Many business leaders fall into the Baby Boomer generation and are edging toward retirement, leaving these organizations with a void to fill regarding new leadership. Millennials are being targeted as future leaders and for proactive companies, as soon as a new hire accepts employment they’re assessed for their leadership potential. Most talent management experts would agree the earlier you can identify strong talent potential, the better your business, and its competitive edge.

Businesses are struggling to fill opening leadership positions, particularly in the face of a looming skills gap. That makes proactive identification and the subsequent nurturing of that talent even more imperative.

So the question becomes, how do you spot talent as early on in a person’s career as possible?

  1. Observe How Failures Are Handled

It may sound counterintuitive to link failures with high performing employees and potential leaders, but, in reality, seeing how an employee approaches and overcomes failure can be a great indicator of strong leadership qualities. Some employees may become discouraged or disengaged when faced with failure while leaders tend to be those individuals that not only take responsibility but also look for ways to change their actions to remedy the situation.

  1. Look for Positivity

You may think positivity and leadership inherently go hand-in-hand, but think about how many people in current leader roles tend to display negative attitudes. Leaders who believe they can intimidate subordinates into achieving goals reveal negative attitudes, but the teams that accomplish the most tend to have leaders who are positive, forward-thinking and unwilling to dwell on negative behaviors or perspectives.

  1. How Open Are Employees to Feedback?

A strong leader is frequently someone who’s open and willing to receive and implement a variety of feedback, both positive and negative. Taking feedback into consideration isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and the willingness to continuously evolve and grow as an employee and a potential leader.

  1. Seek Out Flexibility

Most of us have seen those employees who are extremely regimented and rigid in the workplace. They have a set system and schedule for how everything gets done, and they often stick to a pre-determined protocol in their methodology. This can be great for staying on task and achieving goals, but this approach may not be the best for leaders. Leaders tend to be those employees that can navigate a variety of challenges and respond to them on-the-fly. Leaders also work to find new and innovative solutions to old problems and more efficient and effective ways to do things. If you see employees willing to veer off the standard path to achieve more, they may actually be better leader candidates than the employees who insist on rigidity.

The Leadership Challenge

No successful organization can remain as such without an incredibly strong team of leaders at the forefront. With large numbers of retirements facing companies large and small, now is the time to start identifying leadership qualities in new hires and current employees, and then putting in place the necessary development programs to cultivate their skills and abilities.

Author's Bio: 

Susan is a marketing writer and blogger helping small and medium size businesses craft winning content strategies.