15 Assessment Questions for Potential Leaders

You know who they are: the young talents everyone eyes as executive material.

But sometimes these high-potential stars derail on their way to the top. “If they have strong results, but they sacrifice team members or the bigger picture, or are too self-serving, they would no longer be considered high-potential,” is what one executive told Jim Bolt in Fast Company.

Expert David Peterson, speaking in Talent Management magazine, concurs: “Someone who is hard-charging, smart and aggressive, is much more likely to get great results, but if they don’t learn to temper that to include other people, to get buy-in, to build alignment with other folks, they may alienate people or cause additional friction down the road.”

Okay — so how can you anticipate and prevent derailment in your leadership-development pipeline? Spencer Stuart, the global executive search consulting firm, compiled a list of 15 questions to judge leadership potential outside the realm of individual performance:

Leaving the comfort zone

1. Do I trust this person’s judgment in complex, ambiguous situations?

2. Has their decision-making been tested when leading a team outside of their area of expertise and in situations of great complexity and ambiguity?

Emotional intelligence and political savvy

3. How effectively does the executive read and respond to interpersonal dynamics in sensitive, high-stakes and complex situations?

4. Does the individual understand the power of his or her words and actions on others and quickly create alignment among stakeholders with divergent interests?

5. Can he or she successfully navigate politicized situations where personal relationships and a cooperative style are not sufficient?

Motivating and monitoring others

6. Does this person have a track record of building high-performing teams?

7. Is he or she willing to hold people accountable when they fail to meet objectives?

8. Does this person create an environment where people feel motivated to contribute, while also holding others to high standards?

Humility and flexibility

9. Does the individual show the mental flexibility to quickly evolve their thinking based on others’ inputs?

10. How does he or she react to feedback or criticism of their ideas?

11. Does he or she really listen to substantive input from people who know? Does he or she seek it out?

Molding others

12. Is talent development a priority for this executive? How has he or she demonstrated that it is a priority?

13. Are there a number of individuals in the organization whose careers have been shaped through their relationship with this executive?

Big-picture visions and leading through change

14. What are this person’s strengths? Does he or she come up with the big ideas? Are they most skilled at executing an idea from elsewhere?

15. In past situations of change, what was the individual’s role in developing the vision, influencing and motivating others to embrace the idea, and driving to a result?

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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