This is such a loaded question, and one could write a treatise on the subject. However, for the sake of simplicity, allow me to create a scenario to better drive home my point and support you in the question of “How do you know when it’s time to give someone a leadership role?”

Let’s assume this is a candidate that is already active in the organization. Let’s begin this process of finding out if someone is ready for a leadership role by asking yourself a handful of questions to see if you and the organization are ready to support the candidate.  

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What is the role written down in the form of a job description?
  • Is that job description clear?
  • Does this new job allow the potential new person an opportunity to be less than perfect?
  • Are you confident in the ability of the person who will be coming on board?
  • Will there be follow up training?
  • What is the target and how will the new person know if they are hitting, or not hitting, the target?

Since we have already identified that person is already in the organization, having a conversation (or two) with the current direct report is a must. Ask questions such as:

Questions to Ask the Direct Report

  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank this person’s work ethic?
  • Does the person finish projects on time?
  • How often do personal issues come up?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how does this person handle conflict? (ask for specifics)
  • On a scale of 1-10, is this person a team player?
  • What project did the person work on that most excited him/her?
  • What project did this person work on that caused frustration?
  • Which best describes this person, humble or arrogant?
  • Is this person hungry?
  • Is this person smart?
  • Have you ever seen this person act in humility? (ask for specifics)
  • Have you ever seen this person act arrogantly? (ask for specifics)
  • What do I need to know about this person?
  • Would you hire this person again?

Asking questions takes time, if you ask these questions it will take you about 30 minutes, however, request one hour to go through all the questions as you do not want to rush. 

Be all in, be present 

Be engaged when asking the questions and be ready to listen intently to what is being said. Pay attention to the body language and the tone of one’s voice as you wait for a response to your questions. You must be engaged in the conversation, so consider removing all distractions, including all electronic devices. 

These questions will better prepare you to meet with the potential candidate and allow your conversation with the candidate to be fluid. You will also be able to take a deeper dive on some of the questions you need clarification on, so take good notes.

So how do you know when it’s time to give someone a leadership role?

Here are 10 characteristics that I look for before promoting a candidate: 

  1. They are punctual. Show up on time.
  2. Faithful with what they already have. 
  3. They are able to submit to authority
  4. Gracious, not combative
  5. Self-starter
  6. People are already following them
  7. Good listener
  8. Takes responsibility for actions
  9. Cool under pressure
  10. They ask questions, not make statements 

Summing it up

This list is not exhaustive, there are other things that are important to me, however, it’s a list. It’s on paper. I know what I am looking for. Do you? Write it down. Create your own list of the characteristics you are looking for.

Be patient as you dialogue with the candidate’s direct report. Get clarity on questions that need more insight. Ask around. Who else in the organization can better help you to get a pulse on whether this person is the right fit? The candidate need not be perfect. Perhaps you are the person God will use to develop this person. That’s the beautiful thing about leadership, we get the privilege of coming alongside people and helping them to develop and become leaders. 

Pulling for you!

Charlie Moulton

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