True leadership skills must be learned and practised before they become second nature. So what do future leaders look like and how can you help them to develop their skills?

Some members of your team will be high performers but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be natural leaders. An individual’s past performance is a measure of their ability and expertise, but you need to look beyond performance to understand an employee’s appetite to grow, to develop others, to articulate a vision and communicate a strategy.

Potential future leaders will display a high degree of interest in the firm’s objectives, and engage in its future plans and strategy. Consider whether they proactively contribute good ideas and take ownership for delivering those ideas.

The best business leaders seek out challenges, enjoy learning and tend to explore new approaches to their work in order to find better ways of doing things.

Potential leaders have to be able to build a team and influence colleagues at various levels across a business. People tend to gravitate to leaders who will coach them to success. So look for coaching and mentoring competencies, and listen for coaching stories by other employees, to evaluate the future leadership potential of your key team members.

Where possible, it is better to grow your own talent in-house. The cost of retaining and developing your existing team is lower than hiring from the outside. Creating an in-house leadership development program is a good way to evaluate your high-potential team members.