As the war for talent becomes more competitive, with this year's crop of new graduates entering the workforce, recruiters are faced with an exciting new challenge -- how establish the future of their companies.
Certainly, it’s scary to imagine a future without strong leaders. In fact, that is a major concern for many companies. The 2015 Business Human Capital Challenges report from the Society of Human Resource Management found that one of the top concerns among HR and business leaders was developing the next generation of leaders.
This wouldn’t be a problem were leadership qualities bountiful and simple to find, but reality paints a different picture. The Workplace Trends’ Global Workforce Leadership survey in February and March revealed that respondents regarded leadership as the hardest skill to find in employees.
Hiring managers and recruiters, then, need to know how to spot leadership qualities in candidates and new hires. Here is what they should look for and how to turn top talent into future leaders:
Candidates who possess a passion for learning and are engaged in their work will likely demonstrate a motivation to grow and succeed. Unfortunately, finding such engaged people is still relatively rare -- Gallup reported that only 31 percent of employees surveyed were engaged at work, as of May 2016.
So screen for this by asking the right interview questions to gauge candidates' passion. Find out what their goals are and what motivates them.
These questions should encourage each candidate to share his or her values. For example, when companies ask about what a job seeker looks for in a company, they’re really looking for what that person values and how those values stack up against the company’s list of core values.
Inquire about what these people's ideal role looks like, to measure how their passion and personality aligns with the company’s culture and the nature of the role they’re applying for. Take notes when the interviewee shows extra enthusiasm as he or she speaks. This may entail leaning forward, smiling more and using more gestures when describing a past project successfully executed. Such actions also show their passion for problem-solving or perhaps a specific area of interest, like project management.
Communication is a top skill for all kinds of jobs, but especially for future leaders. Leaders need to know how to express themselves clearly, listen carefully and present information in a variety of ways for different audiences.
While interviewing, consider a number of tactics you can use to test a candidate’s ability. For example, ask an ambiguous, vague question to see how this person interprets it and watch as he or she breaks the question down into specific, logical points.
It’s also good to note when candidates reframe questions or pause a moment, because that shows they're actively thinking about the question and how they want to answer, in an authentic, articulate way. Press them with questions they'll be forced to admit they know nothing about, like a topic outside their skill set and experience. See how they react.
Good leaders know when they're the expert and should take the helm, but they also know when to work with others who have more strength in an area they're weak in.
In a 2015 study from the Journal of Research in Personality, researchers found that people who posses a “grittier” personality, in terms of positive emotions about a task and expectations of success, tend to remain persistent in their work on individual tasks, despite the risk of failing to complete a larger task with a bigger impact.
In other words, effective leaders aren’t control freaks who need to do everything on their own, and they don’t stubbornly pursue things that sacrifice the big picture. Instead, they ask for help and are open to teamwork. They are humble.
Humility is vital because it resides in the sweet spot between arrogance and self-doubt. Look for that perfect balance of confidence, where someone is assertive and aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses and also accepts mistakes as learning opportunities.
Look for confidence and humility to see if this person is capable of collaboration. This can be found in positive body language, like good posture, consistent eye contact and an authentic smile.
Such authenticity is important. When candidates express their gratitude, look for sincerity. Genuine gratitude shows they are honest and trustworthy and possess a humble character.
Help them grow.
Additionally companies that strive to hire people with leadership qualities -- or nurture top talent in their current staff -- are tasked with helping these future leaders grow. Mentoring is a great strategy for this.
Assign mentors within the company. In the 2016 Delloitte Millennial Survey, 94 percent of 7,700 employee-respondents said their mentors' advice was good and 91 percent said their mentor showed a good level of interest in their development. When young talent starts to engage with senior level leaders and well-rounded employees, they pick up on good habits, learn new skills and develop a trust and respect with their colleagues.
The message here is to teach employees to create professional relationships and confidently initiate conversations to expand their network. This builds crucial leadership skills like communication and makes them strong representatives for their company.
To emphasize finding and cultivating the next generation of effective leaders, companies must turn to their recruiting process. By working with their recruiters, leaders can ensure that they are reaching their highest quality of hire and bringing on the best people to take the reins one day.