Research indicates that companies with a solid pipeline of emerging leaders are far better equipped to weather any storm and to succeed in spite of any challenge.  There is no doubt that leadership affects the performance of every organization – for better or worse – in good times and in bad.

But how, exactly, do we define leadership in order to identify the natural leaders within an organization?  Here is a working definition:

Leaders are the visionaries among us who captivate attention and get results by inspiring and empowering others to act. They instill hope and motivate change, transforming circumstances through the power of positive attitude and purposeful action.  They are natural influencers, attracting the right people to join forces and get the job done. They play team, recognizing the contribution of others, as well as their own, but never grandstanding.  They share both the wealth and the rewards of their efforts with the people who helped make it happen.

Identifying and nurturing the leaders within your organization can positively transform your business.  The tricky thing is leaders aren’t always easy to spot by looking at a resume, or by the title on their name plate.

Here are a few tips on finding the  leader or leaders in your business or organization:

Leader is not a title. Not all CEOs and company Presidents are leaders.  Leaders, like cream, often rise up from the bottom of the organization by demonstrating solid relationship qualities such as good listening, planning, and problem solving.  These people tend to be at the front of the pack, regardless of position, and are always making a little extra effort to help chart the course for the whole group. Hint: the employee who spends their own time thinking about the big picture direction for the business is a potential leader.

Leaders influence without dominating. Leaders are people whom others naturally trust. They listen carefully and intently to what others are saying.  Rather than being demanding or extremely authoritative, leaders influence change by clearly demonstrating the value so that others feel comfortable following.  Hint: the person to whom others are taking their problems and seeking out for support is probably a natural leader.

Leadership is not a “rating” but a “perception”. Leadership is not about how you are “ranked” in title or length of service, but rather in how others perceive and respond to you. Hint: the employee who easily gathers a crowd in the hallway to delegate tasks for the office party may have real leadership potential.

Leadership cannot be bought or measured in monetary terms. The strongest leaders don’t always make the most money, because leadership and rank don’t always go hand in hand. Hint: if the janitor stops by to share an idea with you, listen.  It might just be the leadership idea that takes your business to the next level.

Leaders are effective. Natural leaders look at their impact on others and on the organization as a whole as the best measure of success.  Therefore, they place great importance on efficiency and effectiveness, regardless of their position.  Hint: the employee who finishes every project ahead of schedule may be a leader.

Leaders communicate: Communication, motivation, discipline, managing conflict, marketing and recruitment are all important facets of leadership.  Leadership means having the tough conversations and revealing what’s real…at all times.  Hint: The person who approaches a difficult issue or conflict with an open mind and open ear, and without defensiveness, is demonstrating leadership.

Leadership is perception, and perception begins with you.  Who in your own life demonstrated the leadership qualities that influenced you most? How are you personally demonstrating leadership in your business?  Are you the kind of leader others will naturally follow? If so, look around, because there are bound to be some up and coming leaders following your lead.

Enjoy the process of identifying the natural leaders in your business, guiding and nurturing them, and then celebrating the rewards of your collective efforts.

Until next time ~

Your success is my business,