In my last blog, I referred to qualities that successors must have for leadership. While you are looking to find and prepare your successors, in my experience in helping companies with their succession planning, I have seen similar characteristics of great leaders over and over. I would like to take this opportunity to share them with you.
The first is that your successor must be articulate. This is fundamental. They must be clear in their expression and concise when addressing their audience. Their tone and choice of words must be solid and their ability to clearly explain decisions and actions in terms of their vision and goals is key.
In my previous blog, I also mentioned that great leaders typically rise to the challenge during crisis or turbulent times. Know that simply because a leader stepped up once and successfully met the challenges in a previous time, does not mean that they will be successful continuously. Past success does not guarantee future success. This is where a strong and continuous development plan must be put in place.
Another area where great leaders have a tremendous impact is the ability to influence others. Typically this is a natural ability – it is an influence of trust. Being trustworthy and giving the respect to others that lead and have led. Natural leaders have a tendency to express their ideas and to gain support for those ideas without commanding others to adopt them.
Of course there are many other critical factors that best leaders share but probably the most important is that of credibility. This must be earned. It is earned by others recognizing leadership qualities and giving potential successors the opportunity to lead. These leaders also clearly understand risk; they know how to take calculated risks and how to minimize the downside of risk through discipline, preparation and performance.
In summary, we all recognize great leaders instantly. Leadership is a precious gift but one that needs to be worked on daily. Great leadership requires knowledge, experience, good judgment, interpersonal skills and credibility. Easy right?