Good Leadership Means Identifying Talented Leaders

By | July 25, 2018

[July 25, 2018]  One of the advantages of long-term and successful experience as a senior leader is the acquired ability to identify and promote talented leaders.  It becomes a “calling” to find, support, and advance those junior leaders who show high potential as future leaders.

“Great things are accomplished by talented people who believe they will accomplish them.” – Warren Bennis

There are common traits that make it easy to identify talented leaders but there are also organizational cultures that must be considered too when good leaders are working to identify those who show the most promise.  A track record of performance, ability to execute with minimal guidance, passion, ambition, a positive attitude, strong team player, and an active listener are some of those common traits.

But there are the less common traits that are not so easy to discover and use as criteria for a process that helps identify those who will eventually go far in their chosen organization.1  There is some controversy on this subject but it is a good idea to have a formal, open process for identifying talent that includes specific criteria.

I believe that it is in the best interest of an organization to have a transparent process that identifies talent.  By doing so, everyone who may be interested will know what is expected to become a more senior leader.  On the other hand, and surprisingly, the U.S. Army does not have a formal process but nearly everyone knows what is expected of them.  Irrespective of the processes formality or lack thereof, criteria must be clear, fair, realistic, and beneficial to the organization.

What matters most is those good leaders have the ability to identify up and coming talented leaders.  The must also promote them by providing additional education, network opportunities, better pay and benefits, appropriate challenges, progressive leadership responsibilities, and do so in a timely fashion.

This is what good leadership is about.  Without such an effort to identify talented leaders, the future of any organization is suspect.


  1. This means that anyone who shows future potential must be a good fit. In other words, what may work for one organization may not work for another.
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “Good Leadership Means Identifying Talented Leaders

  1. Wilson Cox

    Thanks Scotty. You got my vote on the quote of the day. The article today brings back memories of when I was a junior leader and didn’t take my job seriously. I was lucky that a senior partner in the law firm where I worked saw something in me. I was given a number of opportunities to prove myself and value to the firm. Fortunately it worked out.

  2. Scotty Bush

    “The most important thing a mayor does is hire talented people to run the city.” A quote from John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado. Good man overall (despite his propensity to do stupid liberal stuff).

    1. The Kid 1945

      Good quote. Yes, I agree we should listen to people who are successful, even when we disagree with them occasionally. Maybe they are right and we are wrong. Or, maybe not.

  3. Len Jakosky

    Part of being a successful leader is “identifying talent.” But also it means taking care of that talented person, training them, giving them additional opportunities to improve themselves, and encouraging them. It also means mentoring them so that they grow and fit into the organization. Great article today, thank you Gen. Satterrfield.

  4. Yusaf from Texas

    Thank you for another informative article. I agree with you and have found your words to be true. If you are a leader and cannot recognize what it takes for others to do well, then you need to step back and learn a few things.

  5. Delf A. "Jelly"

    This topic is often discussed in the senior levels of most organizations. I have found it, however, more crucial to our success than most give it credit. If you are a leader – at any level within any organization – pay close attention to what General Satterfield has written here. If you want to fail, then ignore it. If you want to succeed, in any endeavor, then learn to recognize talent and promote it.

    1. Gil Johnson

      Thanks Jelly. Good comment that hits home with me.

  6. Georgie M.

    Another good leadership article to start my day. Thanks. This is the type of stuff that keeps me coming back to your website and helps keep me in touch with what leaders are thinking about these days.

  7. Drew Dill

    Not that long ago I retired from the business world and saw a lot of organizations sink because they failed to search for talent among their own. I’m not a big advocate of always promoting from within but there are many advantages to this tactic and should never be overlooked. Just my two cents worth. Thanks for a good article.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Very good comment Drew and spot on for what those of us who are senior leaders are thinking about.

  8. Mike Baker

    Identifying good, future leaders is not an easy task and should not be left to chance or to “somebody else.” It should be a methodical way to successful chose those who have both the talent and the willingness to be a future leader in the organization.

  9. Forrest Gump

    Another good post. Thanks Gen. Satterfield.

  10. Shawn C. Stolarz

    I would be willing to bet that most organizations, especially smaller ones, have no process at all. Nor do they give any serious thought to making it right. Identifying talent is key to the success of any organization regardless of its type. We should pay close attention to those who come behind us.

  11. Joe Omerrod

    Unlike many in the business world, I always believed that it was best to promote from within. Especially senior leaders should be selected from those who have “grown up” in the organization and not elsewhere. Such leaders have the savvy and the standing among those who work there to pull off various leadership roles. Good job Gen. Satterfield on giving us a look at a key asset of good leaders.

  12. Army Captain

    In the US military, this is very important and is not overlooked. We may have no formal and publically available processes but it is well known, passed down through word of mouth to those who are among the best. Keep that in mind that we inform those who show promise of what is needed.

  13. Martin Shiell

    I agree, pretty good article. My favorite one from the Forbes article is “understanding compromise.” It’s my favorite not because it works all the time but because this is the one that is most difficult to achieve and still be able to make it work.

  14. Max Foster

    If I had to identify a list of five key attributes of good leadership, identifying talented people would be in there. In fact, it might be number 1 or 2. Too many leaders fail to recognize the importance of doing so and thus put their companies’ at risk of long-term failure.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Thanks again Max for great comments.

  15. Dale Paul Fox

    Good article to enjoy on my Wednesday morning with coffee. Thanks again for making my day.

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