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Robert Denker, Ph.D.
Five key things to look for in emerging leaders

Collaboration, participation, and time management head the list.

February 24, 2014
by Robert Denker, Ph.D.

Leaders are increasingly being asked to identify the emerging leaders in their organizations. Although most senior leaders embrace the importance of succession, they often struggle to ensure they have a defined template for selecting those capable of leading the business into the future.

To help in this process, we recently examined 360-degree performance appraisal data on more than 120 emerging leaders from 18 North American companies to see what leadership competencies ranked as important in selecting internal associates for leadership roles. What appear to matter are themes related to collaboration, participation, and a focus on making relationships work.

Here are the top five competencies for emerging leaders:

1. Is effective at collaboration

Emerging leaders are those who effectively collaborate and can maintain cooperative work relationships with others. They complete their own tasks for group projects in a timely and responsible manner, which directly contributes to the group goal.

Those who do this well demonstrate the following behaviors:
  • Assist others in the completion of their tasks to support the team goals.
  • Build and maintain cooperative work relationships with others.
  • Listen to and value the input of others.
  • Effectively collaborate in meetings and in informal interactions.

2. Delivers consistent and collective results

Emerging leaders who are effective in delivering results not only assume personal responsibility for achieving outcomes but also work effectively with others to ensure collective results are delivered. In short, they are dependable, responsible, team focused, and sharing.

Those who do this well demonstrate the following behaviors:
  • Work on the right tasks by ensuring they know their top deliverables and those of the team.
  • Finish what they start.
  • Assume personal responsibility for achieving outcomes under their purview.
  • Actively lend their support to others to help ensure team success.

3. Manages his or her time and others’ time

Emerging leaders are competent at managing their time and the time of others. They effectively handle multiple demands and competing deadlines. They excel at identifying goals, developing plans, estimating time frames, defining contingencies, and monitoring their progress and the progress of those whose collaboration is needed.

Those who manage their time and others’ time effectively also demonstrate the following behaviors:
  • Use technology to effectively track and steer their work and that of the team.
  • Develop contingency plans in anticipation of possible problems and adverse consequences.

4. Is effective in relationship management

Emerging leaders who are effective work hard to develop positive relationships with individuals outside their work group and in particular with their peers. They frequently consider how their actions and decisions may impact other work groups/teams and work collaboratively to accomplish collective or shared goals.

Those who are effective in relationship management demonstrate the following behaviors:
  • Make the effort to understand and meet the needs of others.
  • Personalize work relationships to facilitate productive and collaborative work settings.

5. Is an active meeting contributor

Emerging leaders are active contributors/participants at meetings. They are prepared, offer their point of view, and volunteer and accept action items resulting from these meetings.

Those who do this well demonstrate the following behaviors:
  • Prepare beforehand, reviewing the agenda and selecting in advance where they will make a contribution to the agenda.
  • Listen openly to the ideas of others and give feedback in a constructive way.
  • Volunteer and accept action items resulting from the outcome of the meeting.
Going forward

Identifying emerging leaders does not need to be an unsettling process for those charged with this task. Using these top five competencies and their respective behaviors as a starting point can aid senior leaders in making a more informed evaluation of emerging leaders in their organization.

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Robert Denker, Ph.D., MBA, is managing principal of rd&partners, an executive coaching and assessment firm that helps organizations across North America and Europe build and retain their top performing talent.