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Have You Selected the Right Person to Lead Your Team?

By Bob Catinazzo

One of the most important aspects of running an organization or team is identifying potential leaders, which is not an easy task.

Many senior leaders continue to make the costly mistake of promoting the wrong person, especially when selecting Front Line Supervisors (FLS). It’s easy to fall into the trap of evaluating a candidate’s leadership capabilities based upon misleading information or overvaluing specific attributes (while undervaluing others).

As such, organizations fail to produce an accurate picture of their top prospects and often learn they made a poor choice the hard way, after a catastrophic event.

Typically, organizations tend to focus on specific tasks performed and fail to investigate an individual's behavioral/interpersonal characteristics and capabilities.

When considering someone for a promotion, you must embrace the challenge of evaluating that person as either a High Performer or Leader; hopefully, he or she is both!

I often challenge our clients to answer these questions:


Do you welcome the challenge of inspiring your uninspired employee?

Or do you hide from it? 


A true leader welcomes the challenge, while a high performing employee may not have the time nor the skills necessary to deal with it.

Let's dog deeper into the topic...



We often overvalue people who perform job tasks well and make their bosses' lives easy. Good "foot soldiers" are assets to any company; however, it's not a given that they will be effective leaders. 

Many leaders prefer to promote high performing employees and delegate specific responsibilities to them while providing various opportunities to grow through "on the job" experiences where they learn from their mistakes.

In the process, the culture takes a hit. It can take years to repair the damage and return to a healthy culture if the mistakes are severe enough. It is important now, more than ever, that you choose a person who excels in the following areas:

·       Accountable to themselves

·       Independent thinker

·       Decision maker (even if others disagree)

·       Others will follow

·       Others will trust

·       Capable of positively influencing culture change

·       Accepts the challenge of inspiring the uninspired employee

·       Excels as a mentor



The first step in the selection process begins with a true understanding of what the word LEADERSHIP means.  

Websters’ dictionary defines it as follows:

  1. The office or position of a leader

  2. Capacity to lead

  3. The act or an instance of leading

  4. Leaders


Do you notice anything peculiar in this definition?

Correct, it contains the word ‘leader’.

Typically, when a definition contains the word you're trying to define, its effectiveness in helping you understand approaches zero.

At PPI, we’ve crafted our own definition of who a leader truly is.


Anyone taking proactive ownership of their actions and behaviors,

while positively influencing the actions and behaviors of others.

What impacts me most about the PPI definition is that it has nothing to do with a job title or status. It clearly defines what it means to be a leader and that ANYONE can be a leader within an organization. 


For promotional consideration, a front-line employee's leadership qualities (or lack thereof) are on display every day. If you're correctly observing and evaluating them daily, their leadership capabilities should be clear to you.


Far too often, we evaluate the employee on individual success. Beyond their statistical success, does the promotional candidate display strong leadership qualities within his/her work product?


Ownership and Accountability is not something that comes after- the- fact for successful people.


True leaders continually look and think 360 degrees forward, backward, up, down, and sideways. They incessantly look for ways to make things better, safer, more reliable, and more efficient.


For example, Jeff Besos, the founder of, commands a disruptive company; he uses culture change to drive engagement. He communicates powerful narratives about the future and develops a road map before disruption takes hold.  He looks ahead 5 to 7 years!


Is your candidate Proactively Accountable? Does he/she anticipate perceived problems and opportunities while fully owning his/her choices, actions, behaviors, and outcomes? Do his/her peers respect and trust him/her?


More importantly, does he/she influence the actions and behaviors of others? 


How you answer the above questions will go a long way towards adequately evaluating your promotional candidates and positively impacting your organization.


Let’s dig even deeper.


How important is it really, why does it matter?



Within your organization, the Front-Line Supervisor (FLS) has the most significant influence on your workforce. Specifically, HOW the organization does WHAT it does.


The below graphic below illustrates the results of an analysis of an extensive database of safety/accident investigations.


The intent was to identify and quantify the relative importance of the organization's various aspects concerning the potential for an accident to occur.


As you can see, the elements include Organizational Culture, FLS Influence, Social Dynamics, Thoughts, Feelings, Tteam Member Choices, Actions, and Behaviors, and the Actual Risk of the job itself. Through analysis of data, the study quantified the relative impact of each of the contributing factors.


I circled both FLS Influence and Organizational Culture. It is important to note that the person who drives organizational culture is the FLS, who per the study, has a 61% impact (direct and indirect) on the potential for an accident to occur or NOT occur!! 


As you can see, the FLS job is undoubtedly the most critical in your organization, and the selection of that person is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. 


In my next blog, we will move from selecting a leader to The Next Generation "mindset," where you, as the leader or influencer, promote the types of choices, actions, and behaviors you're looking for and grow them rapidly.


Need to re-energize your workforce in 2021? It’s easy to, HOST a "LIVE" PPI Leadership Course ( for your leadership team, and set the tone for an engaged workforce as they return to work..


Let me know how I can help!


Bob Catinazzo, PPM

Practicing Perfection Institute

Executive Vice-President – Client Services

(203) 738-8466

Bob Catinazzo is a decorated Senior Supervisory Agent for the DEA (retired), and is Director- Law Enforcement Services for the Practicing Perfection Institute.  He has taught law enforcement professionals around the world, providing strategic and tactical insights in leadership and human performance.

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