NOTE: This is not a list of “leadership traits” although all of these certainly relate to sound and effective leadership. But rather than leadership traits, these are suggestions for the practical and effective engagement with potential leaders. The best leaders I know are not focused on their own development but are keenly interested in recognizing and developing future and emerging leaders. Keep the following points in mind and you will be effective in your engagement with those who God allows to cross your path. Remember, it’s not just about you. What God has given you, give away to someone who needs what you have.
• Never “go internal.” Look at them and make eye contact. One size does not fit all, but there are certain common ground areas that are evident in almost all leaders and potential leaders. Look for these potential leaders. They are out there, and they want and need what you have.
They must know that you are interested in them. They know this by your questions and how you respond to their answers.
Active listening, more than anything else lets the speaker know that you are paying attention.
Articulate, but don’t over complement, what you see and hear in their speech. Be as specific as the conversation warrants. Their response will illuminate their “teachability.”
They must believe that at that moment, they are the most important person in the room for you. Genuine interest cannot be faked. Seek to influence them through your interest in them.
Make a “sandwich.” Even the tough conversations can start and end with an encouraging word. Never fake it, always speak truth. This opens the door for the future and sets the tone for the next interaction.