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Employers Seek Leadership Qualities


Lawrence & Schiller doesn’t hire only candidates with marketing and advertising degrees. In fact, one of the four interns this summer—yours truly—has a degree in agricultural communications and leadership. This demonstrates the need to hire people based on their experiences and leadership qualities—and not simply their degrees.

Of course there are a few basic qualities that benefit all employees, like being knowledgeable and having a good work ethic. But when it comes to leadership, employers often look for specific qualities. 

According to a recent study by the South Dakota State University Honors College, five top leadership qualities that employers seek are: integrity, communication, team building, passion and a positive attitude.

This same study used data from a survey of more than 1,200 managers to identify an inventory of five themes. These themes, titled Leadership Practice Inventory, were determined by asking the managers about their “personal-best experiences” as leaders. Here’s what they found: 

1. Enable Others to Act:

Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships, and strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence.

2. Challenge the Process:

Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative. Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience.

3. Inspire a Shared Vision:

Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.

4. Model the Way:

Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared ideals. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.

5. Encourage the Heart:

Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence, and celebrate values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

Not surprisingly, there are clear ways in which these themes mirror the qualities that employers seek in new hires.

1. Enabling Others to Act (Team Building)

 Building relationships with others

2. Challenging the Process (Integrity)

 A driving force to improve and take risks

3. Inspire a Shared Vision (Passion)

 Enlisting others with a common vision

4. Model the Way (Communication)

 Finding your voice and affirming shared ideas

5. Encourage the Heart (Positive Attitude)

 Focuses on celebrating the values and victories

The people who make hiring decisions are already in leadership positions, so it’s no surprise that they’re looking to add additional leaders into the fold. And when it comes to the virtues they seek, employers look to their own experiences. While it’s true that some candidates might seem like a better fit because their college background is in the same field, don’t underestimate the value of a fresh perspective.


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