A CEO Speaks: The Four Traits I Look For In My Company’s Future Leaders

Responsible business leadership isn’t just about ensuring your company operates effectively day-to-day. It also, and always, involves laying foundations for success long after you depart.

Here at Hays, we’ve now officially entered the annual succession planning season. Each year, my senior management team and I step back and take stock to assess how our business will be led in the future – and importantly, by whom.

It’s a process we’re all hugely passionate about, not only because we realize and appreciate the importance of planning our future talent pipelines, but also because it never fails to spark debate around the table. Every year, each of us highlights lessons we believe have been crucial to Hays’ success and which of our company’s rising stars have best embraced them.

This year, I thought it would be useful to share these lessons with all of you, so here are some of the key traits that my business looks for in our future leaders.

Future leaders are concerned about how they can help revenue grow over the next decade by discovering new revenue streams, harnessing the latest technology and building our own world-class teams

Traditional leadership skills will always be important

After years of succession planning sessions, the core skills we look for have remained largely the same. The ability to communicate and inspire are still fundamental to any prospective leader we consider.

While this was also the case when I first began my career, today we operate in a different world. In my younger years, leaders had limited means to communicate with their staff, but today’s digital channels have produced a wide range of new ways to exchange information – and this has made it increasingly important for everyone, senior or junior, to have their voices heard.

It’s therefore never been more important for leaders to be able to connect with their people, in a way they can relate to and be motivated by – whether face-to-face, around the boardroom table or online.

Attitude is almost everything

It’s never been clearer to me that many of our emerging leaders thrive thanks to an entrepreneurial mindset.

There’s a common misconception that budding entrepreneurs will only flourish in a start-up or by setting up on their own. This is rubbish. I’ve seen first-hand that a global business can nurture entrepreneurial spirit as well as any start-up.

I’m consistently blown away by the entrepreneurial attitudes of Hays’ regional directors. They aren’t just chasing targets for this quarter; they have a business owner mentality and are focused on the bigger picture. They are concerned about how they can help our revenue grow over the next decade by discovering new revenue streams, harnessing the latest technology and building our own world-class teams.

And this approach isn’t just restricted to senior management. Many of our offices are structured to enable each consultant to behave as entrepreneurs. Operating under intense local competition, our consultants demonstrate everyday entrepreneurial energy, challenged to think commercially about growing their market share, differentiating themselves from their competition and constantly improving the customer experience.

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