7 Simple Steps to Find More Leaders in Your Company

AdVance Leadership » 7 Simple Steps to Find More Leaders in Your Company

Welcome to Friday 411, issue #029. In 4 minutes, with 1 insight and 1 action, you’ll learn a simple exercise to determine the most important leadership traits for your organization. 

1 Insight

By identifying common traits every leader in your organization must demonstrate, you accelerate the development of current and future leaders.

According to an Association of Talent Development (ATD) survey, 83% of companies say that that they need leaders at every level of the organization to fulfill their goals for the future. In other words, they need better leaders, and they need more leaders.

Yet only 5% of companies are developing leaders at every level.

The first step in developing more and better leaders in your organization is to decide it’s important enough to take action. Once you’ve made that decision, implement four Building Blocks:

  1. Define leadership.
  2. Identify traits every leader must share.
  3. Enable leadership conversations.
  4. Create pathways, not programs.

The second step – identifying traits every leader must share – often gets overlooked. People assume that they know what a leader is when they see one. But, when everyone assumes they know what a leader is, few people are assuming the same thing.

When your team agrees on common traits that must be present in every leader, you can accelerate the development of leaders in your organization by:

  1. Upgrading current leaders
  2. Determining programming
  3. Identifying potential leaders
  4. Developing potential leaders

Recently, we at AdVance Leadership helped one of our international clients identify the characteristics that must be true of every leader at their company. Here is the seven-step process we took them through.

Step 1: Identify One Great Leader at Your Company

Gather your Leadership Team together. Have each member write down the name of one individual in your company who exemplifies great leadership. Every person on your team gets to pick a person. Their choice doesn’t need to be someone on the leadership team or even someone in a current leadership position.

Here’s what our client did: There were ten people on the team. One leader, Dale, identified Renae as a great leader.

Step 2: Determine What Actions Make Someone a Great Leader

Give each person time to write down their answer to this question: What are the actions and behaviors this person does that makes him or her a great leader? Each person should be as specific as possible.

Here’s what our client did: Dale identified several actions that Renae does that make her a great leader. Here are three of the actions he wrote down:

Step 3: Connect Characteristics to Actions

Each member of the Leadership Team should now look at those actions and record their answer to this question: What leadership characteristics does each action demonstrate?

Here’s what our client did: Dale identified the leadership characteristics connected to those actions. Here’s how he did it:

This step is often the most difficult because participants don’t know how to identify leadership characteristics. In our research, we’ve found seven traits that continually pop up in this exercise. Your team may identify these universal traits or discover additional traits that are specific to your organization.

  1. Character – leaders do the right thing.
  2. Competence – leaders develop the skills needed to take the team to the next level.
  3. Capacity – leaders give time, energy, and attention to leading others.
  4. Clarity – leaders communicate where the team is going, how it’s getting there, why it’s important, and each person’s role.
  5. Community – leaders build an environment of safety, trust, collaboration, and growth.
  6. Culture – leaders create an atmosphere that embodies the values.
  7. Consistency – leaders are dependable in their vision, words, attitudes, and expectations.

Step 4: Select Another Leader

Now, have each member of your team select another person they believe is a great leader at your company. Go through the list of characteristics from Step 3 and answer this question: Which of these characteristics from Step 3 does this second leader demonstrate? 

Here’s what our client did: Dale selected Rob as the second leader. He looked at the list he had made for Renae. He said that Rob Seeks Continual Improvement, Values Relationships, and practiced Ruthless Prioritization.

Step 5: Compile Answers

Have each person on your team share their answers to Steps 1-4. Pay attention to the behaviors and characteristics that multiple people point out. Create a joint list of leadership characteristics that are mentioned more than once.

Here’s what our client did: The team talked through their answers. They identified a list of 15 traits that they believed were consistently demonstrated by the best leaders in the company.

Step 6: Narrow Down the Characteristics

Once you’ve compiled the list, narrow down the number of leadership characteristics to ten or fewer. One question that can help you with this is: Which of these characteristics must be true of every leader at every position in your company?

At the end of this step, your team should be able to look at this list and say, “That’s exactly what we expect a leader to ‘look like’ in our business!”

Here’s what our client did: The team wrestled with narrowing down their original list of 15 traits. They came up with:

  1. Demonstrates Character
  2. Driven for Results
  3. Builds Relationships
  4. Seeks Continual Improvement
  5. Prioritizes Ruthlessly

Step 7: Identify People Who Already Demonstrate These Characteristics

With this list of leadership characteristics in hand, start identifying people in your company who already have some or most of these characteristics. Congratulations! You’ve just discovered the high-potential leaders of the future for your company.

Additionally, you should start talking publicly about your list of leadership characteristics. Doing this allows every person in the company to know (1) what to look for in a leader and (2) how to grow to get promoted to leadership.

When everyone in the company becomes clear on what the characteristics of a leader are at your company, it helps you develop more and better leaders.

Here’s what our client did: After the team celebrated that they had determined the characteristics, they started thinking about people in the company who already demonstrated some or all of these.

One of the most exciting moments happened when they started talking about Joe. Joe was a quiet person who rarely spoke up unless called upon. Yet he lived out all the leadership characteristics. No one had ever considered Joe for a leadership position because he was so quiet. Yet the whole team realized that he would be a great leader.


Want to help your company unleash its leaders?

  1. Get your team to subscribe to the Friday411 newsletter.
  2. Get your copy of Gettin' (un)Busy, named by Forbes as “one of the books everyone on your team should read.”
  3. Email Garland to train your company’s leaders. We will equip them with 7 traits that solve 95% of their leadership challenges.
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