Magazine article Personnel Journal

Judging Leadership Potential Effectively

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Judging Leadership Potential Effectively

Article excerpt

Jim Kouzes, co-author of "The Leadership Potential" and chairman and chief executive officer of TPG Learning Systems, a division of Palo Alto, California-based The Tom Peters Group, says:

Leadership potential is definitely measurable. Five characteristics can be measured to determine whether a person is a good leader. I call them the Leadership Potential Inventory (LPI). If a person: challenges the [daily office] process, inspires a shared vision, enables others to act, models the way and encourages the heart [of fellow employees], he or she possesses the characteristics necessary to be a leader. Over the years we've studied people society calls leaders, and we haven't found any significant change in the qualities people expect leaders to possess. All the people we've studied have the five LPI characteristics.

I'm not saying that being a leader means being perfect-we all have room for improvement. No one has received a perfect score on the LPI. But that's how people differ in their leadership potential. We define leadership behaviorally. If you can't see the potential in a person, then you can't select him or her to be a leader.

Until we can define leadership behaviorally, we can't assess it. I admit, it's hard to find good candidates to be leader. But a good first step is to look at a person's behaviors. The reason people have so much trouble choosing good leaders is because they don't know what qualities to look for or how to assess the potential. I expect a leader to step out from the rest, to be a team-builder and to work ahead. The best leaders also set examples, encourage others, have long-term visions and a way to reach them.

Although many believe leadership is for a small group of people, they're wrong. Leadership is everyone's business. It's not just the practice of a few charismatic people who have special leadership genes. And you don't need to have a large budget or hold a high office to be a leader.

Leadership potential is in all of us--but to know who will actually use that potential requires you first see the potential, then measure it.

Louis N. Quast, vice president of training and development at Minneapolis-based Personnel Decisions Inc., replies:

If we think about what leadership is, we can say that it's a form of applied influence. …

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