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How to Identify Great Leaders

Some of the most challenging positions to hire for, whether you’re hiring externally or promoting from within, are leadership roles. Think back to your less-than-desirable managers or team leaders in the past. Many of them had no business in their role at all—not everyone is capable of successfully leading a team. If you find yourself seeking a leadership position or are already in one, there are a few things you can keep in mind to ensure your success. If you’re a hiring manager seeking new talent, be on the lookout for these characteristics in applicants.


  1. Give constructive feedback.

This is one of the most important elements of effective communication. To lead a project well, you will need to clarify direction, set expectations, devise strategies, and address performance issues. Give feedback often to ensure your team knows that they’re on the right track. Here are a few ways to give feedback well:

  • Approach individuals directly.
  • Be specific and use examples.
  • Keep feedback simple.
  • Focus on the issue, not the person.
  • Be available to discuss the feedback and check in on the issue until it’s resolved.


  1. Recognize employees.

Feedback is important, but so is recognizing individual and team accomplishments. A simple thank you to your team or recognizing an individual for their role in a successful project can go a long way. However, structured recognition programs have become highly favored by employees as well. A survey from the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute found that employees who work for companies offering recognition programs, especially those that provide rewards based on demonstrating core values, had a more satisfying employee experience. Eighty-one percent of employees at these companies were satisfied, compared to 62 percent at companies with no formal program.


  1. Have check-in meetings.

Regularly scheduled meetings with your team can be productive if held correctly. Always have an agenda, even if it’s as simple as checking in on a few key concerns that regularly come up. These check-in meetings don’t have a to be a time-waster. You only need about 15 minutes to address any key concerns that arrive. This helps keep leaders in the loop and employees have an opportunity to voice concerns and ideas.


  1. Let employees be decision makers.

One of the best things a leader can do to maintain a healthy relationship with employees is to give them the freedom to make decisions. In the same IBM survey, employees who felt their ideas and suggestions mattered were more than twice as likely to report a positive workplace experience than those who didn’t—83 percent compared to 34 percent. Rather than making every decision for your team, guide employees to make the right decisions themselves, instead. This will give them a sense of ownership of their work and even produce better results.


These are only a few of the characteristics of good workplace leaders. For more tips on hiring and growing your team, sign up for our newsletter.

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