I was asked recently, when looking to promote internal candidates for management positions, how do you recognize and determine leadership ability?
The answer is multi-faceted in that, there is no one clear answer. Rather, it is in the day to day movements of the candidate. How they navigate throughout their day and their behavior.
It may sound funny at first but paying close attention to a candidate's level of energy often answers many questions about their leadership potential. How do they accept work assignments? Is it with gusto and an internal drive to succeed? Are they almost always willing to take on new and exciting (or not so exciting) projects? When given a new task, are they asking questions? Do they instinctively see the big picture and what needs to be accomplished from an operational level?
If experience has taught me anything, it’s that the best leaders are the ones who connect with the work they do. They have an understanding of how important the work is, and the difference it makes to their customers, their staff and to the organization overall. This type of candidate creates purpose within their team.
This tells a lot about their level of emotional intelligence. Is their first instinct to involve people when they are given a new project to work on? Do they willingly seek counsel and advice from peers? Do they communicate with other departments and co-workers regularly? Do they want to bring people together because they are excited and believe in the project? Are they transparent about what they are trying to accomplish? Are they inclusive? Are they able to keep a level head through times of stress and real challenge? How do they rebound? Do they blame others for their mistakes?
Consider From Within
There are many other components that determine leadership potential and each manager has a different way of gauging that. Hiring internally has its advantages. You can see the day to day style of the candidate and whether or not they exhibit these leadership qualities in real life situations. If given the choice, 70% of management would rather hire internally versus hiring outside the organization according to a recent Joblist survey. Clearly, they are on to something.
Evaluating the day to day movements of a potential internal candidate will tell you more about their leadership style and capabilities than any resume will. Most usually, internal hires have tenure and understand the inner workings of the organization. Hiring Managers love this because the on-boarding process is cut down significantly.
However, an issue that occurs with internal hires may be a lack of innovation and fresh ideas because they have been "in' the organization a long time, at times failing to see a new perspective.
Ultimately, the right fit is determined by your company's culture, understanding what is most desired and valued from within.