a group of emerging leaders

Companies are finding that one of their greatest concerns in today’s work environment is identifying the right leaders to carry their organizations into the future. As a result, emerging leadership development has become a key priority for many companies.

Finding emerging leaders can be a challenge. This is especially true since there have been some changes in how a good leader is defined.

“Emerging leadership” is one of the current theories being used when it comes to selecting good candidates for future leadership development.

What is an Emerging Leader?

An emerging leader is someone who naturally shows budding qualities of strong leadership.

Emerging leaders are often fairly young, though that is not always the case. That said, those who receive leadership training will usually have been “emerging” leaders for some time.

This means that many companies wait longer than is probably necessary before giving strong leadership candidates the training they need to progress. Emerging leaders will show the qualities of a good leader from very early on in their careers, and they can become a strong influence in the company far more quickly than one might think.

It’s important to note that someone can be an emerging leader without necessarily holding any current leadership roles. A manager or supervisor may have authority over people, but that doesn’t make them an emerging leader. Likewise, someone who has no title could very well be an emerging leader. It all depends on how they influence those around them.

Emerging Leadership Qualities

An emerging leader will exhibit various qualities, which are easiest seen in an informal group setting. This is because they all involve how the person interacts with others.

Awareness of Others

One of the core qualities of an emerging leader is situational awareness, particularly with respect to other people. They will tend to engage with others at any given moment, and they will do so with confidence.

This isn’t simply a tendency to be talkative. Emerging leaders are genuinely empathetic listeners, and people will generally regard them as respectful and competent.

Tendency to Build Others

Their awareness of others will result in emerging leaders naturally building up those around them. Rather than keeping their talents to themselves, they’ll share and help others develop into competent leaders themselves.

Consistently Providing Input

When working in groups with others, emerging leaders tend to contribute their ideas more consistently than others. This outspoken behavior will lead others to regard them as a competent leader. As they add to the discussion, others will tend to follow.

This is more than simply dominating the conversation—it involves a real contribution to the discussion. Because of their presence, problem-solving, brainstorming, and similar activities will be given some direction.

Strong Character

Perhaps part of what makes an emerging leader so outspoken is their strength of character.

An emerging leader has their own set of core values that they hold to regardless of opposition. If you notice someone who consistently keeps to certain codes of conduct, they may be emerging leadership material.

How to Find Emerging Leaders

Knowing the main attributes of an emerging leader is the first step to identifying them in your organization. Observation is key.

When considering someone for emerging leadership training, take into account the following questions:

  • Do people seem to respect this person?
  • Does the individual influence others in informal ways?
  • How frequently does the person share his or her input in group settings?
  • How often do people actually listen to the person’s input?
  • Does the person go out of his or her way to talk to others or make them feel included?

It’s worthwhile to use group activities during employee training meetings. Not only do these help develop employees as a whole, but they will give you an excellent opportunity to see which individuals naturally stand out as leaders.

In addition, surveying the person’s coworkers can be a useful exercise. This allows you to sense how people regard the individual and determine whether they could be an emerging leader.

Some Caveats to Finding Emerging Leaders

There are a few items to be aware of when finding emerging leaders.

The first is that while a strong personality and awareness of others can denote a great deal of potential, it does not mean they are fully ready to take on a leadership role.

For instance, in a group setting, one person may stand out as a natural leader if others regard them as competent. However, that perceived competence is not always the same as actual ability. They may be able to direct others, but that doesn’t mean they’ll lead them in the right direction.

Skillful mentoring is still a necessary component in building that person into a capable leader.

Also, it’s worth noting that competence in a current position does not necessarily denote an emerging leader.

There are many people who excel in terms of sales or productivity, but that doesn’t make them leadership material. Often, when these people are placed in a leadership role, their progress ends since they lack the actual leadership skills required to succeed.

Emerging Leadership Training & Support

The raw personality of an emerging leader definitely makes him/her a strong candidate for leadership positions, but support and training are needed.

Typically, there’s no reason for delaying this training—the sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll have a qualified leader to help carry the company forward.

Assessment of the individual’s competencies is a good starting point. It’s important to know where they stand in terms of the following:

  • Goal setting
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Performance management
  • Negotiation skills

Coaching from higher-ups in your company is highly beneficial. This shows an emerging leader what they need to improve in order to be a more effective asset to the company. They’ll be able to align themselves with sound leadership practices and develop in their career.

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To learn more about leadership development, contact Edge Training at 800-305-2025.