Building a team of engaged employees is every business leader’s goal. Research and common sense have both showed that as the number of engaged workers increases, so does morale, productivity, customer satisfaction, and profits. But, beyond just being good for business right now, these top-performing employees are also your company’s next generation of leaders.
With the future of your business depending on these individuals, it’s even more important that you know and can recognize the characteristics of engaged employees. And, while there are many qualities that make up a good leader, here are the top five to watch for.
Leadership requires responsibility, and responsibility is synonymous with accountability. In a recent article on identifying tomorrow’s leaders, Fast Company pointed out that “if you see individuals shying away from taking responsibility for their actions because it might reflect poorly on them, then they aren’t leader material. Leaders aren’t afraid to hold themselves accountable for failure.” So keep an eye out for those employees who don’t shy away from stepping up to the plate and taking the heat when something doesn’t go as planned.
More than anything else, great employees and great leaders have to be able to communicate. But, that doesn’t just mean that someone talks a lot. Communication also involves listening, watching, engaging, and responding. For instance, Inc.’s article on how to spot potential leaders highlights that “managers look at screens; leaders engage with people.” True leaders will look at people, listen to them, talk to them, and focus on them, instead of being glued to their laptops or smart phones.
No matter how good a leader is, eventually a crisis will happen, and what’s most telling is how the person handles the crisis. So watch employees when projects don’t go as expected or set-backs occur. The ones who stay calm and keep pushing forward have an important leadership quality. Forbes identified the quality of confident composure as one of the most important for leaders to possess because it’s a leader’s role “to put out fires and maintain the team morale … the key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead.”
There are some aspects of leadership that a person can learn, while others seem to just come naturally. And, intuition is one of those qualities that often is more innate. Time and experience can certainly hone in a person’s ability to accurately go with their gut, but, as Forbes underscores, “when leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in.” Employees who have this ability to trust themselves and make the right calls in tough situations are invaluable to their companies.
The most effective employees, and leaders, are those who are respected by their staff, peers, and superiors. Often, you can pick them out by watching to see who people go to for help with problems, a listening ear, or a good dose of motivation. As author and former CEO of five companies Robert Vanourek said in a Fast Company article, “People who are sought out by others for their advice and insight deserve a close look under the leadership lens.” The best future leaders won’t hesitate to help others, look for the best solutions, and spread inspiration, and those are all actions you can easily watch for.
Hiring and retaining employees with these desirable qualities will not only positively impact your company right now; it will also help ensure the success of your business well into the future. You just have to know what to look for so you can spot the engaged employees who will eventually become the leaders of tomorrow.