There are obvious signs that a person is not ready for management or has been put in leadership role too soon.  Such as continuing to do tasks that should be delegated, taking back assignments from subordinates, not communicating expectations to team members, and not creating a growth environment by micro-managing team members, but having foresight like hindsight is stereotypically much more difficult.

This decision to elevate someone into a leadership role is often one of the most crucial and poorly executed occasions within an organization.  Poor leadership can lead to increased turnover and huge inefficiencies that clearly affect the bottom line.  It’s often best to look at outside efficiencies to predict new leadership success.

While technical and product expertise are often critical for success performance, as an individual contributor isn’t a great predictor of managerial success.  Understanding how to motivate, build rapport, organize and delegate are skills that not everyone is capable of.  

Asking the Right Questions

Questions related to those experiences externally on sports or academic teams or in volunteer experiences can be great indicators of that person’s ability to achieve success.   Below are a few of the questions you can ask.

When have you had to sacrifice your pride in order to move something forward?

What the challenges of managing the team in question?

What outside experiences have you had that involve management principles?

How do you plan to lead, coach, mentor and motivate your team?

How well are you prepared for this role based on past experience?

Do you enjoy the actual work or seeing the final project done more?


Skills like empathy, self-assessment, and emotional intelligence are hard to screen for tete a tete, but can be accomplished through several behavioral assessments.  Vetting testing and ensuring it is uniform will help establish consistency.  All senior leaders should also be assessed to develop a baseline for how leaders become successful internally.


Management, like any other skill, is something that needs practice, self-reflection and coaching to succeed.  Ensuring that new leaders have a competent mentor in place before their first day on the job will help them overcome the obstacles that are headed their way.