Register now for our free virtual workshops  |  SACS Consulting Clients: Login to the Portal

Narrow search results to:
Products & services
Blog articles
Knowledge Hub
Sample reports
Read time18 mins

How to recruit the leaders of the future

Save this item for later:
Your saved content:
Confident businessman offering a handshake with a group of future leaders smiling in the background.

Strategic recruitment of the leaders of tomorrow

Looking to recruit leaders who will drive innovation and progress in your organisation?

Discover the art and science of recruiting future leaders – those who will carry the torch of innovation and progress within your organisation.

Our comprehensive approach to leadership recruitment goes beyond traditional methods, helping you pinpoint candidates with the vision and capability to lead with authenticity and purpose.

Explore the intricate balance between identifying reliable candidates and uncovering visionary leaders poised to propel your organisation forward.

From assessing cognitive abilities to evaluating personality traits and aligning values, discover the tools and strategies to cultivate a dynamic leadership team that drives organisational growth and success.

The art and science of recruiting future leaders

Watch the video to understand how to identify and recruit potential future leaders for your organisation, who have the traits, skills and vision to drive innovation and success.

Step 4 - Develop and recruit future leaders with high performance modelling

Step 2 - Essential qualities of effective leaders

If you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Cultivating the leaders of tomorrow

Hi, Andrew from SACS, and welcome to video number three of our six video series, all about developing the leaders of the future in the disability sector.

So this is video number three, and we are focusing on recruiting future leaders in this video.

After this we’ll be talking about modelling the leaders of the future, that’s a scientific technique which allows you to identify the people who are likely to be your leaders of the future from within your own staff.

We’re going subsequently to show you some disability sector profiles, and leadership profiles within the disability sector, and finally, to talk about how to develop leaders.

And the first two videos you can see one is about what is leadership, and number two was the intrinsic characteristic of leaders.


So when you hire somebody you need to know whether you are seeking to recruit an SPOH or an LOF.

So the idea of SPOH is that it stands for a safe pair of hands.

And there might be times when you want to recruit somebody, and you’re quite happy if you recruit somebody who can do that job.

In effect, they’re a safe pair of hands to do that job.

But somebody can be a safe pair of hands but not an LOF which stands for leaders of the future.

So you’ve got a decision to make strategically, haven’t you?

Particularly if candidates are short, there will be times when you’re happy if somebody is just a safe pair of hands, but if you’re not recruiting enough LOF, leaders of the future, you got a problem because you won’t have the, in effect, talent pool to rise up into your leadership ranks.

It’s growth of that organic strength that gives organisations to continue to evolve their leadership capacity as time goes on, and as organisational needs develop.

A future leader’s cognitive abilities

Now, one of the first things that you need to decide if you’re going to recruit leaders of the future is whether they’re smart enough, because it’s possible to be smart enough to be a safe pair of hands to do the job that a person’s occupying right now, but maybe they’re not smart enough to be a leader of the future.

So that’s why many organisations psych test people on the way in.

And they’ll psych test for verbal reasoning which is about words, numerical reasoning which is about numbers, and abstract reasoning which is about problem solving, about being able to identify characteristics of situations, where there are themes to be able to strategise more effectively, to be able to undertake tactics more effectively.

And as I mentioned in the last video people with higher abstract reasoning tend to be better at working out creative solutions to problems, but they also tend to be a bit better at sensing political and interpersonal sensitivities, people with good abstract reasoning seemed to have better antennae for that.

And we know that people talk a lot about emotional intelligence, and high abstract reasoning is one component of that, when have this capacity they tend to read people and situations better.

What sort of profiles?

Well, I guess if you’re looking for people to be leaders of the future, if you’re norming your cognitive ability profiles against a professional population, which means when you benchmark the scores that people get as they’re applying to you, if you’re norming them against the professional population you probably should be looking for somewhere around the 50th percentile on average or above.


Because that means that the cognitive ability of the people who are leaders in your organisation will be about the same at least as people out in other organisations.

So a professional population is a population made up of people who are in management roles, or in leadership roles, or in professional roles, so that’s a good benchmark to use for those cognitive ability scores.

And here’s an example of what these results might look like.

And I thought I might show you this profile here because this example is an example where you can see this person is extremely high in verbal reasoning.

They’re sort of average in numerical reasoning, and they are quite low in abstract reasoning.

And the risk that you run with a profile like this is that when people have extremely high verbal reasoning they tend to be very impressive in the way that they express themselves, they tend to have a glib tongue, they tend to be quick on their feet.

You know, you get all these expressions about what people are like when they like this.

This is somebody to whom words will come very quickly.

Now, one of the things that we also know is that when people are high in verbal reasoning like this they tend to be impressive, they tend to be somebody who is kind of charismatic because they find the words and they are powerful.

But if you look at the abstract reasoning score you’ll notice that the abstract reasoning they score 24.

What that means is that the person’s ideas are not likely to be very strong, but their way of expressing them will be very powerful.

And that’s a risk because they can be persuasive about those bad ideas.

It’s an interesting risk profile, and certainly when we’ve seen this in real live workplaces we’ve often seen it coupled with performance issues associated with getting bad ideas implemented, and accepted even though perhaps the evidence for their support is not strong.

Personalities of future leaders

I want to talk about personality.

This is a HEXACO personality assessment.

It’s called the SACS 6.

And basically this is a personality instrument based on the HEXACO model of personality which I explained in more detail in the last video.

But this instrument is a work worded version of the HEXACO personality model, which means that all of the questions in this SACS 6 personality measure are worded in terms of work.

So they don’t ask questions about art galleries, or parties, or anything like that, all of what’s in this assessment is based on work matters.

Now, integrity modesty one of the things that we’re looking for in leaders is this characteristic.

Honesty-Humility as it’s called in a traditional HEXACO, but this is the characteristic of being honest, truthful, straightforward, and not arrogant, you see the score here for absence of arrogance.

So when people score low in this on HEXACO personality measures, they tend to go to jail more often.

Integrity-Modesty or Honesty-Humility as it was called in the original version of the HEXACO, is a great predictor of bad behaviours.

People who score well on this tend to do less bad stuff.

People who score low on it tend to be much more likely to bully, harass, steal things, those kinds of things.

So this is a score which is worth taking into account because people talk a lot about authentic leadership, people who score high in this tend to be more naturally authentic.


You want people who are likely to be leaders of the future to be relatively low on emotionality, that’s an indicator of leadership success.

People who are highly emotional tend to make bad leaders.

You also don’t want them to be very angry.

People who are low in anger are much more likely to be successful in leadership roles because they tend not to be harsh, they tend not to polarise people, and they tend to be also less likely to do things like bully and harass.

We know that anger is a driver of negative behaviours.

So in those unfortunate cases where people have been involved in neglect or abuse, it’s amazing how often trait anger, the tendency to be angry has been part of that natural profile.

Next you want people who are highly conscientious.

Conscientiousness is a great predictor of success at work, but it’s also a great predictor of people’s capacity to be seen as leaders.

As I mentioned in the last video, people who are highly conscientious tend to be respected by other people.

And people like to be led by somebody who is well organised, well structured, and motivated, and enthusiastic, committed to hard work.

So those are favourable characteristics.

Openness to experience, people who are not too close-minded.

And it depends on the job somewhat but people who are open-minded enough to do the job that’s a very valuable thing.

And finally, extroversion, that is to say that if you have somebody who is a naturally severe introvert, it’s difficult for that person to be a confident, and effective leader.

And some people have been in roles virtually throughout their entire lives, really smart, really motivated, but they tend to be more of a behind the scenes person purely and simply because they’re so low in extroversion.

And extroverts do tend to rise to leadership positions more often than introverts.

There can be fantastic introverted leaders, but this is an example of things that you might look at in terms of those profiles.

The right way to use values


Now values vary team from team.

So it’s important to understand what the values of your organisation are.

And I know that we have value statements, but the value statements have little to do with the values that are actually within a team or an organisation.

These are the things that you aspire to, the things that you put in your value statement.

But when you psych test an entire group of employees, and you assess their values as they actually are, building a profile can be incredibly powerful for helping the work group to be more cohesive, but also it’s a fantastic recruitment technique.

Recruiting people who are consonant with the values that you stand for as an organisation, or in a specific team, and when they’ve got that match, those people are much more likely to be seen comfortably as leaders.

So consider psych testing for values, and this is the SACS value scale, authority, ambition, enjoyment, variety, autonomy, social justice, environmental sustainability, helping and supporting, rule respecting, traditional values, and safety.

And we’re going to show you some data from values profiles in the next video.

But one of the things that we’ll show you is that people in the disability sector most of them are very strongly committed to social justice.

So make sense, doesn’t it?

Why are you in the disability sector?

Well, most people in the disability sector care enormously for helping people with disability to achieve their goals in life.

I mean, that’s a classic social justice issue.

Most people in the sector as strongly committed to equality of access to services, a real social justice issue.

Another thing that people in the sector are often committed to is this helping, and supporting profile, especially if you’re a direct support worker, let’s say you would hope that people are naturally inclined to help and support people.

And also you tend to find a lot of people in the sector committed to environmental sustainability, not because that’s an issue that’s intrinsically suited to the disability sector, it’s because social justice and environmental sustainability kind of go hand in hand neurologically.

That’s why virtually every green party in the world stands for a platform that’s both social justice, and environmental sustainability.

The parts of the brain that drive both are very similar, and so there’s a neurological crossover there.

So you should value access, and make sure that people have that capability.

Meta skills for successful leaders

When you are psych testing and the psych testing is done, then you also might like to focus on some meta skills.

Now, there’s a study in New Zealand called the Dunedin Study of Human Development.

And it’s a longitudinal study of human beings, and how they develop.

And one of the things that they sought to measure is the degree to which you could predict that people would go on to have success in life.

And they determined success kind of in broad brush strokes, you got a job, you’ve got a stable relationship, you’ve got a stable place to live.

And what they discovered is the single biggest driver of this, and by the way the Dunedin Study has been running for more than 40 years now, a thousand newborn babies have been followed every year as they go through their life.

But they discovered that the thing that drives success in that sense, stability, being established, having a place in the world is in fact self-regulation.

Self-regulation is an incredibly important thing to human beings.

And so when people are self-regulated they tend to be more predictable to people around them, they tend to be more reliable for people around them.

And when they feel strong emotions they’re able to manage those emotions rather than live them out, let’s say in anger, or fear, or anxiety, or depression.

So self-regulation is an incredibly valuable capability for leaders, the ability to self-manage, and that’s part of what people call emotional intelligence very often as well.

Another thing that’s a really strong meta skill for leaders is to learn how to learn.

And so let me tell you what I mean by that, the old saying is that there are people who need a feed and other people who can fish or farm.

So they don’t have to be fed they can take care of themselves.

And that’s certainly true in terms of being able to learn as a professional.

A meta skill is self-assessment.

There are many studies of human development and of learning in amongst professionals that demonstrate that almost the most valuable skill that you can have as being a lifelong learner is the ability to self-assess.

So if I’m coaching somebody I can say where you’re going when, or you’re going poorly, or whatever, that’s what’s called feedback.

But when a person has learned to self-assess they become much more self managing in terms of their own learning.

Self-assessment is an incredibly valuable skill, and evidence that people have self-developed, and have managed their own self-development programme, that’s a very strong indicator that they may well be good leaders, because it’s that self-development that’s so much part of the evolutionary process of a good leader becoming a better leader.

Natural leaders

One of the things that you might like to look for is a history of leadership.

So when you seeking for somebody who’s not just a safe pair of hands but a leader of the future, inquiry into their leadership experience.

Have they been in leadership roles socially?

Have they been in leadership roles at school?

Have they been in leadership roles in sporting clubs?

Have they been in leadership roles in terms of some kind of community activity like volunteering or something like that?

Leaders as I said in the last video, tend to like to lead, and tend to be comfortable to take on leadership, but also it tends to naturally get thrust upon them.

We know amongst us people who we feel would good to lead us through things, and we turned to them.

Evidence of enthusiasm for leadership put sense of comfort, but not arrogance or power seeking.

You know people can seek to be leaders for an extremely wide range of reasons.

They can seek to be leaders because they really want to help people.

They can seek to be leaders because they really want to achieve a meaningful goal.

But sometimes people seek leadership because they seek power.

And as Dalberg-Acton said all those years ago in this very famous quote, ‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Good leaders don’t want power, good leaders want outcomes.

And there are combination of personality characteristics, and values characteristics, which can be interpreted to make you more comfortable as to why this person sought leadership.

But if you’re interviewing them a good behavioural interview question was, give us an example of a leadership role that you took on, and what was it that motivated you to take that on?

If the answers are all about, look, I really wanted to help this group to achieve an important outcome, or the outcome was so important I felt that I’d like to throw my shoulder behind the wheel to achieve that outcome, those kinds of answers are much more important about progression or ambition kind of answers.

Now, we’re not screening out progression or ambition kind of answers, but if somebody’s making those kinds of noises I’d certainly want to psych test them to make sure that they’re not arrogant, or dominant, or something of that nature.

The best leaders are outcome seekers rather than power seekers.

How to recruit the leaders of the future

So there are some things that you might like to take into account in recruiting the leaders of the future, but it really comes down to what are you looking for, safe pair of hands, or leads of the future?

I think that if you want to have a healthy leadership pipeline, it’s absolutely crucial to factor the leaders of the future characteristics into your hiring process.

And no you don’t want every single person to be a leader of the future, but organisations that strategise to recruit leaders of the future run into to far less difficulties with succession planning, because they have that feedstock welling up, growing up, evolving within the organisation.

So when a need arises then people are ready to step forward.

Now, this is succession planning, old fashioned models of succession planning where you take a person who’s in this role, and you try to create these three or four people to move up, it doesn’t work anywhere near so well.

There’s a book called the leadership pipeline going back decades ago, and that’s still quoted to this very day.

The only problem is that the leadership pipeline is actually a sieve.

What you really need is bench strength, so whenever a vacancy arises you have that bench strength to step up to that role, rather than trying to craft somebody to be ready to step into a specific leadership role.

So that’s what we wanted to say about recruiting future leaders.

Next, we’ll be talking about how to model the latest of the future from within your own staff.

So the idea here is that have you ever had the experience where you’ve said, if only we had more Mary Smiths?

Well, if you’ve got a group of leaders who are very effective across an organisation, why not find out why they’re effective.

Psych test them, competency profile, build a profile and recruit against that.

Because I’ve advised companies for decades now on how to create the leaders of the future, and guesswork, I mean, there are some things that we know that are very consistent amongst good leaders, and we’ve explained some of those to you, personality characteristics, values characteristics, cognitive ability characteristics, but the best way of recruiting the leaders of the future is to take some of that stuff into account.

But the absolutely best way is to find people within your own organisation who you believe are leaders of the future, find out what are the special vitamins that they share, and then recruit for that profile in future.

There’s a scientific way of doing it, this is called high-performance modelling, that’s what the next video is about.

Thanks very much for watching this one.

Ready to create effective future leaders?

Step 4 - Develop and recruit future leaders with high performance modelling

Step 2 - Essential qualities of effective leaders

If you’d like some help to make your leaders more effective in the workplace, contact us about our 360 Degree Feedback tool.

Discover Our Psychometric Testing Tools

Increase the accuracy of your recruitment decisions by up to 40% using psychometric assessments.

Psychometric testing predicts work outcomes, including:

  • Likelihood of success & failure at work
  • Counterproductive work behaviours
  • Occupational health and safety issues
  • Attitudes towards diversity

All of our psychometric assessments are based on research and backed by science.

See how SACS psychometric testing can enhance your hiring process and your existing workforce.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Helpful resources

Did you find this content helpful?

Please rate our content.

Average rating 0 / 5. Votes: 0

Please share any suggestions on how we could make it better. Thank you!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Ready to optimise your workforce? Contact us now.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.