Ask a leadership coach
Ask a leadership expert:
What to Look for When Hiring a Leader
What to Look for in a Leader by Jenn DeWall Authentic Leadership Motivational Speaker & Coach. Focused on building human-centered relationships.
What to look for when hiring or promoting a leader
What to Look for in a Leader
What makes a great leader? Reflect on one of the best leaders that you ever had, what made them great? They likely had strong people skills, focused on development, and created an environment for you to thrive. That’s what you would look for when determining whether to promote someone to a leadership role, right? Then why is it that organizations sometimes determine who will be a leader based primarily on their performance than on their people skills?
Why does this matter? People leave managers, not organizations. If you hire a bad manager, it will cost you money in the long run via turnover and training expenses. In addition, when someone leaves, the organization will see decreased turnover, burnout, and increased tension as team members struggle to pick up the additional workload.
If you’re determining whether to promote or hire someone to be a people manager in your organization, here is what to look for in a leader. Below are four skills to look for when interviewing your next hire or promotion.
1. Emotional Intelligence (EQ). This is one of the essential skill sets that can determine effectiveness. Emotional intelligence is a combination of four things: social awareness, self-management, self-awareness, and relationship management. If the candidate shows poor aptitude in these areas, it could be a sign that they have low EQ. To identify EQ, ask open-ended behavioral questions like “How do you respond when someone comes to you very upset about an issue that you may have created?” or “Describe a time when you worked with someone that you disagreed with?”
2. Passion. Passion can be a predictor of influence and drive. Passion can also tell you whether or not someone will be committed to achieving organizational goals. Asking questions like, “tell me why you want this job?” or “what impact do you believe you would have in this role?” Get to the heart of why the candidate wants the job. If they give a short sullen answer, they may be looking more for a paycheck than an opportunity to make an impact.
3. Empathy. Your ability to relate to others and step into their shoes will impact your ability to build relationships. Empathy is a great way to show that you care for the employee as an individual not just as a means to get things done. According to Businessolvers’s 2017 Workplace Empathy Monitor Report, they found that 77% of workers would be willing to work more hours and accept a lower salary for an empathetic workplace. Empathetic leaders impact the bottom line. To determine empathy ask questions like “How do you react when someone comes to you to ask for help?” or “How do you handle sharing difficult news?”
4. Desire to grow others. If you want to make a stronger, more resilient organization, you need to foster a culture where the development of others is at the forefront. This requires individuals to take time to share skills and experiences for the betterment of others and the organization as a whole. If you do not hire someone interested in developing others, you will end up with silos on teams and vulnerability to turnover as the knowledge is contained to a single individual. Try asking questions like “Tell me a time you trained someone? Why did you train them? How did you balance the time investment?” or another question is “How do you ensure others around you have the essential skills to do their job?”
Jenn DeWall is a leadership coach, leadership keynote speaker, facilitator, and podcast host. Jenn is a Millennial leadership expert based in Denver, CO.