What to Look For In Candidates for Leadership Roles

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In organizations of all sizes and industries, leadership is essential. Effective leaders know what to do to guide their teams and lead businesses to success. 

That’s why for your company to attain lasting success, you’ve got to hire great leaders.

It’s not easy to identify genuine leaders, which is why hiring managers can place incompetent people into positions that require strong leadership personalities. 

So, what should you focus on when seeking a candidate to take up a leadership role?

Let’s dive in.

1. A Problem-Solving Mindset

When running an organization, problems are inevitable. It could be an internal conflict among employees, a problem with the supplier, a complaint from a section of customers, or even an issue with the local authorities.

The firm’s management has the key to address any of these problems, which is why you may want to hire someone with a problem-solving mentality.

Recruiters may uncover this crucial leadership skill by going through the applicant’s resume and asking questions to know how the candidate can solve specific problems. You want to establish that a candidate has the following significant problem-solving skills:

Communication during a Problem

You may want to know how the person can handle communication with everyone else in the organization. This is because most problems occur internally, and transparent communication is necessary to fix them.

Thus, a good leader should be skillful in building trust with other employees and leaders within the organization, such that when there’s a problem, people can open up and speak, paving the way to a solution to the problem.

Involving the Team to Find a Solution

Great leaders don’t solve all the problems that their team brings up. Instead, an effective leader prompts the team to develop the habit of coming up with solutions to a problem.

The idea is to let people think for themselves and learn to fix most of their problems. Once they come up with a solution to a particular problem, you only come in to help them choose the appropriate solution.

So if you find a candidate who’s willing to involve the team in finding solutions to problems instead of coming up with the solutions single-handedly, consider such a candidate.

Handling More than One Problem

It’s common for several problems to emerge at once. For example, an employee may resign, some company assets may get lost, a data breach may occur, and a customer may sue the company.

These issues need quick solutions but are also overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions. For a person aspiring for the management role, they would do well to demonstrate the ability to solve 20 percent of those issues that cause 80 percent of the problems.

The other option is to solve one problem at a time. So, if a candidate suggests the possibility of solving multiple problems simultaneously, they’re probably not cut out for the leadership role.

2. Know How to Handle a Crisis

Many people believe that times of crisis help to bring out a person’s true leadership ability. In any organization, a disaster can strike at any moment; it could be a data breach, recall fiasco, or a customer service debacle, among others.

So it’s important to find out whether an aspiring leadership candidate knows what to do when things go awry. You may call their referrals or ask the applicant questions related to responding to a crisis within a company.

When receiving responses, evaluate the candidate’s ability to handle a crisis by analyzing the following aspects:

Honest with Self

Often, a crisis comes from within. For example, a faulty security procedure could be the cause. Internal conspiracy or poorly trained staff might be the culprit.

But when there’s a crisis, those at the helm tend to sweep problems under the carpet only to discover that it’s too late and things are getting out of control.

A diligent leader assembles a team to find out the potential causes of a problem and tasks the team members to tell the truth. If the leader spins the truth to cover up something, then they’re probably not smart enough to handle a crisis.

The Speed of Action

In evaluating a disaster, a capable leader works with a committed team to devise a plan. It’s essential to bring all options to the table and weigh them regardless of how undesirable they may look.

After making a decision and vetting a plan, the implementation should follow quickly. Time is critical in such cases and, so there’s little room for feet dragging or hesitating.

Some crises require same-day responses, and delaying could be seen as plain incompetence, which can aggravate the crisis. 

When there’s more time to weigh the options, by all means, take it. But, in general, you’ll need to act carefully and swiftly.

Thus, when vetting a potential leader for your company who handled a crisis in a similar role before, find out the duration between the first time the disaster occurred and the time they executed a solution or plan. Remember to consider the nature of the crisis as well.

Staying Focused in a Crisis

Even after a leader sets an action plan into motion to address a crisis, more setbacks and challenges usually arise. Even if you respond to the crisis impeccably, some business rivals and critics may use the opportunity to damage your organization further.

Old controversies and previous errors may re-emerge at this point. You need to ask the candidate what they did or can do in such a situation.

Naturally, a leader might feel doubtful and fearful as the troubles accumulate. But a good leader should not despair.

3. Should Know How to Motivate People

When interviewing your leadership candidates, find out how, through their work experience, they motivated others to accomplish goals.

To establish if someone has this skill, gauge from their response on whether they do the following things:

Complimenting Others

Everyone likes praise, which is why managers should know how to praise their people for their work and good qualities. A recent study shows that praise and recognition motivate employees to be more productive and remain loyal to the organization.

Finding Out What Motivates Employees

Great leaders express an interest in the interests, aspirations, and goals of their team members so that they can motivate them. After establishing that, they look at how to create opportunities for learning and development.

Availing The Resources Needed to Complete Work More Effectively

Great managers ask their team what they need, so they help them do a better job. You may realize that all an employee needs is more information to help make the right decisions, another working space, or better equipment. After knowing what people need, the leader should act on it.

Involving employees

A great manager knows that leadership and communication are multi-directional rather than one-way. That’s why it’s important to delegate duties and involve the team in decision making, especially when there’s a crisis.

Communication is vital for any project and situation. While some managers think that employees should self-teach and be self-driven, that does not always work in all situations.

If a team doesn’t understand what you’d like them to do, progress will halt, and frustrations are likely to arise. 

Final Word

When it’s time to hire a new person for the management position, take the time to assess the leadership capability of each candidate. 

If the person knows how to solve a crisis, motivate others, and can solve organizational problems, you may want to give them an opportunity to serve at your company.