What is your advice for hiring a leader from within the company?

S. Danelle McNeill

MCO Management Solutions

It goes without saying that there is a higher level of familiarity within an internal environment as far as current employees are concerned. Hiring from within also decreases the learning curve of industry familiarity and the corporate culture. However, it is also these same reasons that require the vetting process to be strategic and broad. You must conduct deep personality assessments, check for updated references and determine the level of professional involvement in any one candidate.

Looking for a candidate within the company can also assist in updating the training and development programs, which is so desperately needed within companies. Considering whether the candidate has the vision to move the company forward, both internally and externally, will serve the firm well. Unless a change in direction is what the company is looking for, directors and executives should agree on the general vision for the future of the company. Because it is often more cost-effective to promote from within, cost should probably be a last point of concern.

Ben Ashburn

Instructional Assistant Professor, Department of Construction Science
Texas A&M University

One of my favorite leadership resources to refer my college students to is John Maxwell’s “The 360 Degree Leader.” In it, he speaks to young professionals right where they are in their lives, working in low to middle management. Maxwell describes three principles of leadership that employers would do well to identify in a young employee when looking to hire a leader from within:

  1. Leading-up—Does the candidate show an ability to influence his/her leaders?
  2. Leading-across—Has the candidate earned the respect of and currently show leadership among his/her peers?
  3. Leading-down—Is the candidate a role model to those who report to him/her, or to those who have lower positions? Does he/ she help others learn and grow without being asked?

These three points defined by Maxwell will help construction business owners identify future leaders from within their company. Employers could even take it a step further by giving the young recruits a copy of the book and reviewing it with them.

Howard Lewinter

Business Expert, Strategist
Advisor to CEOs & Business Owners

The first step is to determine what skills and characteristics you are looking for in a potential leader. Is this a take-charge person with a vision and an understanding of what to do in the future? Does this person have the work ethic and determination necessary to lead?

After you have established the qualifications of a leader, look for current employees that have the potential to meet those needs. If someone does, start by giving them more responsibilities in order to see how they react. Let them earn the job by fully owning those responsibilities. When they have proven themselves after a significant period of time, only then should you place them in a leadership role. Re-evaluate along the way and make any necessary adjustments.

Always hire for attitude first. Then, take into account skills, talent and education. Once hired, it is the ongoing responsibility of the CEO, president or business owner to motivate and train employees at all levels. This will act as a pathway to developing potential leaders within the company, regardless of title.