Jun 22, 2017 2:19:42 PM / by Amy Roesch & Cassandra Czech

“Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.”  – John Zenger

What makes a good leader? Research shows good leaders have common qualities that enable them to motivate others.  If your organization is looking to hire strong leaders, it is essential to hire candidates that embody the traits listed below. Learn key characteristics of a good leader and check out our behavioral leadership interview questions to help you identify them.

  1. Accountability

Leaders know how to effectively manage high levels of responsibility and are able to accept responsibility for their actions as well as give credit to others for their successes. Employees who believe that their manager can name their strengths are 71% more likely to feel engaged and energized by their work. Leaders are not afraid to give credit where credit is due. If they do meet failure, they own up to it. Blaming their faults on co-workers is not their fallback. Look for leaders who can show they’ve handled past difficulties with honesty and integrity.

Accountability Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time where you made a mistake and what you did to fix it.
  • How do you effectively monitor the performance of each of your team members?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a commitment, but were unable to meet it.
  1. Ability to engage others

According to Business Insider, 41% of executives expect future leaders to empower their colleagues. Leaders must be able to engage their co-workers while achieving their goals and objectives. They aren’t looking to be a one-man show; rather, they enjoy completing challenges with their team. Finding leaders with a contagious energy and drive is key because their actions will create a domino effect, inspiring others around them.

Engagement Interview Questions

  • Do you feel you are more effective in a group setting or a one on one basis?
  • What approach would you use to help unify your team in times of disagreement?
  • Describe a situation where you led by example.
  1. Willingness to learn and grow

Great leaders don’t get too comfortable where they are. They understand the need for growth and improvement, starting with themselves. Not only does desire to improve motivate others to do the same but it also opens the pathway for new ideas and processes within the organization. Seek leaders whose work history shows development and growth – cultivating new skills to improve themselves, taking on projects outside their normal scope of work, and having an interest in other areas of the organization are all good signs.

Learning & Growth Interview Questions

  • Give an example of when you were persistent and resilient in the workplace and what the outcome was.
  • What qualities do you have that will make you successful for this job?
  • Explain specific ways that you have grown and developed with each of your jobs.
  1. Ability to act as a catalyst

Ever notice how great leaders inspire action? That’s because when things are at a stalemate, they aren’t afraid to act to get things rolling.  They don’t sit around waiting for the project to complete itself because they know they are an integral part. However, good leaders know the right balance of involvement, meaning they don’t micromanage and aren’t afraid to delegate. They know and utilize the individual strengths of their team members, which is a major contributing factor to employee satisfaction. In fact, 70% of employees ranked being empowered to take action at work as an important factor in engagement and job satisfaction. Look for leaders who speak positively about teams they’ve managed before, while showing they laid out an effective plan that allowed team members to realistically achieve their goals.

Ambition Interview Questions

  • Give me an example of an instance where you showed initiative.
  • Tell me about a time that you had to make a difficult decision in your career and the steps that you took to come to that decision.
  • What do you think is the most innovative idea you have come up with in your professional career and how did you go about implementing it?
  1. Flexibility

Leaders are open to challenges. It doesn’t matter what kind of tasks strong leaders are faced with. They know how to multitask and handle diverse problems. It is important that your leaders are open to change and new ideas. They must not be so set in their ways that they stifle creativity and progress. By encouraging flexibility in the workplace, leaders will make their employees comfortable enough to express their ideas, creating an atmosphere of growth and innovation. Pay attention to how a potential leader has handled unexpected challenges in the past, especially how they responded to employees pushing for change or innovation.

Flexibility Interview Questions

  • Describe a situation where you had to quickly adapt to changes that you had no control over.
  • Tell me about a time where you had to adjust your priorities in order to meet a new deadline.
  • Give me an example of a time where you thought of alternative scenarios and back up plans when preparing for a project.
  1. Emotional intelligence

Good leaders treat their co-workers as colleagues, not subordinates. By taking the time to build relationships and interact with other employees, they are better able to motivate, resolve conflict, and create a positive culture – all things that benefit the organization. When it comes to communication, good leaders are both speakers and listeners. They understand that issuing orders isn’t the way to get things done and instead seek to motivate their employees by understanding what drives them. This happens by listening to their employees needs and concerns, as well as understanding what they are looking for in a work environment. Often when looking to hire someone, potential employers talk to a candidate’s manager or supervisor, but talking to employees that the candidate managed may be more telling.

Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions

  • How do you effectively communicate and share ideas with team members that may not personally like you?
  • Tell me about a time where you received feedback that you did not agree with and how did you go about handling it?
  • Describe an instance where you took into consideration someone else’s point of view and how it helped you resolve a work conflict or changed the outcome of a project.

When it comes to identifying the qualities of a good leader, these are the traits you want candidates to possess. By asking some of the leadership position interview questions listed above, you will get a better idea of what type of leadership style potential hires have. However, don’t stop your search at a candidate simply because she interviews well; also look for concrete examples in the candidate’s work history that shows she is ready to lead. The combination of these two things will help ensure you hire the right candidate who is ready to lead your existing employees toward success.

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