“When is someone ready to lead?” It’s a simple, straightforward question leaders ask about their teammates and teammates ask about themselves. Although there isn’t a simple checklist that determines one’s capacity for influencing others or readiness for direct reports, there are seven characteristics I always look for in my leaders.
- They are viewed as a go to person before they’re given a title. Others (including their leader) go to this person for advice, assistance, and direction on projects.
- They are eager to lead without a title. The individual is motivated to serve as a project lead or in some other role that enables him/her to help the team succeed. They take on these roles without expecting immediate additional compensation, and they willingly accept the sacrifices that come along with leading others.
- They understand and follow through on being responsible for others’ development and growth.
- They address conflict with care and candor, even with peers in other departments.
- They approach the call to lead with humility. They desire to serve well, and that desire is balanced with a high level of competence and urgency for excellent performance.
- Their ego is under control, and they are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Other titled leaders in the organization want access to or speak highly of this person.
These characteristics rank among my top qualities for up-and-coming leaders, and especially those who will be directly responsible for leading others. What would you add to this list?