How do you identify and develop leaders from young professionals

develop leaders from young professionals

Behind every successful company are a team of good leaders. That might not be exactly how the quote goes, but you get my point. Good leaders make good decisions that make companies successful. And any company that hopes to be around long-term needs to think about the succession of leaders. With the cost of developing your employees being cheaper than hiring from the outside, it has become more pertinent to look for leaders within your company.

The question is can you identify potential leaders? Do you know what to look for? Once you’ve identified them, do you know what they need to grow? If these are questions flying around your head, you’ve come to the right place. This article will take you through a few ways to help you identify and develop talented young professionals. It is not an exhaustive list. To know more, you could consider these online management courses from Great Learning to help you hunt for young leaders or become leadership material yourself.


Leadership programs

As mentioned earlier, it is cheaper to develop leaders from within your organization rather than hire from outside. Developing leadership programs is not just a means of growing your leaders but is also a good way to identify and evaluate your leaders of tomorrow.

Potential not performance

Performance is a good way of knowing if a person has the capability and expertise for a role, but leadership has to do with so much more. Does your young professional have a desire to learn, the aptitude to grow, a desire to coach others, the talent to cast a vision, the skill to communicate well, and the ability to influence? You need to look beyond performance. While some of your employees might rank high in terms of performance, you might recognize that they aren’t cut out to be leaders.

Emotional intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent is an underrated but extremely important skill for a potential young leader. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a person’s ability to understand and reason with emotions. People with a high EQ make for not just great team players but also excellent team leaders. It is a soft skill that enables people to be self-aware to see their faults and have the humility to remedy them. They can better assess situations and get to the underlying problems. They don’t play the victim card, and they don’t allow negative emotions to influence their decision-making. They can communicate and express themselves clearly without taking offense easily. As you can tell, people with a high EQ can be reliable and empathetic leaders.

Predictive assessment tool

All too often, leaders pick those who are just like themselves. To remove these inclinations, you might want to consider using a predictive assessment tool. It isn’t a magic hat that picks out the best leaders, and it’s your responsibility first to decide what success looks like in each leadership position and which skills are needed to get the job done. Then choose an assessment that can best identify these potential leaders. It is best to use individual questionnaires, assessments, and simulations to give a realistic picture of how a potential leader would act in certain situations.


Leaders aren’t born but are nurtured. Suppose you have been able to identify these young professionals who can make exceptional leaders work towards their development to become so in the future. They need opportunities to grow as well as adequate support along their journey. Here are a few ideas to prepare them for future leadership.

Goal setting

As young professionals take on leadership positions, their responsibilities can overwhelm them at times. Goal setting can help these young leaders stay focused on the organizational goals and their own, and it will help them understand what they need to prioritize when. One excellent tool that can guide every leader to set goals is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound).

Leadership meetings

Many times, when a young professional is offered a leadership position, it seems like they’re being thrown to the wolves. They just aren’t being adequately trained or prepared. A way to remedy this is to open up a few leadership meetings for them to attend. It will help them learn in real-time from the example of other leaders, and they will begin to understand the challenges that leaders face.

Constructive feedback

Most young professionals who desire leadership positions want feedback, and this can be done regularly, informally, and positively. Make sure you encourage them when they’ve done well to make sure they understand what good behavior or success is. Don’t back away from giving critical and direct feedback. Being direct and polite is better than being vague, as your comments can be misconstrued. Make sure you also talk about your core work values and encourage them to evaluate and explore their own. It helps to create a connection between what they do and what they believe.

Different roles and positions

It is important to find ways to challenge and stretch your potential leaders. Make it a point to put them in roles that are unfamiliar to them. Give them new responsibilities so that they can become aware of their skills and can broaden their know-how. Your company can also create junior leadership roles, and it will only help build up their confidence. They are also more likely to stay with your company as it could be of huge value to their career.

As communicating well is an important leadership skill, give these potential leaders a chance to speak up. It could be in a general meeting where you give them the floor to share their ideas or expertise. With encouragement and coaching, they will in no time become naturally comfortable at articulating their thoughts.

There are many leadership opportunities in today’s world but a shortage of young leaders. If you are a young professional desiring to grow in leadership, you can get yourself leadership training from great learning to help you develop your leadership skills. The first step toward growing as a leader is becoming aware of your unique leadership qualities and how you can hone them.

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