How to Identify a Future Leader

I think the best way to identify a potential leader is to ask people: “Who do you enjoy working with?  Who do you respect in the workforce?”  The names you hear in answer to those questions are the kind of people you want to identify as potential leaders and promote. I’ll never forget, in the seventh grade I was elected president of my class. I came home and told my Dad, who was a career navy officer. I said, “Dad, I won the election. I’m president of the class!” And my dad said, “Ken, that’s great!  Now that you have that position—never use it. Great leaders are great because their people trust and respect them, not because they have power.” So think about it: Who do people trust and respect in your workplace? Who do people go to for advice who might not be a leader now?  Those are the ones you want to identify. Those are the ones who have the potential to be leaders, because people are already attracted to them.

9 thoughts on “How to Identify a Future Leader

  1. Ken,

    Isn’t that lame advice from your father trying to be thoughtful or helpful? No disrespect intended but, “Don’t use it”, indeed.

    If you were elected 7th grade class president there are expectations based on promises made. “Don’t use it” sounds like a cop-out. In fact, being class president positions you to actually take a leadership role. Not using it, the role, is abdication more than it is leveraging it through others.

    It reminds me of President Obama’s dilemma which is page out of your father’s book of, when in a leadership position…”Don’t use it.” The sooner he starts to act like a LEADER, rather than hope others take a leadership roles, the sooner we’ll as see that not using your position of authority can do more harm than good if you actually have the smarts to make a difference.

  2. @DanG…Worth repeating. The subject here is “leadership” not “humility” as you seem to think. And regardless of what horse you rode in on–I’m entitled to my opinion–on horseback or not.

  3. Great leaders create great leaders. They are as concerned about the success of others as they are their own success. They do not “use” their power as an agenda for selfish gain, but because of the influence they have over others and because of their leadership style, they are the truly Great Leaders. Ken states ” Great leaders are great because their people trust and respect them, not because they have power.” He affirmed my favorite quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

  4. Valentio, I think you proved DanG point with your last coment. Until you learn humility, you will never understand leadership.

  5. Pingback: Hay Group Study on Best Companies for Leadership

  6. Dear Valentino, there is no conflict between humility and true leadership. True tLeadership is about service and it takes humility to truly serve. The sense of ‘don’t use the position’ is that your focus should be on getting people to trust and respect you without you having to use the force of your office but rather that of your person. Cheers

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