Choosing team leaders who can think for themselves
So, you have two choice: to use your human resources department or to go on your own. Obviously, if you don't have H&R in the company you'll have to trust your gut, but even if you do, the final decision is still yours. Here are some advice to help you if you don't have much experience because an inexperienced people gut just doesn't work well.
When you think about a new team leader, you must do two things: talk to members of the team and do your own evaluation. Now, let's say you have a few candidates.
The first thing you should pay attentiom to is how badly those candidates want to be the boss. Every person excited with the possibility that it will have power over others, able to issue orders to all colleagues, that's not the right person.
There are several motivations why somebody wants to be the boss but the primary one shouldn't be the ability to control other people's lives and careers. That comes with the job, indeed, but if you have a person in front of you that only talks about giving orders, that's not good.
Now, you should ask candidates about their vision. If you get the answer that's exactly the same to your company's vision, forget it. That shows that either your candidate has no clear idea about her position in the company, or she tries to figure out what kind of answer you want to hear.
You want team leaders who can think for themselves, who are able to say what they think, and you certainly don't need anybody with "Yes, boss, as you say boss" attitude.
Now, is the potential leader an expert in her field? Well, she should be, right? Not exactly: the person must know the job well but you don't need the smartest person in the company - remember that you are not the smartest, too, that's why you have smart associates - you need somebody with reasonably good skills but somebody willing to learn. Constant learning is what will launch somebody to the top, not just the diploma.
The final thing you should pay attention to are soft skills. People management. Interaction with others. For example, you can start the conversation like this: "OK, you're my boss. I'm late for work almost every day. You ask me to come on time and I say 'I'll come when I want.' What will you do?"
This will show you will your candidate try to solve the problem on her own, will she jump straight to you, and how much patience she has with people. The point here is an attempt to solve the problem without going up if possible because that's boss' job: to solve problems.
When an experienced CEO say "I'm feeling in my gut he'll be a good team leader" that's because that CEO already has answers to all these questions and know all those advice we stated above. If you are not so experienced, use them until they become your second nature. ■
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