Selecting Future Leaders: 4 Essential Characteristics To Look For

The process of selecting future leaders is a critical and complex aspect of an organization’s success. Leaders must possess a distinctive amalgamation of attributes and competencies, which enable them to inspire, encourage, and guide their team toward a unified objective. Recognizing individuals with these exceptional qualities is of utmost importance in order to establish a robust foundation for the organization’s continued growth and success.

This resource will focus on four key qualities that contribute to effective leadership. By presenting a collection of practical tools and techniques, the aim is to streamline the process of pinpointing and selecting remarkable individuals with leadership potential. These tools will assist organizations in making informed decisions, ensuring they choose the right candidates to lead their teams and drive the organization forward.

1. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a scientifically recognized predictor of effective leadership. EQ encompasses four essential components that are pivotal for leaders to skillfully manage the intricacies of interpersonal relationships and cultivate a supportive work atmosphere.

These components comprise:

  • Perceiving emotions: Understanding and correctly identifying feelings in both yourself and others, which includes being able to read nonverbal signals like facial expressions and body language;
  • Using emotions: Using emotions to help with thinking tasks like making decisions, solving problems, and being creative;
  • Understanding emotions: The skill to comprehend emotional information, discern complex emotions, and appreciate how emotions evolve and change over time;
  • Managing emotions: The ability to regulate one’s own emotions and effectively influence the emotions of others, particularly during challenging or stressful situations.

Leaders with high EQ can foster a positive and productive work environment, handle conflicts adeptly, and inspire their team members. To assess emotional intelligence, consider using the following tools and techniques:

  • Emotional Intelligence Appraisal: This assessment tool, developed by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, provides valuable insights into a person’s emotional intelligence strengths and areas for improvement;
  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT): Measures a person’s ability to understand and control emotions, including their own and others’, and provides objective feedback on their emotional skills.

2. Adaptability

Adaptable leaders can navigate the complexities of a constantly changing environment and embrace change as an opportunity for growth. They are skilled at adjusting their approach when faced with new challenges or circumstances, allowing them to stay ahead in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Effective leaders inspire their people to be flexible and receptive to change and create a culture of flexibility that benefits the entire organization.

To assess adaptability, the following strategies can be considered:

  • Change Style Indicator (CSI): Developed by Discovery Learning, the CSI is a research-based assessment tool that measures an individual’s preferred style in approaching and addressing change. It categorizes change styles into three types: Conservers, Pragmatists, and Originators;
  • Case studies and simulations: Presenting real-life scenarios or hypothetical situations that can provide valuable insights into their adaptability.

3. Vision and Strategic Thinking

It has been demonstrated that leaders with a clear vision and great strategic thinking skills are more effective at guiding their teams and companies to long-term success. These visionary leaders can anticipate future trends, identify opportunities for growth, and develop comprehensive plans that position their organizations for continued success.

Consider these suggested methods when evaluating visionary and strategic thinking abilities:

  • Strategic Aptitude Assessment (SAA): It’s a tool for gauging strategic thinking abilities. This includes their ability to solve problems, make sound decisions, and see ahead to potential problems;
  • In-depth discussions: Initiating dialogues with prospective leaders concerning the trajectory of the industry or the organization can yield a significant understanding of their foresight and capacity for strategic analysis. Request that they articulate their perspectives on burgeoning tendencies, foreseeable obstacles, and avenues for expansion.

4. Collaboration and Team Building

Future leaders must be able to develop team unity and cooperation through collaboration and team building. Collaborative leaders positively impact team performance, innovation, and overall organizational success.

Evaluating a candidate’s collaboration and team-building skills can be done using various assessment tools and techniques, as outlined below:

  • Team Management Profile (TMP): It’s a psychometric assessment instrument to aid in determining an individual’s work preferences and team roles. Improve team output and cohesiveness by learning how each member approaches their task, makes decisions, and communicates with others through the TMP;
  • Belbin Team Role Inventory: A widely recognized assessment tool that measures an individual’s behavioral strengths and weaknesses within a team setting. Using the Belbin Team Role Inventory to assess collaboration and team-building skills can provide valuable insights into how they can contribute to team dynamics and performance.


Selecting future leaders is a crucial task that significantly impacts the long-term success of an organization. By carefully considering and assessing various aspects of a candidate’s leadership potential, organizations can identify individuals who possess the right qualities to lead their teams toward a brighter future. By integrating emotional intelligence, adaptability, vision and strategic thinking, and cooperation and team-building skills, leaders may promote an atmosphere of growth, innovation, and cohesion within their teams.

It is essential for organizations to invest in the right assessment tools and techniques to identify these qualities in their future leaders, ensuring a prosperous and thriving future for all.