The work we do for our customers often centres around acquiring the markets best leaders, and if our clients aren't looking to acquire the best leaders then they are looking for high potential talent capable of becoming the next great leader.

The differences between a great leader and the next leader are typically pretty standard, things you would expect such as experience, age, a track record of success etc. These things often come as a result of time served, there are no shortcuts. However, we often see individuals become great leaders without the experience, take for example a business leader such as Mark Zuckerberg who led the Facebook revolution at the age of 20, or elite sports stars such as Steven Gerrard becoming captain of Liverpool at the age of 23. The reality is leaders typically progress to that status over time, but there are common traits that leaders possess much earlier in their career.

In my experience these are the key traits displayed by future leaders, and the critical competencies to identify when looking for high potential talent;

Thirst for knowledge:

High potential candidates consistently demonstrate a thirst for knowledge. It is common for them to have strong educational backgrounds including masters or MBA's but not to "tick a box" they display a real thirst for knowledge and appreciate how this sets them apart from the competition.

Strategic decision making:

Every decision high potential candidates make, is made with their end goal in mind. They display clear thinking at all times, and have clear strategic rationale behind each choice that they make.

Strong reliance on feedback:

They encourage honest and candid feedback, not scared of positive or negative. More important, they listen to this feedback intently and subsequently put a plan in place to improve.

These are, in my experience, just a few of the common traits demonstrated by a leader, whether at the start of end of their career. The challenges faced this year play strongly into the hands of individuals possessing these skills, as they position themselves for success through constant learning and sheer determination to succeed. It is therefore more important than ever that organisations encourage and identify their future leaders.