Leadership

Video: Five signs to look for when identifying future leaders

To ensure that your IT organization remains vital, you need to identify individuals who show leadership potential and help them step into that role when they're ready. This episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives shares five of the traits to look for in future leaders.

To ensure that your IT organization remains vital, you need to identify individuals who show leadership potential and help them step into that role when they're ready. But what do future leaders look like? This episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives shares five of the traits to look for.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the "Transcript" link underneath the video or you can read the original article from Erik Eckel that this episode was based on: 10 early signs that someone will make a great leader.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks.

22 comments
Steve Romero
Steve Romero

You did not list "passion" as a sign of a great leader. I looked at the full list of 10 signs and did not find it there either. I think the best leaders are passionate about what they do, and in what they believe. This passion inspires and energizes others, especially when combined with the other 10 signs. Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

Guitockey
Guitockey

I agree with the list, with a couple of caveats. The positive energetic leader should have his (meant in the gender-neutral sense) energy focused. An enthusiastic leader who has a bad sense of direction will drive an organization off a cliff, energetically. Another trait that is vital in a good leader is an understanding of the role of authority. Authority should be used to serve, not to be served. This requires some humility, which goes along with number three on the list. This attitude of authoritative service should be applied to subordinates, customers, and superiors. One more is that a good leader has to be able to do what is right, even under pressure to do what's wrong or if his actions will make him unpopular. That sense of right and wrong has to be objective, the leader can't set his own definitions of morality or it's totalitarianism.

robertcevans23
robertcevans23

Unfortunately too many of those who should be looking to grow leadership skills in their company are actually looking for and weeding out threats to their own jobs. Why should "Peter Principled" managers promote from within? Think about it, where do you find the bright and promising future executive today? Future leaders are often on the unemployment line, and show lots of job hops on their resumes. I personally have worked in several multi-billion dollar companies that were run by nepotism and the "good-old-boy" network. No room for the star or cream to rise in these organizations, unless they are first and foremost connected. What with CEO's blessed by their inner-circle boards to take huge parachutes? What I look forward to would be a great white-paper for an investigative news team to take on was how that CEO or CFO actually got their jobs, and what actually went on in the boardrooms of America. I truly wonder how American businesses survive in the world economy with this way too prevalent leadership cadre.

Been_there
Been_there

Interesting video. Having working in the financial services industry in both line of business and IT for over 30 years (FTE and contractor), most ?leaders? were managers and the majority of those were totally incompetent. ?Leaders? inspire teams and set direction, vision. ?Managers? execute the direction and are mostly ?bean counters.? I can only cite 4 or 5 real ?leaders,? those that inspired their teams and for whom teams would really exceed expectations. Those were these exceptions. Most ?managers? I have dealt with achieved their positions through attrition (survival), political skills or were the ?wonder-boy incarnation? of the latest management fad and were totally incompetent. Further, a good leader in today?s business climate cannot remove the unproductive ?members? that prevent performance excellence. The greatest indicator here is that the people who really need to hear this video don?t have a clue and know that they need to listen.

klion2000
klion2000

This is simple, but is not easy...

glostah
glostah

"A good leader has to be able to do what is right, even under pressure to do what's wrong or if his actions will make him unpopular." I live by that and it has cost me on a few occasions, but at least I can sleep at night...

robertlbagwell
robertlbagwell

Good points again robertc. Do take a closer look at what you're calling survival. If you define survival as going offshore, anorexic downsizing and being acquired to remove competiton, the survival rate doesn't look so bad. Just remember these changes are ongoing and tend to accelerate once b egun.

robertlbagwell
robertlbagwell

Agreed and seconded (robertc 5/7 7:20) Now consider the case of a Wilmington, Delaware based Global, Chemical/Technology Company. At their mfg. site with 300 fulltime employees, a period of over ten years passed with NO (0.00) performance appraisals of any description for any employee at any level. Concurrently compensation, raises, bonuses, terminations, etc. arrived with what seemed to be normal regularity. Does this imply that there is no connection? All I can say is "well Duh!"

yonman
yonman

In my experiences, its not cream that rises to the top. It's more like scum that rises to the top.

Gh0stMaker
Gh0stMaker

"Unfortunately too many of those who should be looking to grow leadership skills in their company are actually looking for and weeding out threats to their own jobs" This can be very true in many organizations. The thinker is the 1 who get ousted as a threat in not all, but most cases.

murrays99
murrays99

If it were easy, anyone could do it. The sign of a great leader is the ability and wisdom to plan for the future. It is the most difficult task a leader faces.... who do you groom for your own job when you are ready to move on. It could take years of planning, coaching and grooming, and you always run the risk of the indivudal jumping ship. That is a risk one has to take. Doing nothing accomplishes nothing.

mousejn
mousejn

I just went to an AITP (Association of IT Professionals) meeting about managing outsourced projects. As part of the presentation was brought up that no one is hiring entry level programmers anymore. The skills you need to be a successful IT leader are no longer being developed locally. Where are all our future leaders going to come from? The programmers in India are not being used in a way that develops these skills sets.

evesneski
evesneski

This was a good video summarizing the high-level behaviors of a leader. Of course, these capabilities are not necessarily specific to IT but can be applied across all avenues of business leadership. If you remain a leader in an organization and fortify your position ultimately a cross road experience will occur. Either the organization will welcome you, coach, mentor and provide a career path or you'll experience quite the opposite where the leadership above you will recognize your value but not coach, mentor or provide a career path. At that time, as a leader, you have to make a difficult decision and look at yourself and the organizations culture. As noted previously most organizations espouse values, etc. but it is empty. Behind the closed door most leaders (as they like to call themselves) are not educated risk takers that are willing to put the time and effort into coaching or mentoring because it takes work, risk, effort and ultimately humility. Most leaders are not genuine and have alterior motives which is very sad. Know yourself, know the organizations culture and determine if that is the right place when focusing on leadership, accountability and succession planning. Most of the time popularity wins and is sponsored, not effort, professionalism or being ethical but rather the popular one who has more friends than any deliverable or success at an organization over their career.

nberigan
nberigan

I think that, in our culture, there is a tendency to promote followers. But that alone is certainly not enough reason to consider being one.

btodish
btodish

When someone tries to be an honest humanitarian motivator all the "Leaders" who have a personal agenda ie they want power, prestige, fame for themselves and or for their limited identity role (ie their gender, their race, their religion, their particular focus "image group") gang up on him/her to demonize and villify them and place all kinds of obstacles in their way. This is due to their defensiveness which is eith conscious or subconscious. This happens even on-line where people who write the truth but address controversial issues have there writing become "dissapeared". I would like to see this issue addressed but when I try to locate information on this I am prevented from doing so for instance I am expecting this to be prevented from being seen on your blog. I hope I am wrong. Barbara Todish I am sure if this appears someone will say I, too, have an agenda, well I would like someone to say what my agenda is and I challenge anyone to try to make me defensive about it.

robertlbagwell
robertlbagwell

Excellent article. Nails those attributes which show probable future leaders. But who cares when there's little value for such an exercise? Having lived in the "leadership" environment of a global chemical manufacturing company for nearly thirty years I can report with confidence that lip service to such an altruistic notion is alive and well. But in reality that is not where the emphasis is applied. First, anyone idenitfied today will be gone in the future; gone to another employer, downsized or sidelined for other less noble reasons. Managers are selected as needed and many possess few leadership qualities. Many of the leadership attributes are nice. Nice leaders are deemed too weak to be effective. Let's revisit this article after we resuscitate our value systems.

Gh0stMaker
Gh0stMaker

If a leader is wishy washy in his own life, and doesn't stand on principles; how can he effectively be an asset for a company in a leadership role?

robertlbagwell
robertlbagwell

I'm encouraged that today's forum seems to have brought to the front a body of present day leaders who seem to either fit or at least comprehend the traits. I encourage all to take away something positive and hopeful and share with others of your kind.

robertcevans23
robertcevans23

It is easy, but is not being performed for the reasons it should be. I have watched corporations promote from the good old boy network time and time again, bypassing the true leaders in every way. Take a risk, share your ideas.... Go ahead, then tell me what happens. I've seen bosses steal others ideas as their own, and sell themselves up the ladder... I've seen those who take risks fail just once, and they get written up as wasting the company's time and money. In 1990 I participated in a big IT management presentation at American Express in NYC. This was to get the people to take risks, to invent things, to think outside the box. They spent tens of thousands of dollars on the speaker and the presentation and materials, not to mention the salary of those in the audience. When did it all fall into perspective? When a participant in the back of the room raised his hand and asked, " Risk taking inherently leads to an occasional failure. (The EVP agreed, then this gentleman continued) What is the point of us taking risks when the company culture is to reward only success and punish failure?" It will take a culture change, and management's undergoing massive psychological re-training that this type of activity should be rewarded. If you doubt what I say, just look at the performance review process going on in your company today. Does it support only success, or does it reward the occasional failure? I have yet to see one HR department support the growth that comes from failures. Invariably the raises and promotions are held back through the over-documentation of the sublime failure in a sea of successes. And I am using the definition of sublime: "Of high spiritual, moral, or intellectual worth." I noticed a long time ago the translation of Human Resources from Personnel Departments; in itself a lessening of the personalization businesses continue to bring to the humans that work there. Today's true leaders are gutsy enough to start their own companies. And smart enough to know how to play these rules.

btodish
btodish

We need to see that if popularity is based on an image of any identity, whether it is a cultural or social construct it is an illusion. Business needs to be authentically human if it is to be real.

btodish
btodish

Authentic values often make others uncomfortable because instead of being based on images of identity (like gender,race,religion, class, etc) they are based on humanity identity. If all businesses/leaders, etc. had a human mission based on hopefullness first then their profit mission could be enhanced by bringing in ALL human beings who could begin to be enhanced by products and services beyond their already achieved basic subsistence needs.

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