20 Things You Need In A New Leader

Is it time for a change in your organization?


Perhaps we don’t really “need” a new leader. Maybe we just really “want” it. Do you ever feel that way?

Change is inevitable. I know, that is so cliché. That doesn’t make it any less true. Leadership change is often needed when organizations have plateaued, been through a crisis, or leaders have taken themselves out of the picture for various reasons. In each of those cases, someone must take a hard look at the organization and the needs of all the parties concerned and select another leader.

What are some things that an organization should consider in selecting a new leader? Consider with me the following as a partial list of key skills, abilities, traits, or tendencies. It is not an exhaustive list by any stretch. But it may spur some thoughts and ideas as an organization moves forward with seeking and selecting new leadership.

They must possess Leadership Abilities– This one almost goes without saying. When selecting a leader, make sure they have demonstrated leadership somewhere and some place before you bring them into your organization.

They Must Demonstrate Past Performance / Results – When searching for a new leader, do your research. Check out the leadership candidate. Has he/she demonstrated strong leadership in the past? Do they get results?

They Must Realize That They Are Part of Something Bigger – Each of us is a part of a much larger organization. And we should consider that we are building something that is larger than our local organization and it should fit well with the larger organization.

They Must Show That They Have Learned From Past Mistakes – Everybody makes them. How does the leadership candidate show that they have learned from mistakes made in the past?

They Must Show That They Can Fit Within the System or Personality of the Organization – Does the candidate mesh with the organization’s overall system or personality? If not, you are destined for conflict.

They Must Understand Their Own Strengths And Weaknesses – Both the leadership candidate and the organization need to understand their respective strengths and weaknesses and each other’s as well.

They Must Be A Hard Worker – Are they a hard worker who exhibits high effort? This is key if they are to lead an organization largely comprised of volunteers.

They Must Be A Finisher – It is one thing to come up with great ideas. But can they execute the ideas and drive them to completion?

They Must Be A Team Player? – Yes, they can lead. But can they get along with the rest of the team and with the whole organization?

They Must Be A Problem Solver – It is one thing to identify problems. That is the easy part. Can they solve problems? Can they work together with the leadership team to find creative solutions?

They Must Have People Skills – This one is a skill that cannot be learned. It is often an intuitive and innate one. But, even those without great people skills can develop a “warmer” persona and demonstrate real care and concern for those people who make up the organization.

They Must Be Consistent – The need for long patterns of demonstrated leadership is great. Being able to do something for a short time is one thing. Being able to be a successful leader for a long period of time is quite another.

They Must Be Stable – What is their personal and private life like? Is there drama at home? If so, there will be drama (or at least diminished success) at the office.

They Must Have Some Charisma – This one can be taken to an extreme when we seek someone with all charisma and no substance. But, are they charismatic and dynamic as a leader? No one wants a boring and lifeless leader.

They Must Be Mentored – They may be an established leader. But are they actively being coached or mentored? If they feel they don’t need help, then they need it more than they can imagine. There should be a plan for continual improvement.

They Must Be Able To Prioritize – No one can get everything done that needs to get done. So, can they prioritize and focus on the things that have the potential for the greatest impact?

They Must Have Mental Toughness/ Personal Tenderness – Are they mentally tough enough to take the slings and arrows of leadership? Yet, are they personally tender and compassionate with an ability to speak to the organization with love and tenderness?

They Must Have Capacity – Do they have the capacity to grow as the organization grows?

They Must Have Margin — Do they have any excess capacity beyond their normal capacity or output?  If they are always flat out and running on empty, they will burn out. They must have boundaries of protection from followers who would want their attention 24/7. And they must have something in reserve for those days when we reach the end of our normal capacity.

They Must Have Listening Skills – It is assumed they can verbalize and vocalize. But can they listen?

This is not a complete or perfect list.  But, it should help organizations in the midst of leadership change or who are contemplating a change in leadership.

What traits or abilities would you add to the list?

Question: What am I missing from this list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

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