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Identifying potential leaders

“I shall not exist, but the work that I started should go on.” That’s what a business tycoon once said. Now, for that work to “go on”, a lot needs to be done, and that too, before we become non-existent.

Great leaders, as they slowly age towards retirement, always focus on the creation of next-generation of leaders. You should create your own photocopy to fill your position. If possible, someone even better than you.

That is what Chanakya says, “He (King) should strive to give training to the prince.” (5.6.39)

Leaders at the top should completely focus on developing potential leaders. Who is a leader and how to identify him is a challenge by itself. One will realise that a person successful in one area can be a failure in another. Or one who is a successful leader in a particular group may be a failure while leading another group for a different task.

But, before we start training and creating leadership programs, it is important to identify the right leaders. You need to ask a few questions that will tell you whether he will fit into the leadership framework.

Some of these have been listed below:

Question: Does he give credit to others when he is appreciated?

Objective: The answer will show if he is a team player. A good leader is a good captain. He takes his team along. He knows that human beings have weaknesses and still all have to work together to achieve the common goal of the organisation.

Question: Is he firm in his opinions, or does he change his viewpoint every now and then?

Objective: To understand if he has clarity in thinking, ask: Does he think through every step before taking up or executing a project? Does he get carried away by the politics in a company?

Question: How does he conduct meetings?

Objective: His planning skills—if he is good leader in meetings, he will have an agenda. He will be open to ideas, but will never let the meeting go astray.

Question: Does he command the respect and attention of his seniors?

Objective: To assess if he and his viewpoints will be accepted by the top management as he takes up higher responsibilities—only a thinking and strategic person will be accepted by seniors.

Question: Given a challenge—how fast does he complete a task?

Objective: To understand his resource-management skills: how fast is he in getting things in place? A potential leader will not get stuck with the current problems. He will be a solution-provider, rather than a problem creator.

Most importantly, you should be involved in the process of creating future leaders. After all, it is the question of handing over a company you created with your sweat and blood.

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