Promoting an employee to a leadership role is an important decision. But is that employee ready for it? How do their current skills and experience translate into management potential? Here are a few of the top signs that an employee is ready for leadership:
They manage themselves
Before an employee can manage other people, they must first demonstrate a proficiency for managing themselves. A key indicator that an employee is ready to manage other people is that they require increasingly little time to be managed. “Outstanding hourly team members are self-starters, customer-oriented, and goal-getters,” says Jim Sullivan, CEO of Sullivision.com.
They want to lead
Some people see taking on leadership roles as a natural progression of the job. Executive coach and author Anna Ranieri says you should ensure your employee is not just “going through the motions, and thinking that [they’ve] been at the organization a certain number of years so it’s time for a promotion.” An employee who doesn’t actually want leadership and the added responsibility that comes with it is not ready for the role.
They already manage unofficially
The employees best suited for a leadership role are the ones who already manage the team in an unofficial capacity. “Other team members tend to ask this associate the kinds of questions they’re afraid to ask real managers for fear of looking dumb or forgetful,” Sullivan says. The most natural leaders are the ones that already lead whether it’s part of the job description or not.
They get along with other employees
According to a Gallup report, about half of all employees leave their job to get away from their manager. A good leader has a gift for working with others, building positive relationships, and earning respect. They display empathy, strong communication skills, and help others. “When they help other team members and still accomplish their own job, that's the definition of a good manager,” says Joshua Lee, CEO of Wirefox.
They value learning and goals
Good managers are always learning and on the lookout for things to learn, such as new trends or technologies. They’re proactive about completing their tasks and take initiative in finding ways to improve processes for the benefit of the company. “They examine how the job they do might be done even better and then share what they’ve learned with others,” Sullivan says. Employees who set goals for themselves and meet them in innovative ways are well suited for taking on a leadership role.
Other people think they would be a good leader
If you are assessing an employee for a leadership position, ask around for second and third opinions. Ranieri recommends discussing the employee’s potential with fellow team leaders and other colleagues, or even asking the employee directly for references to people who have seen them display managerial skills. “This gives the individual time to seek out colleagues and remind them of examples [that speak to] his management potential,” Ranieri says. Pay attention to what the employee’s close associates have to say. After all, they are the ones most likely to be impacted by the employee’s promotion.
Promoting the wrong person to a leadership role can be a costly mistake. Before you give an employee managerial responsibilities, make sure they show all of the right signs of being ready for leadership.