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Real Leadership Potential: 15 Ways to Spot Great Leaders

In our latest book, Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success, we identify characteristics people need in leadership positions to be successful.

We look for successful leaders when we make hiring decisions, but the unquantifiables are tough to judge from a resume or even from an interview. How do we hire for success? How do we hire good potential leaders who are also  great team players?

When we are looking to build a team, we want people with great ideas, people with expertise, and people who will help our organization grow, but we also want more.

When we hire, we want people who display a great attitude, who project helpfulness and friendliness, and who want to help others be successful. What does that look like? How does that translate into leadership behaviors? What do superstars do?

Here are a few specific actions that current and future great leaders and team players do to help themselves and others succeed.

  1. They remind others 24 hours in advance of planned meetings, phone calls, and deadlines.
  2. They stand up for co-workers who are doing the right thing.
  3. They keep the boss and their employees informed about what is going on, both good and the bad news.
  4. They start and end meetings on time.
  5. They have agendas for meetings so they don’t waste other people’s time.
  6. They are 5 minutes early for meetings, because keeping others waiting is disrespectful.
  7. They are as respectful to the people who empty the garbage and vacuum the floors as they are to the CEO and their best customers.
  8. They are up to date about current events and industry events. They are experts in their field and interesting conversationalists.
  9. They are grateful, and they show it. They know how to say thank you to specific people, for specific actions, at appropriate times, in a way that does not come at the expense of others.
  10. They are generous with their time when people have a problem.
  11. They put down their cell phone, move away from the keyboard, and focus when others are talking.
  12. They don’t walk past trash on the ground. They pick it up and throw it away.
  13. They remember the important life events of those around them: births, deaths, weddings, and birthdays.
  14. When they learn they are wrong, they change their mind.
  15. They make the right decisions, even when those decisions are not popular.

What other actions have you seen great leaders do? Please post here.


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