Who Should Lead?

For the last 3 years, I’ve been researching the question of what is it that shows someone is suitable for a leadership position? With over 500 people participating in the survey, you can imagine a long list of attributes have been identified. And they have. But while that’s true, the results are much simpler, and (perhaps) more surprising than you would think.

So, who should lead? Wouldn’t it make sense that education, training, work experience, personal competence, and a demonstrated ability to do the work should be the number #1 criteria? (That would make sense, because it’s how people are normally hired, evaluated, promoted, paid, and recognized.) Right?

Well, this survey shows that those things aren’t what’s most important. (Emphasis “most” important.) And the data show it isn’t even all that close in terms of the type of leader that’s most desired.

Who’s the most suitable leader?

It’s those who “Relate Well with Others.”

By far and away, these are the people who are deemed to be the best. Simply put, they have people skills. Technical skills are important, but insufficient.

Suitability is judged by both the beliefs people hold of them (basically how they “come across” to others and are perceived), as well as, by the quality of the personal interactions people have experienced with them. Put together, these relationship measures (feelings) explain who’s attractive as a leader, and who isn’t.

Those considered to be the most fit for leadership are seen as understanding – having empathy for others; demonstrated by being good listeners, approachable, open, flexible, and sincerely caring. They are known to invest effort into teaching, mentoring, guiding, communicating, motivating, inspiring, and serving others.

One’s suitability is also evident by their willingness to step up; showing initiative and taking action. They are respectful of others, confident, poised, and have a positive view/attitude. High standards of personal character are not only desired in leaders, but integrity is admired and valued.

What’s obvious is that suitability begins with “person”ability. And that’s who we want leading us.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom. For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published. This article is based on research conducted for ‘The Suitability for Leadership Survey,’ by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find short insights on Twitter at #SuitabilitySurvey

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