Written by Wayne Buchner on .

6 Ways To Recognise A Leader In A Room Of Leaders

6 ways to identify a leader

Today's professional environment seems flooded with leaders. How do newcomers differentiate knowledge from leadership? How do employers identify team members for leadership roles in a sea of leaders?

Lines are particularly blurred when organisations implement emerging management techniques designed to shake up traditional structures. Non-traditional workplace architectures can unnerve and confuse experienced and newcomers alike, especially in this gig economy where resources are scaled up and down quickly. Alternatively, middle management heavy organisations create too many so-called leaders, flooding the landscape. As an employee or a contractor, how do you determine value from the noise? As an employer, how can you discover an author with true knowledge to create a leader?

Vince Lombardi wrote, "True leaders are made, they are not born". Why is this statement so valuable? Well, with hard work and education, leaders are created. As an organisation, you have a responsibility to teach these qualities to build leaders. Vision, mentoring, relationship building, delegation and trust are cornerstones of great leadership and if well-constructed content is delivered, you impart strong values in your staff and from this base, a leader will emerge. Until then, there are ways to identify emerging leaders.

Bruce Lee, famous for popularising Kung Fu to the world, used a method to pre-empt an attack. The Martial Art he founded, Jeet Kune Do, translated into English means 'The Way of the Intercepting Foot or Hand'. Bruce isolated an opponent's movement to determine if there was an imminent attack. Although I'm not suggesting you go all Kung Fu on your staff, I do suggest, like Bruce Lee, you can be trained to recognise valuable traits of emerging and experienced leaders and intercept their path, building a great leader through education, mentoring and guidance.

There are six steps of recognition; Education, Mentoring, Value, Quality, Humility and Leading by Example.  They are cornerstones of what we believe, make a great leader.


Where others seek to identify, blame or ridicule in situations of error, a leader sees an opportunity to grow and learn through education, training and guidance. Others will posture, dominate and assert, while a leader takes time to develop relationships, delivering valuable content in a positive and nurturing environment, often on their own time, without prompt.


Leaders welcome and assimilate new members, ensuring a positive acclimation process and smooth transition. They ensure ongoing support and growth for their team. Arranging positive experiences, either through professional development opportunities or external activities. You find emerging leaders devote time to forge relationships between co-workers, fostering strong team interactions and productivity.


Passion plays a major role in identifying potential in others. Passionate individuals see the vision and promote organisational values through their activities. They encourage collaboration and inclusion, seeing contributor's knowledge as valuable. These skills, usually unlearned and are highly valuable. Business owners understand that distributing a high level of passion within their organisation is extremely costly. To find this organically within is rare.


A true leader will champion the cause for quality, mentoring subordinates and colleagues on the virtues of additional steps to minimise risk, broaden understanding or adoption. Although this task can be enforced through a series of KPI's, a true leader supports and encourages these steps without reward, compensation or recognition.


Those who dismiss input as trivial, unwarranted or less than gracefully, is no leader. Experienced leaders who admit a knowledge gap foster greater debate within their organisation, remove barriers to communication and encourage knowledge distribution. Identifying this trait in your team shows a person who values learning and will continue to grow and increase value for the organisation. Alternatively, a protesting voice is a sign of an unwavering, closed mind. 

Lead by Example

Truthfully leading by example, shows dedication and true self-belief in one's actions. Not only does it reinforce behaviour amongst colleagues, it proves someone actually practises what they preach. Where many demand, a true leader implements. When searching for a true leader amongst the noise, look for those who implement, as opposed to those who waiver on the details simply due to additional commitment or constraints.

Now, with a toolbox to recognize truth from noise, you have a benchmark to identify, nurture and grow valuable resources within your organisation. Armed with the six steps to identify talent, you can amend onboarding processes to include introductions of mentors. Look for these signs in recruits and tailor interview questions to uncover future potential. Offer mentoring programs to improve retention rates and job satisfaction. Ultimately, your goal is to build a strong cohesive team, where collaboration, encouragement and continual improvement is the goal for all.

About the Author

Wayne Buchner is CEO, Founder and Senior Mentor at Lead Dev. A mentor with over twenty five years experience, who helps non-tech founders and development teams minimise risk and improve quality, communication and success within any size organisation. For more information visit Lead Dev or Lead Dev on LinkedIn