While there are some obvious traits leaders possess (i.e. taking initiative, working hard, good with people, etc.), here are a few specific traits you can look for:
1. Future leaders naturally attract followers. Good leadership is contagious. If you want to identify a future leader on your team, look for the person everyone enjoys being around. If people respect this person now, they’ll have an easier time respecting his or her leadership.
2. Future leaders are easy to spot in meetings. This doesn’t mean they’re always the ones sharing their ideas. Instead, potential leaders are the ones asking the right questions, leaning in to learn more, and even challenging the status quo.
3. Future leaders can solve problems. Good leaders are problem-solvers. If you want to identify a potential future leader in your organization, find out if he or she is gifted in solving problems and being proactive about creating solutions.
4. Future leaders bring valuable ideas to your team. Good leaders feed off the ideas and thoughts of others. If you think a person might have the ability to become a key leader in your organization, bring him or her in on a higher-level meeting and see how the interaction goes. Does he provide value? Is she honest in her ideas and opinions? If so, that person is displaying what it takes to champion great ideas.
5. Future leaders can handle pressure. Pressure is the catalyst for turning a piece of coal into a diamond. If you want to identify and develop leaders within your organization, give them a task or an assignment that pushes them out of their comfort zone. You’ll be able to see how they handle a glimpse of the pressure that comes with any leadership role.
Depending on the size of your organization, you might have 2-3 or 20-30 individuals who possess the traits of growing into leadership. The next step is to help them grow.