Precious Mettle

"We're running low on leaders"

Due to the demographics, huge numbers of accomplished leaders will soon be leaving the workforce. This wise guidance is not easily replaced, but we've got to try and we need to begin planning now. Because so many mentors have fewer than five years left alongside those who'll follow, there is little time for trial and error. To ensure that organizations can move powerfully forward, it's imperative that we choose successors carefully AND correctly.

But how do we decide who should lead in the coming decades? Which character qualities will future leaders require?

I assert that one of the chief characteristics needed for future success is "Mettle".

Mettle is defined as "the courage and fortitude to carry on." The need for mettle is obvious. Economic uncertainty continues to grow. Public trust in authority is alarmingly low. It is not an easy time for the inexperienced to experiment.

So how do we predict which potential successors are packed with precious mettle? Consider the way "precious metals" are obtained. Precious metals are mined from hidden locations, brought up to the light and then purified through fire. In the same way, precious mettle must be found deep within new leaders, from every hidden corner of our organizations, and then fanned into flame by passionate mentors. To forge a successful future, today's leaders must mine their organizations for those who already possess the following qualities:

  1. A Mind like a Steel Trap
  2. An Iron Will
  3. A Heart of Gold

Steel-Trap Mind

Here are a few ways to assess whether or not a potential leader has a "mind like a steel trap":

  • Steel-minded leaders study (and avoid) the errors of others
  • Steel-minded leaders brave an issue before it escalates into an impasse
  • Steel-minded leaders know when to reason with and when to empathize with

Iron Will

Here are some ways to discern whether or not a leadership candidate has an iron will:

  • Iron will leaders believe success seeks the steadfast
  • Iron will leaders use stumbling blocks as stepping stones
  • Iron will leaders mold obstacles into opportunities

Heart of Gold

Here are a few ways to recognize whether or not a future leader has a heart of gold:

  • Golden heart leaders look at acorns and see oak trees
  • Golden heart leaders believe empathy powers progress
  • Golden heart leaders choose inspiration: They refuse to use intimidation

Even the most magnificent mentor can't turn bronze into platinum. To build successful new leaders in trying times, we must find the people who demonstrate key character traits and then train them in crucial skills.

I think the future belongs to the organizations that can identify and inspire the next generation of leaders. What do YOU think?