. Those who are listening properly will give thoughtful responses and encouragement. They won’t simply be waiting for their turn to speak.


Always engage

A good leader always gets involved when they need to, and cares about the outcome of their decisions. Too many workers are quick to opt out of decisions or avoid giving opinions unless they’re forced to. Bright employees who have plenty of quality insight to contribute in meetings are potential leaders.


Be able to multitask

Multitasking is a much-needed skill in today’s office environments. Employees who can effortlessly switch from task to task without becoming flustered or overwhelmed are likely to be able to run a team well. The life of a leader can be stressful, so it’s important you find out now who can handle having a lot on their plate.


Be respected by their peers

Leadership isn’t as simple as telling others what to do; a leader who isn’t respected by his or her staff will have major problems. The employees to promote are those that are well-liked by their colleagues, but who will have no problem delegating. They’ll also need to be able to intervene in tricky situations between staff members.


Be able to handle difficulty and failure

A strong leader needs to be able to keep calm in difficult situations. If you have a staff member who’s always level-headed and able to reassure others, you may have management material on your hands. Leaders also need to take failure into their stride. Next time something goes wrong at work, keep an eye on your team and note how they react. The ones that can bounce back from failure rather than wallowing are likely to make great leaders.


Be eager to learn

A good leader doesn’t become complacent in his or her job. They’re always eager to try new things, find new ways of getting tasks done, and learn about new developments and research in their field. Ideally, your employees will already be showing initiative, but you may also like to give them a little push. Offer optional training sessions or work-related outings and keep an eye on who’s the most interested in getting involved.


Perform well in an interview

Ideally, your search for leaders should begin at the interview stage. If your interviewees don’t display at least a few of the above traits, think twice about hiring them. Hiring for leadership positions later on will be a whole lot easier if you already have a great pool of staff to work from.


To nurture leadership potential in your employees…


Start small

If you don’t want to give your potential leaders too many responsibilities, start them off with more minor tasks. These might include things like managing interns or organising interviews. This way, they’ll get a feel for leadership positions and will be able to tell you if they’d like to continue on a path to real leadership. You’ll soon discover whether or not they’re a good fit.


Think about your own type of leadership

Employees will follow your example, so when you find those with potential, think about the message you’re sending them. You should be knowledgeable but still eager to learn, and you should make sure your employees feel appreciated. Lead by example, and your future leaders will make you proud when it comes to their time to be in charge.


Provide great training

Even your most promising employees will need training to fully realise their potential. This could be in the form of personal mentorship, online courses, or conferences. Invest in your employees’ training now to create strong leaders for the future of your company.



Promoting from within will boost morale in your workplace as well as give your employees something to strive towards. Choose your leaders wisely and give them the tools to strengthen their leadership skills, and your company will reap the rewards.

Cloe Matheson is a creative writer based in Dunedin, New Zealand. In her free time, you’ll likely find Cloe in her reading nook, and getting lost in a good book. To see more of Cloe’s work, visit her Tumblr page.

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