Studies have time and again shown that companies promote their employees based on what they have previously done, rather than what they can do.

Promotions are still largely based on an employee’s past performance and that organizations continue to assume the attributes that have made someone successful so far will continue to make them successful in the future (even if their responsibilities change within the organization). This is one of the primary reasons why there is a lack of leaders in today’s age. When did you last hear a story as inspirational as Mark Zuckerberg’s?

True leaders are not easily identifiable and therefore sometimes you can find yourself recruiting a follower instead of an effective leader. Thus, recruiters will have to change how they evaluate and hire candidates. Only then can you truly understand how to hire a leader for a company. So, the next time you’re hiring for a major managerial position, follow the curated steps below.

How can a recruiter hire a leader?

Your hiring manager gives you a strict deadline and you, as a recruiter are required to hire a suitable candidate. However, you’re at a complete loss regarding what to do as the managerial position is highly significant and your manager has repeatedly stressed not to mess it up. What do you do?

1. A master in communication

Business communication is a critical subject matter for every single organization that is built here in this time. Effective communication is even more significant for leaders and managers who are the building blocks themselves. If a candidate fails to communicate or express their own ideas to the team, then in no way can they lead! Leaders of all levels are required to communicate a variety of messages such as plans, assumptions and feelings with different teams. They can be your subordinates, peers, superiors and even clients. Such frequent code-switching will require effective business communication skills and the mastery of arts. When a recruiter is interviewing the candidate or evaluating him/her, make sure the first criteria you test out is whether the candidate can communicate in a proper manner.

2. Should understand the company’s vision

A company’s vision and mission generally change with time since the same business strategies don’t work all the time. Thus, a proper effective candidate who can be a possible leader must be able to plan effectively and ensure that their companies grow regardless of what the future holds. For instance, at the beginning of 2020, no one really predicted how harsh and how rapid the consequences of the pandemic would be. Organizations with effective leaders (who had a strict vision) were able to succeed and their companies avoided getting shut down altogether. Recruiters can uncover this leadership skill by searching application materials and asking relevant questions regarding that particular candidate’s vision. It can be anything like their vision in life to a mock situation where they’re asked to give a quick insight. A true leader likely has evidence of improving a previous employer’s possibilities with proactive changes to technology and technique.

3. Should be able to influence

If a candidate in a managerial role is unable to influence his/her team members’ work for better output, convince everyone of their decisions or cannot simply help a team meet their weekly or monthly goals, then he/she is ideally not a suitable leader and desperately needs to work on their influential capabilities. Leaders must be able to convince everyone of their instructions. To test this, recruiters should try and understand whether the candidate is culturally fit with the rest of the team members.

4. High decision-making skills

Not everyone is a natural-born decision-maker. However, a leader will be able to be swiftly decisive. Asking applicants to discuss difficult decisions of the past, their methods of coming to a suitable conclusion and the eventual outcomes is a smart way for a recruiter to understand how well they manage this skill. To create a culture of clarity, effective candidates must be able to portray their decision-making skills as their top priority.

Dave Girouard, former President of Google Apps and now CEO of personal finance start-up, Upstart2 had said, ‘All business activity really comes down to two simple things- making decisions & executing them. Your success depends on your ability to develop speed as a manner in both.’

Recruiters must therefore look for advanced education in candidates or with successful completion of courses in organizational leadership. This will help them make a proper choice, no matter what.

5. Highly adaptable & high performance metrics

Consider the instance of this recent Covid-19 pandemic. Those business organizations only thrived that had effective leaders and managers who were able to adapt to this pathetic situation and helped change or mentor their team members in a manner that was new to keep the business running. Those opposed to reform will usually fail to lead their organisations to success. A candidate’s work experience should reveal an enthusiasm to revise plans and alter strategies for the betterment of the company.

Moreover, a leader must be able to showcase a sense of likeability, trust and ability to their team members. Leadership demands a broader range of character traits, including high levels of integrity and low levels of dark-side behaviours that are generally born out of narcissism and psychopathy. A recruiter who is unable to recognise these will end up hiring mediocre team leaders and managers.

It’s high time everyone rethinks the concept of leadership and how gravely a wrong hiring decision can affect a company in the long-run. In simple terms, recruiters must start looking out for candidates who have the above qualities in them, not just top performers. Let us know in the comments below, what makes a great leader?