7 Keys For Selecting A Solid Leader
When you have the opportunity to take part in selecting a leader, you take on a responsibility that can affect the course of many over the foreseeable future.
The process for selecting leaders can come in many forms – hiring a subordinate to run a department, being on a panel to choose a board or advisory member, voting as a citizen in an election, having a voice in who the new manager, director, or vice president of your organization may be. Each situation and organization will be different, but there are key principles in discerning and identifying who the best leader will be for that role.
Here are 7 key principles to help you select a solid leader:
- Alignment with Core Values. First and foremost, this is the most critical aspect. If a leader does not at least meet the non-negotiable core values of your organization, they will not be in the your best interest. Preferably the candidate should have a measure of all core values intact; while there are no perfect candidates, then the one that is most aligned with your key values should be pursued. If all candidates fall short, then you may need to continue searching and seeking out those who best meet this criteria. Bringing a leader in with that is not aligned in your values will lead to division and a bastardization of your organization’s identity and bring great if not irreparable harm.
- Character and Integrity. Any prospective leader must have credibility and trust in their makeup. If during the selection process they embellish or stretch their achievements, then you should move forward to the next candidate. Trust and the engagement that follows is such a fragile component and lack of character will fall short of keeping your people united. Pursue a leader who has unquestionable integrity and that person will serve you well.
- Authenticity Quotient (AQ). While similar to C&I above, AQ is the transparency of the person’s heart, agenda, and philosophies. A leader I sought to investigate more of I found to have a high degree of authenticity, even though they did not match the culture we were seeking. This did not mean the person would not be successful, just not in that particular organization. I sincerely praise them for their authenticity, and feel they can be extremely successful in the right venue. Make sure your candidates score high enough on AQ to never question their purpose and direction.
- Empowerment of Others. So many leaders are chosen with good marks in the above areas, but fail miserably because they have no belief in their people. Whether they micro-manage, have an air of superiority, or ignore the talent of their human resources, these leaders will inevitably fail to inspire and unite a team or community. A leader that appreciates the intrinsic value of their people and those they serve allows people to grow, thrive, and prosper, thereby strengthening the organization and the pride everyone has about it.
- Confident Humility. A tag line of Karin Hurt’s Let’s Grow Leaders, and a powerful leadership trait. A candidate for leadership should be confident in their ability to teach and inspire, yet have genuine humility to allow themselves to be taught and held accountable. Confident humility is not oxymoronic, but two sides of the leadership coin that show a person’s balance in growing and leading.
- Proven Results. You can, and should, always judge people by the fruits of their works. So many people can claim to have a degree, or achieve certain metrics, or lead and enact change, but what was their true role in those endeavors, if any? With the advent of social media and the information age, most leaders achievements can be found quite readily, and while you may have to take time on a few others, the benefits of discovering their true achievements greatly reward the effort. You want a leader to can make “X, Y, and Z” happen, but if they haven’t proved they have achieved “X”, or even (little) “x” then you may want to question what they are actually capable of, or intending.
- A Complement to the Culture. While culture is a defining measure of any organization, not every leader or every person will be a “cookie-cutter”. The diversity of your team will merely be the reach of people who mirror your values and believe in your mission, and your next leader will as well. Look for leaders that may not be like the last leader, but a great compliment in their own unique gifts and abilities to fit and enable your organization to move forward. Remember, a leader will not always be liked, but if they are at least respected and are known for making sound judgments that benefit others, they will be someone whose impact will endure in a positive light an spur perhaps a next generation of solid leaders beyond their tenure.
In every key decision, you cannot defer this responsibility or take it too lightly. While you may not have the time to delve deeply into each potential person’s qualifications like you want to, to neglect doing so may mean rushing the process and bringing the wrong leader aboard. Not every leader will have a spotless resume – all of us are by nature imperfect anyway – but a discerning mind will separate the truth from the error and see the overall big picture of the individual in question. Vital personnel decisions should be thought through carefully and dissected to ensure a discerning look into who is the best and most sustainable long-term fit to lead your people, and perhaps yourself.
Take the time to study and select your next leaders. Our companies, communities, societies, and families depend on it.