When it comes time to hire or promote, top executives routinely overvalue certain skills and traits while overlooking others. Intuitively, for example, they might seek out team players, people who shine operationally, dynamic public speakers, or those who are demonstrably hungry for greater responsibility. But some attributes that seem like good indicators of leadership potential are, ... [Show full abstract] paradoxically, just the reverse. Team players and those who excel operationally often make better seconds in command. Many a great public speaker lacks the subtle one-on-one persuasive powers that a top leader needs. And shows of raw ambition may be more an indicator of ego than of leadership talent. Unfortunately, few organizations have the right procedures in place to produce complete and accurate pictures of their top prospects. Assessments are often based on hearsay, gossip, and casual observation. Many companies spend too much effort trying to develop leaders and not enough effort trying to identify them. A new evaluation process will help you avoid that trap. Candidates are assessed by a group of people who have observed their behavior directly over time and in different circumstances. Using a carefully crafted series of questions, the group can probe a wide range of leadership criteria, including such "soft" attributes as personal integrity, that are difficult to assess. Without such information, senior management will remain vulnerable to misidentifying leadership talent, and the wrong people will continue to make their way up the corporate ladder.