In an age of data analytics, identifying leaders is paved with indices, graphs, and KPIs. The truth, however, is more complex and maybe a bit too human for the algorithm’s taste. In a world where artificial intelligence creeps into every facet of corporate governance, I stand firm in my belief that leadership is about the inherent capacity for empathy, vision, and adaptability – qualities that can’t be distilled into a simple ‘leader’ or ‘non-leader’ category in a company’s digital systems.

The Human Touch in Leadership Selection

It is common knowledge that leaders are vital to an organisation’s success. Their ability to inspire, see the big picture, and guide teams through challenges is simply not negotiable. The question then arises—how should potential leaders be identified? The typical corporate response leans heavily on past performance and education, perhaps with a nod towards the elusive “cultural fit.” However, I argue that this metric has been weighed too heavily in the leadership laboratory, skewing the assessment process.

To truly identify leaders, companies must return to the fundamentals—people’s skills and their ability to interact with and govern these skills in a way that benefits the collective future are paramount. This is not to say that educational backgrounds and work history have no place, but to suggest that they should not be the predominant factors.

The Blueprint for Assessing Leadership Readiness

In creating a blueprint to identify leadership material, I propose a rigorous and human-centric methodology, as we, after all, are dealing with human futures here.

1. Holistic Assessment: Beyond the Resume

A resume is a two-dimensional view of a person’s professional life. It does not tell the story of resilience, passion, or the person’s capacity to learn from failures, which are all crucial pillars of a leader. Psychometric assessments, extended interviews, and case studies can provide a more three-dimensional view. They can uncover emotional intelligence, problem-solving capacity, and the moral fabric that will be tested in a leadership role.

2. Defined Criteria: Beyond Subjective Judgment

Subjectivity can lead to bias, and while we cannot eliminate it, we can certainly mitigate its impact. By outlining clear criteria, we can ensure that the process is transparent and that individuals understand why a certain person was chosen for a role.

3. Developmental Opportunities: Nurturing the “Almost Leaders”

Not every future leader comes fully formed. Many require time, space, and encouragement to develop. Organisations should focus on creating experiences, providing mentorship, and tailoring education to the unique needs of these individuals. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach but a personalised developmental plan.

4. Succession Planning: The Investment in the Future

A good leader doesn’t just make the present team function – they plan for the next leader and the team that individual will lead. Succession planning should be a part of every leader’s duty, matching potential successors with appropriate roles and grooming them for the future. This helps a great deal to avoid putting the next available person in a leadership role just because they may have been in the company for a long.

5. Feedback and Coaching: Continuous Improvement of the Leadership Population

Selection is only the first step. Effective feedback mechanisms and coaching are fundamental to truly identifying leaders. This is about creating a culture where leadership constantly evolves, and mentalities are continually challenged.


In conclusion, the quest to identify leaders in our companies is human. It requires a stoic blend of science and soul, data and dialogue. For leadership to thrive, companies must identify potential leaders and invest in their growth as early as possible. The corporate world needs leaders who can weather the storms of the digital age with a solid footing in the distinctly human qualities that can’t be replicated or outpaced by machine learning. Leadership is not a destination but a continuous human story that we must curate with care and wisdom.

To the leaders of today and tomorrow, may your blueprints be rich in empathy, steeped in vision, and as adaptable as the people you lead. Through your work, we, as a collective, find our way in this new and evolving world.

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