Identifying emerging leaders in your workplace is essential for the growth and success of your organisation. With the right approach and a keen eye, you can pinpoint team members who have the potential to become strong leaders and pave the way for the successful future of your company.

In this article, we’ll share some tips on how to identify motivated and insightful employees with leadership potential within your business.


Key Takeaways

  • An emerging leader should possess a strong work ethic, effective communication skills, resourcefulness, insight, and accountability.
  • Look for individuals who take initiative, drive results, and make strategic data-driven decisions.
  • Potential leaders should be emotionally intelligent and willing to professionally support those around them.
  • Investing in corporate leadership training can help you identify potential leaders and provide a smooth transition during the succession planning process.


Characteristics of an emerging leader

Woman in peach shirt with long dark hair

An emerging leader is an individual who shows the potential to take on leadership roles in their career. These professionals possess several capabilities and characteristics that set them apart from their peers. They have a strong work ethic and are committed to achieving their goals.

In addition, they’re skilled at communication, conveying their astute thoughts and ideas with effectiveness. Potential managers and leaders should be proactive and resourceful, open to learning new skills and approaches.

The right person will take initiative in their work, often seeking out new experiences and opportunities for knowledge and leadership development. They’re team players, committed to collaboration and contributing to the success of the business and everyone within it. They take accountability for their responsibilities and listen to feedback after each experience.

Above all else, emerging leaders demonstrate a combination of personal qualities, skills, and abilities that make each of them stand out as a shining example of your company’s values and strengths.


1. Look for individuals who take initiative and drive results

Any competent leader should have the ability to take the initiative and drive results. These individuals are not content to simply follow the status quo; they’re dedicated to looking for innovative ways to improve processes. They’re also proactive in identifying problems and coming up with creative solutions, often taking the lead in implementing changes that benefit staff, clients, and other stakeholders.

Ask yourself: have they been able to deliver on their promises and maintain a sharp performance streak within their role? Are they willing to try new approaches, make important decisions, and exceed expectations in the process? When looking for people who take the initiative and drive results, it’s important to consider their track record of success.


2. Take note of their interpersonal skills

Strong communication and relationship-building skills are essential for effective leadership. They allow people in leadership positions to work with others, bring motivation to the work environment, and influence others toward a shared goal.

Do they show empathy and support for their colleagues? Are they willing to take on every opportunity to be a team player and build positive professional relationships? Look for individuals who are able to communicate clearly, with empathy and confidence, both verbally and in writing. They should be able to articulate their ideas in a way that’s easily understood by others, including coworkers, clients, and other leaders.


3. Assess your employee’s adaptability and emotional intelligence

Two important leadership qualities are adaptability and emotional intelligence. Adaptability refers to an employee’s ability to adjust to change, new situations, and challenges in the workplace. Being emotionally intelligent refers to the individual’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions in an urbane manner.

Are they able to work well with other employees, resolve conflicts with discerning insights, and bring new perspectives to projects? The right person for the leadership position is able to learn quickly and is not easily discouraged by a challenge or setback.


4. Look for signs of strategic thinking

Candidates for the leadership role should have a long-term vision for the business and be able to identify opportunities and challenges that may arise in the future. They’re skilled at analysing data and making insightful decisions that align with their company’s goals and values.

When looking for signs of strategic thinking and leadership skills, it’s important to consider how employees approach problem-solving. Do they consider everything — all of the project elements and research and market trends — before making a decision? Are they perceptive and able to identify patterns that may impact the company? The right manager will understand the purpose and value of their work, both on an individual and business-wide level.


5. Evaluate an individual’s ability to effectively coach others

Being able to effectively mentor, support, and coach others is an essential skill for emerging leaders in the workforce.  These individuals should be skilled at providing constructive feedback, setting goals, and providing support, encouragement, and resources for development along the way.

When evaluating your team members, pay attention to their conversations with others. Do they actively listen and provide feedback in a constructive, respectful, and sophisticated manner? Are they able to motivate and inspire their colleagues to achieve their goals? A knowledgeable and experienced team leader should take pride in their responsibility and see the benefits of helping others.


6. Consider their ability to problem solve

Problem-solving is another critical skill. Potential leaders can identify complex problems, break them down into manageable tasks, and develop resourceful solutions. Evaluate their critical thinking skills and ability to handle weaknesses and mistakes in a professional place.

Do they take a structured and shrewd approach? Are they able to consider multiple concepts, tools, and pieces of technology, and evaluate their potential impact on projects? The right person for the job has a keen sense for making decisions that serve the business’s mission and values.


7. Invest in corporate training

When succession planning, an effective way of identifying emerging leaders within your company is through a leaders program. Investing in these type of corporate training programs can provide opportunities for employees to develop their skills, gain new experiences, and showcase their potential.

You can take note of standout team members; these individuals should demonstrate a strong work ethic and a desire to improve themselves and the business. Investing in your employees and their professional development not only helps them grow as individuals, but also benefits the company by fostering a culture of innovation and improvement.


Identifying emerging leaders within your organisation is critical for long-term success. These employees possess a unique set of skills and traits, willing to put in the effort and create an innovative plan for any project or problem. By recognising employees who exhibit these qualities, you can begin to mentor these potential leaders and prepare them for a promotion to the management level and beyond.


Need help training your future managers?

Interested in corporate training for your staff? For the last 40 years, Priority Management has trained professionals in a broad range of industries to progress in their careers and take on leadership roles. Our communication and leadership skills courses prepare any employee to become a proactive, insightful, and resourceful manager.

We tailor our training courses to your company’s needs, goals, and processes. If you have any questions, or you’re looking for more information, get in touch with us today!