The Holy Grail in business today is engagement: employees’ energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to their companies.

Hint: If your employees are lacking this attitude, they may not be the root issue. Take a look at the leadership within your company. While finding good employees can be difficult, finding leaders who inspire can be even more so.

“To suggest that leaders do not enter the world with extraordinary endowment is to imply that people enter the world with equal abilities, with equal talents.” (Thomas Carlyle, 1840)

6018While it’s certainly true that some leadership skills can be learned through training and experience, great leaders often have certain innate qualities that cannot be taught. Below is the Leadership Potential Equation developed by Raymond Catell. Created in 1954, this equation was initially developed based on a study of military leaders, but is still viewed today as a determining factor in what makes a great leader, great.

  1. Emotional stability: Good leaders must be able to tolerate frustration and stress. Overall, they must be well-adjusted and have the psychological maturity to deal with anything they are required to face.
  2. Dominance: Leaders are often competitive, decisive and usually enjoy overcoming obstacles. Overall, they are assertive in their thinking style as well as their attitude in dealing with others.
  3. Enthusiasm: Leaders are usually seen as active, expressive and energetic. They are often very optimistic and open to change. Overall, they are generally quick and alert and tend to be uninhibited.
  4. Conscientiousness: Leaders are often dominated by a sense of duty and tend to be very exacting in character. They usually have a very high standard of excellence and an inward desire to do their best. They also have a need for order and tend to be very self-disciplined.
  5. Social boldness: Leaders tend to be spontaneous risk-takers. They are usually socially aggressive and generally thick-skinned. Overall, they are responsive to others and tend to be high in emotional stamina.
  6. Self-assurance: Self-confidence and resiliency are common traits among leaders. They tend to be free of guilt and have little or no need for approval. They are generally unaffected by prior mistakes or failures.
  7. Compulsiveness: Leaders are controlled and very precise in their social interactions. Overall, they are very protective of their integrity and reputation and consequently tended to be socially aware and careful, abundant in foresight, and very careful when making decisions or determining specific actions.

(Sahu, R. K., and Pragya Bharti. Strategic Leadership. New Delhi: Excel, 2009. Print.)

There is no end-all-be-all guide or set of rules to picking someone to fill a leadership role within your company. A lot of it will depend on the specific position you are hiring for, and whether or not the candidate meshes well with your company culture. But using the above traits as a baseline may be a strong starting point.

Do you agree or disagree? What traits do you look for when filling leadership roles?

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