Regardless of the size of your organisation or the type of business you are involved in, the quality of your leadership determines how well your company performs. Effective leaders know how to lead their organisations to greatness by empowering their teams. This means that good leaders can help a company find lasting success.
Unfortunately, effective leaders are not always easy to spot and sometimes recruiters can place people who are not fit in leadership positions. To help you avoid this pitfall when hiring leaders, we have put together a list of 6 important traits that you should look for when hiring a leader:
1. The business environment is very dynamic which means sticking with the same strategies won’t bring long-term growth. Leaders, therefore, need to be able to create strategic plans that will help the company keep growing regardless of future changes in the industry or market. Make sure the leaders you are considering bringing into your business can confidently answer questions regarding the future direction of the business and can point to something they did previously to help improve the prospects of a past employer with proactive changes to technique or technology. A candidate for a leadership position should at least provide a rudimentary plan that can help your company move in a positive direction.
2. This is a key skill critical to any position, and more so for leaders who without the ability to explain themselves effectively won’t be able to carry out their duties. Leaders of all levels will continuously be required to communicate numerous messages – such as their vision, plans, feelings and opinions – with different groups including clients, superiors, subordinates and peers. This requires frequent “code-switching” as every situation will require a different communication technique.
Luckily, poor communication skills are pretty easy to identify during the application process. Tell-tale signs of this include poorly written cover letters, poor delivery of answers during the interview and other communication failures.
3. An effective leader needs to be good at influencing others to do what is required of them. They need to convince others – juniors, peers and superiors alike – to follow their instructions. Leaders who cannot do this will have a problem effecting meaningful change in the organisation. Having influence takes more than speaking well; it’s about claiming authority and projecting confidence. For a leader to be able to influence a team, they must be a cultural fit with your workforce. This way they can match their influencing techniques with the people around them.
4. Decision-making. We make decisions on a daily basis: when to sleep, what to eat, what to wear etc. Leaders, however, are required to make decisions that have an impact on a lot of people. Leaders need to be swiftly decisive – even when they aren’t sure of themselves. Ask applicants to describe a difficult decision they had to make in the past, the method they used to make it, as well as the eventual results to get a picture of how good they are at making decisions.
5. Making a decision is one thing, but leaders also need to be able to fully understand the ramifications of the decisions they make in order to keep the business moving forward. Making a choice only takes a second but the analysis that precedes could take weeks or months. A good leader is one who understands the importance of allocating resources to analysis regardless of what the results will reveal about their decisions. The capability to effectively analyse situations requires above-average mental capabilities which recruiters can test using intelligence exams.
6. Leaders make decisions that result in less-than-favourable results from time to time. This will require them to change tactics to return the business back on track. Adaptation, although a painful process, is a critical requirement of business; and those who are unwilling to change will certainly lead their organisations to failure. Checking the work experience of a candidate can reveal their ability to alter strategies or modify plans for the betterment of their employer. People who uphold the status quo are not suited for leadership positions.