How To Identify Talent: 7 Key Traits That Set Emerging Leaders Apart

“When your company says you want your employees to be leaders,

what that really means is that you want their emotional commitment to your vision.

A leader’s emotional commitment is about taking on the company success as a personal


– Stan Slap

When entrepreneurs start a company, they find a few crazy people to join them, people who see how their vision will change the world. That founding group of employees rallies together, applies strategic thinking, makes ridiculous sacrifices, fails, innovates, fails some more, and eventually figures it out. Why? Because the founding team members were in the foxhole with the entrepreneur. It was “them against the world”.

Emerging Leaders, The DiJulius Group

After they get through that phase, growth comes and more employees are needed, resulting in layers of leadership, and now you have employees being hired by people who don’t have that fuel and emotional connection to the original rebels. You lose your mavericks, and the soul of a startup disappears. The magic that was a magnetic force attracting rockstars who would follow the founder into battle is gone. Current leaders aren’t always effective leaders, yet you don’t have a strategy for identifying emerging leaders. Now it is about growth and hitting the numbers, productivity, and efficiency.

An infinitely better alternative: building and developing great leaders. The key is to replicate that entrepreneurial spirit, instilling it into the next generations of leaders who will rally their teams around the company’s cause, continually seeking opportunities for growth. This is much easier said than done, yet it is foundational to world-class customer service. If your employees in leadership roles are not infused with that energy, your other employees never will be.

Building a great internal culture and leading the Employee Experience Revolution starts with developing great leaders, making your existing ones better, and creating a pipeline of emerging talent that can be the next generation of leaders in your company; leaders who will guide and inspire their teams to provide a best-in-class customer experience.

Qualities of Emerging (and Great) Leaders

Emerging leaders are team members who not only perform their jobs well but also demonstrate potential for growth and leadership beyond their current roles, primarily by demonstrating emotional intelligence in addition to strong critical thinking skills. They are willing to take on challenges and are very proactive in seeking solutions. They also demonstrate their leadership potential with a natural ability to inspire their colleagues.

*Related – Giving New Employees a Soundbite About Their New Career

Identifying Emerging Leaders Requires a Strategy

What are some characteristics to look for in your high performers? Try a systematic approach to filling your company’s higher-level roles. Be on the lookout for these seven qualities:

  1. Overall job performance:

    This one is obvious, but often given too much weight in identifying a future leader. Future leaders can stand out due to consistency and results. Yet this is not the only measure to use.

  2. Showing leadership tendencies:

    Even while being a member of the team, leaders of the future may show leadership capabilities such as supporting fellow team members, taking the lead on projects, and/or superior problem solving.

  3. Innovation:

    Future leaders do not subscribe to the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and are not afraid to propose new solutions. They are seldom satisfied with the status quo. Thanks to their focus on problem solving, they often find new and more efficient ways to do things.

  4. Adaptability:

    Adapting to change is critical in today’s business landscape. Up-and-coming leaders are the ones who embrace change and focus on improving their skill sets, looking for new opportunities to learn and grow.

  5. Communication:

    Effective communication is key to strong leadership. Your future leaders will not only demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly, but also, and maybe most importantly, the ability to listen actively and take direction.

  6. Collaboration:

    Leaders understand the value of teamwork and collaboration. Your future leaders will be those individuals who contribute positively to group dynamics and support their colleagues, offering them a safe space to communicate and share new ideas.

  7. Ownership:

    Emerging leaders take ownership of their roles and responsibilities, going above and beyond what is expected. They are strong performers who proactively seek opportunities to make a difference and they don’t wait for directions. Recognizing those who show initiative and responsibility can lead to the discovery of potential leaders for future roles.

Once an emerging leader has been identified, what are the next steps to take for continued development opportunities? Find ways to get them active within the organization outside of their current role. One good way is to invite them to join a project steering committee where they can interact with leaders, oversee timelines, and communicate progress.

*Related – Your Guide to Making One-on-One Employee Meetings Matter

Develop Leaders to be Human First

New and existing leaders tend to focus heavily on results. Why? Because all their incentives are tied to them. Too many leaders had poor role models early on in their careers. The managers they worked for led by fear and intimidation, only focusing on productivity and top- and bottom-line results, often at the expense of the teams they managed. Leaders need to strike a balance between getting results and being understanding and empathetic with employees to get their buy-in emotionally and physically. While it can be difficult to plan and focus on leadership training when many are in a hiring crisis, the reality is the time is now for organizations to focus on developing great leaders. It is never too early to start preparing someone for leadership.

The single most important determinant of an individual’s performance and commitment to stay with an organization is the relationship the individual has with his or her immediate manager. As stated in McKinsey & Company’s article, The boss factor: Making the world a better place through workplace relationships, improving a worker’s job satisfaction can be the most important thing a leader can do. “Few managers realize what a dramatic impact—either positive or negative—they have on the world through their everyday behavior. It is the responsibility of senior leaders to enlighten them and provide the organizational context that consistently fosters high-quality relationships between bosses and the people who report to them.”

In the digital revolution, human interaction, compassion, empathy, and communication skills have become premium advantages. It’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric employee experiences through genuinely caring about your people. This is no longer an option. It is a strategic imperative. So, get to know your employees; humanize them. Humanize yourself.

“Care before coach.”

– Ken Blanchard

*Related – Training Great Leaders to be People First

Leadership Burnout and Attracting Future Leaders

The Great Resignation wasn’t only about turnover at the employee level. Leaders at all levels quit and moved on for the same reasons employees quit, including burnout and lack of respect, meaning, and purpose in their careers. And just like how organizations replaced employee turnover, companies compromised when replacing their leaders and/or rushed the process, setting up their emerging leaders for failure and additional stress.

*Related – How to Build Employee Morale

Leaders at every level bore the brunt of turnover and attrition fallout, especially middle managers. When a team member quits, it is almost always the responsibility of leaders to pick up the pieces. Rehires don’t happen overnight. Shifts need to be covered, an attempt made at keeping morale up amongst employees who have chosen to stay, interviewing, training replacements, and dealing with customer complaints that inevitably come with newer customer-facing employees.

Over the last few years, we have asked more of our leaders than ever before. Let’s reward them, let’s help them, let’s support, train, and inspire them. To retain existing leaders and attract future leaders, let’s make leadership something that people once again aspire to.


The Customer Service Revolution Podcast

Want to know the secret to growing a business from a humble start in the back of a tanning salon to a nationwide franchise?CSR Ep129 FBFeature, The DiJulius Group
On this week’s episode of The Customer Service Revolution Podcast, John’s guest, Joe Stanoszek, founder of the fastest-growing med spa in the country, VioMed Spa, shares his awe-inspiring journey and how his commitment to exceptional customer service played a significant role in his success. With a candid conversation about his personal story, including his struggles with hyperpituitarism and how testosterone therapy helped him grow, you’re in for an episode filled with resilience, tenacity, and a deep dive into the reality of entrepreneurship.

Here are a few takeaways from the podcast:

  • Joe Stanoszek’s humble beginnings, from growing up with hyperpituitarism and relying on testosterone therapy to becoming the chief innovation officer of the fastest-growing med spa in the country
  • The evolution of VioMed Spa from starting in a small room in the back of a tanning salon to becoming a nationwide franchise, offering a wide range of services from laser spa to injectables
  • His strategic decision to delegate day-to-day operations as the med spa industry is projected to grow by over 300% by 2026
  • The role the pandemic has played in boosting the med spa industry and Joe’s unique perspective on customer service
  • Joe’s views on creating personalized customer experiences and the importance of developing relationships with customers and making them feel valued
  • His personal journey from struggling in college to leading a thriving med-spa chain, attributing his success to hard work and belief in himself

2024 CXE Academy Class kicks off in January

The CXO (Chief eXperience Officer) has been one of the fastest growing positions in corporate America over the last decade. The Customer Xperience Executive Academy (CXEA) is like a master’s degree in Customer Experience. The Customer Experience Executive Academy course is a 12-month part-time rigorous program. Training will occur in the classroom, in businesses, and virtually through scheduled calls and webinars. The CXE student is required to attend quarterly intensive training sessions and participate in virtual meetings.

Follow John on Tiktok, Instagram, or Youtube

Tiktok, The DiJulius Group John IG Post, The DiJulius Group John IG Post 1, The DiJulius Group


Profile Picture For John DiJulius and Dave Murray (Co-Author)
About The Author

John DiJulius and Dave Murray (Co-Author)

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group and Dave is the Senior Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group and has helped dozens of companies create incredible systems that allow them to consistently deliver superior customer service.