Is your company struggling to find the right people? Recruiting the best talent has become one of the biggest challenges for modern companies, from HR professionals to hiring managers. But incredible talent might be closer to home than you thought. It’s just a matter of identifying the right high-potential professionals in your organization.

Succession planning may be a long-term investment, and the pressure is on to find the right people NOW. But, when you invest in nurturing the talent you have and promoting from within, you foster loyalty, employee satisfaction, and success now and in the future. When you develop people yourself, you know for sure they received top-notch training. You can also better leverage the professional and personal connections they’ve made with others across your organization and the industry.

So, how do you spot today’s future leaders and develop them for tomorrow?

1. Recognize high-potential employees

Some people will display leadership potential early on, so keep your eye on them. Those who exhibit the rare but valuable combination of empathic and inspirational personality traits and peak performance are most likely to excel as leaders when the time comes. There are certain criteria for leadership positions you can identify even for people in entry-level roles, including an aspiration for leadership, autonomy, flexibility, and the capacity for fast-paced work settings.

*Keep a close eye on people who are strong decision-makers, capable of supervising groups, meet goals and objectives swiftly, and show an entrepreneurial spirit.

2. Look out for traits shared by successful managers

People appreciate managers and co-workers who show their human side. This is especially true in today’s new world of work, where people value and prioritize fulfillment as much as they prioritize salary and benefits–or more.

So, what really makes a successful manager? Other than the standard list of leadership qualities, the ability to empathize and give people a sense of fulfillment tops the list. People who can empathize tend to be highly principled, with values and aspirations that go beyond a monthly paycheck or the walls of an office.

Empathetic managers excel at helping people feel fulfilled at work, motivating people to engage more, and developing their team’s professional skills. Great leaders know when to shift from manager to coach, depending on the circumstance. 

Emerging leaders have the same qualities and abilities. Have you spotted someone with these traits and talents? Talk to them about their professional growth. You may have identified an emerging leader. 

*Take notice of people with high emotional intelligence (EQ), clear communication skills, and persuasive abilities to motivate others using nothing but words of inspiration.

3. Offer professional development programs

More and more companies are offering professional development programs to new joiners to teach them skills that help them advance in their careers. These programs can include career-specific training or personal development activities like time management, computer software training, or conflict resolution. Besides helping set people’s career goals, development programs are an excellent way for companies to build meaningful relationships between current management and future leaders.

*Assess people’s strengths and weaknesses in these programs and use them as a tool to enhance collaboration between people across the company and increase people’s commitment to the organization.

The bottom line: Homegrown leadership is a win for everyone

Start a conversation about internal advancement. You might discover there are people on your teams who are interested in leveling up their skills and taking on leadership roles in the future. Let them know you’re open to helping them advance professionally. Provide them with the tools, training, and support to develop the skills and confidence they need to become great leaders.

Promoting from within cuts down on the sea of paperwork HR leaders need to wade through when onboarding new hires, eliminates recruitment costs, and takes a load off managers because there’s no need to onboard anyone. HR leaders and managers should always be on the lookout for people on their teams who genuinely care about their role, who are always up for helping teammates out, and who put their best foot forward every day.


Tali Sachs Hibob

From Tali Sachs

Tali has been writing since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading science fiction, lazing around with her cats, ballroom dancing, or building up the seasoning on her cast-iron skillet.