Which characteristics do you seek when considering employees for promotions or recruiting for a management position? Specific personality traits are necessary to handle leadership responsibilities, navigate the company’s mission and vision, and merit the organization’s trust. Promoting or hiring the wrong leaders can expose your company to risk and create a toxic work environment, leading to lost productivity, low morale and high turnover.
We’ll examine three crucial leadership characteristics to pinpoint when you’re recruiting or promoting leaders, as well as touch on additional leadership traits that can bring out the best in teams and help steer your organization toward success.
During the recruitment process — whether you’re recruiting internally or hiring from the outside — choosing candidates for leadership positions requires great care. Focus on the following characteristics to ensure you award power to the right people, and check that you also possess these traits.
While leadership styles may differ, all leaders must command respect. Respect is based on what you say and who you are. Employees in smaller businesses witness their leaders’ actions and words up close and evaluate their character based on personal interactions.
Ask yourself the following questions about potential leadership hires. (You can also use these questions to evaluate yourself as a leader.)
Employees evaluate these elements to determine a leader’s trust levels. If someone demonstrates integrity as a leader, their employees will model this behavior, and the same is true if a team witnesses a lack of integrity.
For example, leaders don’t want employees to steal from the company. Therefore, the leader must demonstrate that honesty is part of the company’s code of ethics and conduct by not stealing from the government, customers or suppliers. If a leader is unethical, their employees will notice and act accordingly.
Asking this important interview question can help reveal a potential leader’s character: What are the top three characteristics that define you? Give examples from your life.
Leaders must understand the correct job procedures and be able to train new employees. Anyone you recruit or promote into a leadership position must demonstrate excellent knowledge of their proposed new management area.
Job and procedure knowledge helps earn employees’ respect toward their leaders. Employees appreciate and respect leaders who understand the nuances of their job functions. While the leader won’t perform these duties daily, their understanding of their employees’ job roles builds mutual trust, respect and credibility.
Many companies promote internally when management positions arise because these leadership candidates have proved their competence and will command immediate respect in their new role.
Every organization member must know and understand what’s happening on a micro and macro level. If an employee performs a task without knowing its ramifications, they can end up disengaged. Therefore, leaders must communicate not just what employees must do but also why they are doing it. Quality organizations don’t adopt a “because I said so” mindset when employees ask why something is happening. Articulating the “why” gets everyone on board with the company’s plans and direction.
Additionally, leaders don’t use information (or the lack of it) as a weapon. Instead, they’re transparent about what’s happening in the organization, helping everyone get on the same page. Transparency in business communication and actions creates increased motivation, morale and engagement.
Look for “information generosity” in those you seek to promote. If leadership candidates unnecessarily keep work-related information away from co-workers now, they’ll likely maintain this approach when placed in a higher management role.
Small business owners can’t afford to have supervisors who are “information hoarders” and leave frontline workers in the dark. All of your employees should feel like they’re part of a team, and true teams have all the information they need to understand the business’s big picture and why they’re performing specific functions.
In addition to the three C’s outlined above, other characteristics are essential in potential managers and executives. Here are a few traits to look for when you’re promoting or hiring leaders:
Paul Comfort contributed to this article.