It can appear like exceptional leaders possess a certain X-factor; it seems as if they inherently know what to do, and how to lead. But star leaders aren’t born with superhuman capabilities. Rather, these are people who have put a laser focus on their own development. They have intentionally put themselves in situations where they have had to learn, adapt, and grow—a crucible for developing the tenacity and fortitude to motivate and guide others.

Would you like to be able to identify the potential for leadership in your people?

We’ve gathered insights from within our team of recruitment and HR specialists, whose roles involve sourcing, identifying and nurturing leadership potential on a daily basis.

Here are the top ten attributes our professional team look for, in potential leaders.

1. Valuing Resilience

Is the 2024 world landscape changing more rapidly and drastically than humans have ever had to deal with before?  It certainly feels that way!  Given the state of flux and uncertainty we’re collectively living and working in,  it’s no surprise that resilience is a crucial leadership quality. Those people who can quickly adjust to new circumstances, learn from setbacks and maintain composure in high-pressure situations are often seen as having strong leadership potential. In a workplace, these individuals are the ones that are able to help guide their teams and organisations through challenges, and lead them toward success in an ever-evolving landscape.

2. Authenticity: showing up as your ‘Best Self’

Being genuine and true to who you are is fundamental to success in any role. A talented leader must embody their truest, and best self—the version that’s not only highly effective but also capable of motivating and inspiring those around them. Competence is not enough; people need to trust a leader’s character and connect with them, otherwise they will not be willing to take risks alongside that person.

The ability to be authentic ties in deeply with the capacity for self-awareness, so look for both these characteristics in assessing your people or new hires for leadership potential.

3. Passion & Mission/Values Alignment

People are at the heart of every organisation. That’s why hiring “right” for each and every position within your organisation is so vital. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for hiring panels to be too busy checking education/experience/skills boxes, to remember to consider the overall cultural and values fit. Sometimes, the candidate who checks the most boxes, isn’t necessarily the best person for the job.

When your business learns how to hire for passion, mission and values alignment, that’s where the magic happens. New employees who are committed to your mission and company goals are more likely to stick around, which allows the time needed for leadership development. Remember, you can train employees on policies and procedures, but you can’t educate for passion, drive and energy.

4. Prioritising Flexibility

A willingness to compromise and change direction at speed is an essential attribute of leadership in the current world. Flexible leaders can diagnose what is needed in a situation, and shape their actions, and interactions accordingly. Fortunately, flexibility can be easily demonstrated and seen. For example, an employee who has cheerfully and successfully changed tack on a project in order to meet shifting client requirements, is showing their flexibility.

5. Seeking Agile Leaders with Adaptability

Adaptability as a trait is of course similar to point 4 above, but whereas flexibility can enhance day-to-date operations and interactions, adaptability is essential for long term success in changing environments. Adaptability fosters an agile team culture. It may involve deep, strategic shifts in how things are done, to pivot when needed, and embrace new opportunities. We are always on the lookout for someone who’s got a track record of picking up new stuff on the fly and actually using their learnings to make things better. For example, an employee who jumped into a new role and crushed it, or someone who took some tough feedback, and used it to up their game.

Historically, when we’ve hired candidates who are hungry, have a competitive mindset and aren’t afraid to shake things up a little bit, we end up with someone who inspires others to follow suit. They’re the ones who keep us all on our toes, and continually push the business forward.

6.Strategic Thinking Abilities

We all need leaders who possess the vision and analytical prowess to steer teams and companies toward sustained success. These people demonstrate an exceptional grasp of complex business environments, foresee potential hurdles, and innovate solutions essential for effective organisational strategy development and implementation.

Strategic thinking in leadership can significantly impact employees’ success by providing a bigger picture, and aligning their efforts with overarching organisational goals. Having a leader who exemplifies strategic thinking cultivates a collaborative atmosphere, empowering employees while providing them with the essential resources to make impactful decisions crucial to overall success.

7. Promoting Inclusive Decision-Making

A key attribute you should seek in future leaders is inclusive decision-making. Inclusive leaders foster environments where diverse perspectives are actively sought and valued. This approach not only enhances team morale, but also drives innovation, as varied viewpoints often lead to more comprehensive solutions. By prioritising inclusivity, decision-making becomes a collective process that reflects a broader range of experiences and expertise, resulting in outcomes that are robust and well-rounded. Emphasising it in your leadership development ensures decisions are well-informed and reflective of your diverse workforce.

8. Decisiveness

On the topic of making decisions, in addition to a focus on inclusivity, when looking for leadership potential, decisiveness itself should also be on your list. The ability to make decisions promptly and confidently is not a skill everyone possesses. Whether it’s every-day operational business, or times of crisis, decisiveness streamlines processes, reduces delays, builds confidence, boosts morale— and is a competitive advantage.

9. Recognising Initiative

Initiative is a key indicator of leadership potential. When evaluating candidates, don’t just look for someone who can do the job well; instead look for someone who goes above and beyond without being asked. Initiative often shows that the individual is not only invested in their own success but also in the team’s success, and that of the entire organisation.

People with initiative are the ones who identify gaps, propose solutions, and take steps to implement those solutions, often before anyone else even recognises there’s a problem. Initiative is a clear sign that a candidate has the foresight and ambition necessary for leadership.

10. Looking at Situations with Empathy

Empathy is not something that comes top of the list for everyone when looking for potential leaders—though we feel like it should! (No one wants to be responsible for bring the callous, insensitive leader into the business!).

Empathy is a critical management and leadership trait; it's what enables leaders to assess situations from the perspective of their team, and not simply be led by their own ego or opinions. Understanding and connecting with others on an emotional level is a key trait of strong leadership. To be successful as leaders, people need to foster relationships, build trust, and actively engage with their team members.

You want to employ a great leader? You need to know what you are looking for!  We hope this list of key attributes will help you when you are next hiring, or developing your people, searching for that special spark that shows this candidate will be able to step up, and lead successfully in your business.


Of course, even with the right attributes and bucketloads of potential, there’s always more to learn and upskill that can help with positive leadership. In addition to our specialist leadership recruitment services, we also offer learning and development programmes which are particularly beneficial for, and targeted at new people managers and leaders. They will help those with potential get well underway on their leadership journey.
Visit this page for more details about our training offering, or feel free to get in touch on +64 9 300 7224 or email