15 Ways to Measure Leadership Potential

Al Schnur
by Al Schnur

Al has personally conducted more than 5,000 high-level evaluations during his career, and is particularly proud that more than 250,000 candidates have participated in assessment programs he designed. At present, Al focuses on C-level succession planning and assessment in support of CEOs, Boards and other high-level stakeholders.

Leaders don’t grow on trees like apples or oranges. It takes strategic planning to put a person in the place in your organization where they’ll take root and grow strong—and where you’ll be able to harvest their true potential.

But how do you correctly identify leadership potential every time? Here are 15 metrics we use—and you can too—in order to pinpoint whether or not someone has the complete leadership package.

1. Cognitive ability

Can your leadership candidate handle increasing levels of complexity in decision-making? Complex problems require more than simple thinking to arrive at an effective solution.

2. Thinking style

Leadership requires shifting from tactical short-term thinking to an ability to see the bigger picture. Does the person have a goal-oriented strategic focus where they anticipate and plan for what lies down the road?

3. Judgment

What is their capability for problem-solving and decision-making? Can they be trusted to make the right decisions for the organization?

4. Natural leadership potential

How does a person perform when called on to lead a team? Do they show a willingness to take charge? The type of influence they exert and their ability to shape perspectives in the group can be revealing.

5. Delegation

Moving beyond managing is an essential part of becoming a good leader. An effective one must learn to delegate responsibility, coach others in their roles and develop the people they take under their wing.

6. Motivation

Leaders find a way to gain competitive advantage and produce effective strategies to drive bottom line results – even when faced with challenges and obstacles.

7. Aspiration

True leaders will not be satisfied with staying in the same role. They look for ways to challenge themselves and move up the ladder.

8. Trust and authenticity

Credibility is the hallmark of an effective leader. It is built through acting with integrity and earning trust from teammates and subordinates.

9. Focus on others

Does this person look to support and build their team and the organization, or do personal goals come first?

10. Interpersonal skills

Working effectively with people from other teams and other departments is essential for piloting an entire organization filled with diverse personalities.

11. Comfort with exploration

How does this person approach the unknown? People with leadership potential often step outside their comfort zone to expand their perspective and drive innovation.

12. Courage

Leadership requires making tough decisions, solving problems and communicating unpopular messages. A leader must be able to deal with these situations and not give into pressure to make the wrong choices.

13. Openness to feedback

How does this person receive feedback? Leaders are aware of their flaws and support ongoing growth in their roles.

14. Emotional intelligence

Leaders must understand and consider the feelings of others in decision-making. They should also monitor their own emotions and behaviors, so they remain healthy and consistent.

15. Stress tolerance

Leadership is not a walk in the park. How does the person handle increasing pressures, obstacles and disappointments?

Summing up

Building a successful leadership pipeline starts with identifying individuals who possess natural leadership potential—the traits and capabilities to progress from one role to another, as well as the desire to do so.

Assessing and measuring for these 15 traits is a great way to do that.


Hire Talent
Al Schnur
by Al Schnur

The Surprising Cost of Turnover

A good hire is, as the saying goes, worth its weight in gold to your company’s bottom line. With this in mind, you may be tempted to let an average or below-average employee walk out the door and search for a better replacement. That sounds good in theory, but turnover can mean bad news for […]

Read More
Plan Succession
Keith Francoeur
by Keith Francoeur

Executive Assessment: 7 Tips for a Great Program, Part 1

Effective succession planning will always mitigate the risk of disruption or major turnover with your organization. One of the best ways to do that succession planning well? Implementing a robust executive assessment process. Good executive assessments measure job performance, leadership potential, natural skills and areas of strength and weakness—and they’ll give your organization a clear picture […]

Read More