When deciding who gets promoted to management, these are the Top 3 skills you should be looking for in a candidate:

  • Leadership potential:

Being a manager is more about the ability to lead through others than to be a stellar individual performer. When looking for the next leader, we want to look for candidates who have demonstrated strength in listening to others, giving feedback, managing conflict, gaining trust, developing vision and strategies, and influencing others, among others. Strength on those skills are an indication of leadership potential.

  • Self-awareness:

Demonstrating awareness on one’s emotions, skills and knowledge is key to being able to lead from strengths and to change on areas of development. As a manager of people, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ get magnified, so you want a candidate with high self-awareness.

  • Interest in management role:

Not everyone wants the responsibility, dedication and schedule that comes with a management role. Sometimes, candidates are just looking for a way ‘up’ the ladder to gain more compensation, but are not excited nor interested in the management responsibilities that come with it. Management is too big of a responsibility to take it for the wrong reasons. Find out candidates’ motivations and interests in a management role, and provide opportunities for growth outside of management.

Mary or Rhonda?

The only information we had about these two candidates was basic experience and performance data.  While this information is helpful as a baseline, it is not enough to make a fair and educated decision on who gets promoted to management. 

After assessing the candidates against the top 3 skills mentioned above, we decided to promote…


Rhonda demonstrated higher leadership potential and higher interest in the management role. In speaking to Mary, she indicated she was looking for a role that would give her higher compensation but was not necessarily looking for the management career path.  Based on additional work considerations, we decided to expand Mary’s role to include additional individual contributor’s responsibilities, which will be accompanied by a salary adjustment.  Both candidates are thrilled with their changes!

Remember, when making any type of management promotional decision, look beyond performance data and assess the candidate’s leadership potential.  

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