Identifying Leadership Potential and Building Leadership Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 25, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Understanding what makes a strong leader can help you identify characteristics that define that individual's leadership potential. Those with the potential to lead can find success in the personal and professional lives. It is important to identify what constitutes leadership potential, especially when seeking to identify individuals who may have that potential and could become great leaders if given the opportunity. In this article, we will discuss leadership potential and measuring your own potential to lead others.

What is leadership potential?

Although it may seem subjective at first glance, leadership potential and the qualities that make a strong leader have a scientific basis. Certain personality characteristics are often present in great leaders, and some of those characteristics are further outlined in a review authored by professors at several universities. In this review, the researchers connected certain traits shared by some of the best leaders, such as:

  • Self-confidence

  • Dependability

  • Social skills

  • Adaptability

  • Drive

  • Integrity

  • Tolerance for stress

Based on the scientific backing and what we can see in people in powerful leadership positions, identifying leadership potential involves looking for certain characteristics in people. By determining whether others have that potential, you may be able to identify future leaders in your company or even identify your own potential to lead in the future.

Related: 6 Key Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

What are the components of leadership potential?

As mentioned, certain personality traits tend to make better leaders. Those who are confident in themselves and their decision-making abilities are able to lead with strength and determination. A good leader must be dependable so that others can count on them to do what they say they will do and show up when they need to be there. Good social skills are important for leaders because they interact with various people, including their subordinates, and must be able to interact positively with them.

Leaders often have to adapt to changing situations and make quick decisions. They also need to have a personal drive to do the best work they can and provide a positive environment for those around them. Integrity instills trust in strong leaders, while a tolerance for stress ensures that a leader can handle difficult situations without becoming overwhelmed.

In addition to the important personality characteristics, a strong leader must also understand their role and adapt accordingly. Some of the key development aspects of leading a team include looking for leadership potential in others, identifying your personal leadership style and adapting it based on the needs of the team members and knowing how to plan for successive leaders.

Related: 10 Effective Leadership Skills to Lead a Team

How can you measure your leadership potential?

If you have an interest in leading others, you may wonder whether you have leadership potential. Consider what your strongest personality traits are and whether any of them align with those outlined in the scientific study mentioned above. If you enjoy interacting with others in social situations, even people you do not know very well, your social skills might help you advance in your professional life. Feeling driven to do your best work is another common trait among the best leaders.

You can also consider some of the best leaders you have interacted with in your personal and professional life and identify some of the aspects of their leadership that you appreciate and value. Every leader has their own unique style, so looking at the characteristics that appeal to you might help you determine your own potential to lead.

Related: How To Develop Leadership Skills and Become a Great Manager

Tips for demonstrating your leadership potential at work

Now that you better understand leadership potential and what it looks like, you can take steps to demonstrate your own potential in your workplace. Great leaders look for that potential in their subordinates, so showcasing your skills and traits that make you a good leader can help you stand out in their minds when they are considering who might be a good fit for a promotion.

Take ownership

Taking ownership of your role and finding solutions to challenges can help you stand out and demonstrate your leadership potential. Whether you are trying to solve a tricky problem or working through personnel issues with co-workers, work on taking ownership and finding your own solution, rather than asking your supervisor to solve it for you.

Look at the business and its overall success

Good leaders often look at the big picture, rather than focusing on the smaller details. By shifting your mindset in this way, you can set goals that benefit the company overall, and your leaders will likely notice that shift.

Showcase your drive

Showing that you are driven to succeed can also help you stand out among employees who simply show up and do their tasks but do not have a strong desire to grow the company or solve problems. Your personal drive will help you get ahead, especially if you want to become a leader.

Stay engaged

In a world full of distractions, it can be easy to lose focus and disengage from your job. Remaining engaged is an important trait of someone with leadership potential, because good leaders must stay engaged in their tasks and their role.

Be willing to listen

Leaders often have to listen to others as they share their ideas and concerns. Even before you move into a leadership role, you can demonstrate your listening skills by knowing when to listen, rather than share your own ideas. It is important to show your self-awareness that you can learn from others by listening and taking in information.

Related: How to Be a Leader

Contribute to a positive work environment

When you want to show that you would be good at leading others, you can start at any level in your professional life. Stay professional when interacting with co-workers, be supportive to those around you and avoid getting involved in situations that could impact your ability to remain professional. Be courteous and respectful to everyone with whom you interact to show your ability to contribute to a positive atmosphere.

Offer to take on new tasks

A leader often must take on various roles and juggle different tasks at the same time. Showcase your willingness to grow in your role and support the team by taking new tasks and improving your skills.

Continue to learn

Learning does not stop when you complete the degree you have been working on or pass a course. Continuing to learn and grow helps you become a better leader, so look for development opportunities and seize any chance to learn.

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