6 key traits of future leaders

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Research has shown there are 6 key traits that will help you identify leaders of the future.

Conscientiousness – strong planning, goal-directed behaviour and discipline. Those with higher conscientiousness tend to be more internally motivated. While those with lower conscientiousness are more motivated externally, by people or circumstances.

Adjustment - able to cope with high levels of stress is a useful trait as a leader. Greater demands, more intense pressures and hostile climates demand greater adjustment. Leaders must take responsibility and take the brunt of consequences, which requires emotional stability.

Curiosity – continual learning helps with emerging strategy and to make informed decisions. Those with high curiosity like new methods and ideas, those with lower curiosity tend to stick to tried and true methods.

Risk Approach – is how willing someone is to confront and solve difficult situations.  A leader must have the courage to explain strategy even in the face of opposition. They will have a more proactive approach to dealing with problems. Whereas those with a lower risk approach tend to have more reactive, instinctual responses.

Ambiguity Acceptance – is how someone approaches uncertainty and complexity. Leaders seek out more information, even when there are conflicting opinions whereas others have little tolerance for complexity.

Competitiveness – focuses on the success of the organisation, competitive advantage of teams, departments and the company. The hypercompetitive leader wants to be seen as the success of the organisation, and those with lower competitiveness take a more collaborative approach.

If you have identified these traits in employees, you will know who your rising stars will bill and help them to grow to their full potential, and get them ready for leadership positions.

What about during times of significant uncertainty and change?

Normally we look for strategic leaders who plan for the next 5 to 10 years, but 2020 has been an impossible year to plan for. Generally, Conscientiousness and Curiosity are key but during times of stress and uncertainty, such as coronavirus, we also need Adjustment and Ambiguity Acceptance. Leaders now have to manage complex business environments where there is no clear or simple answer, leading to higher levels of uncertainty.

So, how can leaders encourage teams and organisations to thrive

  • Conscientiousness – make long term plans for the business, but don’t lose sight of employee health and well-being
  • Adjustment – act as a role model and explain how you manage stress and difficulties.
  • Curiosity – listen – a lot of good ideas will come from the team. Listen to what’s working well and what needs to change.
  • Ambiguity – even when there are no easy solutions, listen to conflicting views – it’s not possible to accommodate everyone, but consider different opinions.
  • Risk – when things are changing quickly, mistakes will happen. Take considered, constructive risks and explain your decision-making processes.
  • Competitiveness – Remember when people are working remotely they still need to be  recognised and thanked for their contributions.

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