5 Attitudes that Define Great LeadersMany succession planning processes involve identifying and developing high potential leaders. As with promising amateur athletes working to secure very scarce spots at the professional level of their sport, not every leader considered to have strong potential grows in their career to ever higher leadership roles.

Through our evidence-based approaches to identifying key leadership skills we know which behaviors as assessed by direct reports, peers, manager, and others separate the good, the bad, and the extraordinary leaders. But what are the underlying beliefs or attitudes of outstanding leaders?

Recently Zenger Folkman examined that question by correlating 360 assessments for a group of high potential leaders with an additional twenty-five attitude questions. They found that five attitude questions correlated strongly with leadership effectiveness:

  1. If I disagree, I usually let others know.
  2. I am willing to take more risks than most of my peers.
  3. It’s easy for me to make friends.
  4. I take time to look at all the facts before making decisions.
  5. I am strategic and future focused.

You can read more about these attitudes in Joe Folkman’s Forbes column, “5 Attitudes that Define Great Leaders.”

What seem to underlie these questions are assertiveness, interpersonal skills, confidence, and big picture thinking. As with aspiring athletes, some leaders are highly coachable and open to feedback and development. Others…not so much.

I’ve found that leaders who don’t successfully grow to fill the potential others see in them tend to be defensive, insecure, less relationship-oriented, and prone — often emotionally — to micromanaging or fixing today’s problems.

How coachable are you or your high potential leaders? How do these attitudes describe the chances of succeeding in your personal development or succession planning efforts?