Take a Page Out of The "Apprentice’s" Playbook: Tips For Finding and Developing Future Leaders

As anyone who has watched NBC’s The Apprentice would know, it can be difficult to find the right candidates for leadership roles. But Donald Trump has a point: The need for quality future leaders is essential because, while most organizations strive for high employee retention, there will always be turnover due to retirement or employees pursing other opportunities. We don’t suggest that you have your staff go through a series of elimination rounds, but the following tips may help you identify and develop your future leaders:

Identify those who thrive on change

When there’s change in your organization, do some employees flounder while others look at it as an opportunity to try out new ideas or processes? Those who can see change as a positive and understand the benefits are good prospects for future leaders.

Challenge your top performers 

Are there team members that not only meet, but consistently exceed your expectations? Encourage these strong performers to expand their abilities. If a leadership role is not available or your employee is not quite ready for advancement, let them know about upcoming projects, and challenge him or her by increasing responsibilities and accountability. This will allow them to build on their existing skills and cultivate new ones, such as team management or making presentations to higher-level audiences.


Try transferring employees to other departments or into different roles in a temporary rotation. This can provide your staff a chance to shine in new ways. Not only can they learn about other areas of the company, but also discover new interests, hone skills and become even greater contributors.

Offer mentorship

Connecting staff members with mentors, formally or informally, will provide them with one-on-one guidance and insights into roles that they may perform in the future. Having a mentor is also a good way for them to expand their skills — both technical and soft.

Establish professional development programs

Providing quality instruction and training does not have to be an expensive venture. You can develop cost-effective options, like e-learning which will allow your organization to train employees without incurring the cost of off-site instruction. Also, encourage employees to share key learnings from any recently attended conferences or seminars.

Provide a path

Talk with your employees about their goals and aspirations, and help them develop a career path. An Accountemps survey found, 54 percent of professionals polled felt that knowing their potential career path is “very important” to their overall job satisfaction. Showing them there are a variety of options at your company will make it more likely that they stay with your organization and become your future leaders.

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