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Leadership Development

8 Characteristics of Emerging Leaders

Characteristics of Emerging Leaders


Identify Emerging Leaders at Every Level to Develop Your Pipeline

Emerging leaders are present at every level and age at your organization. But knowing how to identify them and ensure they develop appropriately can be a complicated question.

Emerging leaders desire the opportunity to better themselves and respect when their organization allows them to do so. By helping them accomplish their goals, emerging leaders will see the value and long-term growth opportunities available at your organization. See who you should be keeping your eye on with our quick checklist for identifying the key characteristics of emerging leaders.

How to identify emerging leaders

  • High performance: Potential leaders are not just capable of fulfilling their current role, they go above and beyond to deliver results that matter to the organization’s success.
  • Tip: Engage these leaders early on using recognition, feedback, and a relationship with a mentor.
  • High potential: Seeking out extra responsibilities or new skills is a sign that an employee could someday belong in a leadership role.
  • Tip: Help these leaders grow by ensuring they have a stretch goal to push them past the responsibilities of their current role.
  • Influence: If an employee is a natural, he or she will inspire others to follow him or her regardless of title or role.
  • Tip: Influence comes in different forms. It doesn’t mean popularity, or always speaking their mind. Seek out the leader who others turn to when they have questions.
  • Supervision: Those who currently supervise others may have the capabilities needed to be a leader one day and are already practicing some of those skills.
  • Tip: Not all supervisors are leaders, but employees who like and respect their supervisor point toward someone who can engage others and lead toward business success.
  • Values: Not only are their values aligned with the organization's, potential future leaders are aware of and committed to their values.
  • Tip: Listen when leaders discuss their reasons for their solutions to problems and see how that aligns with business goals and company values.
  • Optimism: A future leader faces the world with optimism, prepared to work for the better future that he or she envisions.
  • Tip: Pay careful attention to how potential leaders react when faced with challenges; a positive, ready to get to work attitude shows promise that a future leader is resilient.
  • Inspiration: Emerging leaders encourage others to grow and often have others who follow them.
  • Tip: Notice how these leaders not only seek personal growth, but also invest in those around them and push others to achieve their goals.
  • Desire: The most critical aspect of emerging leaders is their desire to lead; this desire will push them to accept new roles, challenge the status quo, and accept experiences meant to guide them toward leadership in the future.
  • Tip: Ask a potential leader what his or her goals are: Does he or she wish to lead some day? Does he or she plan to stay at the company and grow into a new role?

These skills and behaviors can point you in the direction of leaders who have the potential to take your organization new places. When you notice a future leader, it’s crucial to engage him or her in development early on to allow opportunities to grow. 

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Photo by Linh Pham on Unsplash

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Bill Mugavin

Bill Mugavin is a Senior Leadership Development Consultant at FlashPoint. He has worked with top-tier Fortune 1000 global organizations to improve leadership and management effectiveness.