It was my fi­rst real attempt at getting a job. Following an interview where I was grilled by ­five very senior people in the organization I was attempting to join, I had been invited for a second round of what I thought was going to be another interview. Fourteen of us arrived early in the morning not knowing what to expect.

By the time the day got off I found out that I was into a rather competitive day. We started with some aptitude tests of some sort and then we had some team work exercises. I thought to myself ‘what a way to find a job?’ but I was to fi­nd out that I was just about 20% into a very long day. The rest of the day was full of exercises and simulations, some of which involved groups where we were asked to carry out projects without an assigned leader. For most of these exercises, we had to do presentations afterwards. Unknown to us, there were some senior people in the organization and some consultants who were in the most unobtrusive ways watching us all the time. We were put through such a variety of activities and situations that by the end of the day the processes tested so many aspects of the personalities and potentials of the participants. Out of the total number some people were selected as management trainees i.e., to go through accelerated management development programmers.

The story I have just told you is one example of how some organizations go about unearthing potential managers. This story shows that the life-long process of unearthing potential managers begins from the day of recruitment. The day when organizations fi­rst start the process of recruiting an individual or a set of people into its fold presents the best opportunity to unearth potential. In some cultures, and organizational establishments, it is thrice as difficult to ­re a person that to hire a person. This is one reason why the best time to unearth potential is to ensure that in the first place we recruit great people.

The growth and success of any organization is determined by the quality of its people. I guess one of the crucial questions is who potential managers are or what do potential managers look like. Hardly do you find that the ­first thing experts talk about when speaking about great managers is their level of intelligence or their level of knowledge even though the two things are very important. This could probably be because these two are taken for granted and are considered a given.

There are certain traits though, that great managers have been found to usually exhibit. In addition to knowledge, skills and intelligence, ten of the most written about qualities are:

1. Creativity: The ability to recognize the obvious whilst ­finding ideas and solutions in not so obvious places and situations.

2. Visionary: The ability to create or see the big picture, paint a picture of it in people’s minds and communicate it. The other big part is the ability to get others to buy into it. This requires that the great manager must also be a good communicator.

3. Motivation: The ability to inspire others unto action and keep ahead to show example and direction. It involves an ability to empower people through building trusting relation- ships.

4. Personal Integrity: Trustworthiness, a certain transparent honesty that makes people able to trust the manager and expect consistency in principle and dealings.

5. Commitment and enthusiasm: Commitment is staying on course and demonstrating a belief in the course, in a way that never says die. Together with enthusiasm, it is a certain infectious attitude that gets everyone around wanting to go the extra mile till a solution is found and it gets done.

6. Ability to make decisions and solve problems: This may sound obvious, but the most frustrating phenomenon in any organization is to ­ll management with people who cannot make decisions. No manager gets it always right but at all cost decisions have to be made by managers. That is what they are paid to do.

7. Ability to just be human: Great managers remain human, self-giving and can truly empathies. They are capable of spotting individuals from the crowd and focus on them when needed whilst leading everybody else. Great managers have a way of creating lightness about stressful situations and celebration of little victories.

8. Ability to inspire self: Sometimes managers themselves need to be inspired, but the truth is that it is lonely at the top and so to stay there you need a certain kind of self-inspiration that works like a dynamo rejuvenating you almost on a daily basis.


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