Do Your Direct Reports Have Leadership Potential? 14 Signs They Do

Identifying leadership potential within your team is a crucial aspect of effective management and succession planning. According to a study by the Corporate Executive Board, organizations with strong leadership development practices outperform their competitors by up to 13 times in financial performance. Recognizing future leaders early allows for targeted development, ensuring a robust pipeline for your organization’s leadership succession.

As an executive leadership coach, I’ve identified key indicators that signal a direct report may be ready to take on leadership roles. Here are 14 signs to look for.

Proactive Problem Solving: Do they tackle challenges head-on? A potential leader doesn’t just identify problems but actively seeks solutions.

Effective Communication Skills: Can they articulate ideas clearly? Strong communication is vital for leadership, and those who can convey complex ideas simply are prime candidates.

Eagerness to Learn and Grow: Are they committed to self-improvement? A continuous desire for learning is a hallmark of great leaders.

Ability to Inspire and Motivate Others: Do they uplift the team? Those who naturally motivate others often have innate leadership qualities.

Demonstrates Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Can they understand and relate to others? Empathy is a key leadership skill, allowing for more effective team management.

Takes Ownership and Accountability: Do they own their successes and failures? Leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions.

Exhibits Strategic Thinking: Are they visionaries? The ability to think strategically and see the bigger picture is essential for leadership.

Shows Resilience in Adversity: How do they handle pressure? Leaders demonstrate resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Consistently Reliable and Dependable: Can you count on them consistently? Reliability is a critical trait that builds trust and respect.

Fosters Collaboration and Teamwork: Do they excel in team settings? Potential leaders are adept at collaboration, bringing people together towards a common goal.

Adapts to Change Effectively: Are they flexible and adaptable? The business world is dynamic, and leaders must navigate change successfully.

Exudes Confidence Without Arrogance: Do they display the right balance of confidence? Confidence is key, but it must be tempered with humility.

Strong Decision-Making Abilities: Can they make tough calls? Decisiveness is a critical skill for leaders, particularly in high-stakes situations.

Demonstrates Integrity and Ethical Behavior: Do they lead by example in terms of ethics? True leaders exhibit integrity in all their actions.

Spotting these traits in your direct reports can help identify those with the potential to lead. Investing in their development can yield significant benefits for your team and organization in the long run.

Lead From Within: Leadership potential often lies dormant, waiting to be recognized and nurtured. Spotting and cultivating this potential is a testament to your own leadership acumen.


#1 N A T I O N A L  B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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