Identifying future leaders

May 25th 2017 | Posted by phil scott

How do you identify leaders in a future you can’t predict?

Although businesses can’t predict the future they can identify the intrinsic skills that make a good leader. Leaders are equipped to deal with the unknown and ready to adapt to technological, structural and economic changes. Skills such as good communication, bringing out the best in others, being receptive to feedback, admitting to and learning from mistakes and never letting ego stand in the way are all necessary to lead a business to success.
A new concept of leadership is emerging; one that doesn’t rely on a single figurehead, but values a ‘leadership team’ approach. Leaders shouldn’t be the only decision makers, they should listen to and learn from those around them. When the future is unpredictable it is vital to draw on a range of experience and skills. The best leaders have the ability to see leadership qualities in others and the self-awareness to bring others in to fill knowledge gaps.

Adapting to a changing business world

Strong leaders adopt a can-do attitude in the face of change. Rather than complaining about the problem, they take ownership of the solution. A passion for results and an ability to navigate ambiguity enables them to simplify complex issues; an invaluable skill in an unpredictable business world. To succeed, leaders should be skilled at juggling competing demands and comfortable adapting to new scenarios and people within the workforce.
Past performance is a good indication of a leader. HRs should identify individuals who achieved positive results by motivating others to follow their vision. They also understand that business progress is not simply dependent on internal talent, but that fresh-thinking and expertise from outside the organisation can be a huge contributor. Success is not just borne out of long-standing experience but also from curiosity and an eagerness to engage in skill-building activities.

Developing leaders of the future

In a constantly evolving business environment, there is an argument for recruiting generalists rather than specialists because they can be developed to add value rather than being set in their ways. Softer skills such as flexibility and a willingness to adapt and embrace change can be just as important as traditional technical skills. A strong leader has the capacity to develop new skills rather than being entrenched in existing ones. There is an advantage to be gained from professionals who have no prior experience within the company who are keen to learn and identify areas they can improve. They can bring a genuine passion to a new challenge rather than relying on a tried-and-tested approach that may not be suited to a changing world. In short, strong leaders perform effectively because they can incorporate new skills into their repertoire.

Look to the future and shape it to suit you

Great leaders don’t predict the future, they create it. In an uncertain business world how can HR professionals identify the next generation of leaders? They need to be willing to move away from the traditional routes they have long relied on to recruit top level staff. Businesses need innovative new ideas, and while there may be a pool of talented professionals with the relevant sector expertise within the existing workforce, businesses should be ready to embrace the new approach that talent outside of their field has to offer. Strong leadership requires a blend of the inherited and the acquired. Drawing on your best existing talent and developing outstanding new talent is the perfect combination to successfully lead your business into an unpredictable future.