Q&A: What Are the Hallmark Signs Of Leadership?

by: Karen Alphonse Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Q: As a recruiter, what do you look for in a leader?  What signs indicate leadership? 

A: Sometimes, it is difficult to quantify the traits comprising successful leadership.  The obvious traits include:  effective communication of a vision to others; the ability to execute; the ability to enroll others in the mission/vision, and the ability to generate resources to meet a mission/vision.  Stamina, resilience, persistence and integrity are other key qualities.

In addition to these qualities, I also look for the candidate’s measurable growth over time.  If the resume reflects consistent development, I feel comfortable making positive assumptions about the candidate’s underlying leadership ability.  I also look to see orderly career progression — movement up the ranks with increasing responsibility, thoughtful professional development, periodic promotions and measurable accomplishments in each successive role.  Further, I like seeing and hearing about actual dollars, number of programs and clients who benefited from the success of a particular mission/vision.  These quantitative clues suggest strong leadership.

Another avenue I use to assess a candidate’s leadership is feedback from references.  Frequently, references provide details supporting the idea that a candidate has grown and developed over time.  They can give depth and context to the candidate’s career.  They corroborate the “story” outlined in the resume.

Contact Karen Alphonse at Karena@execSearches.com or visit ExecSearches.com for more information about our career coaching services.

ExecSearches.com is a job board for nonprofit job seekers interested in fundraising, management and executive nonprofit jobs.

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