In order to build a leadership team for your organization, you need to be able to identify the qualities of a good leader. Recently, at the Wharton People Analytics Conference in Philadelphia, General Motors CEO and former head of HR Mary Barra shared the key qualities she has learned make an effective leader: integrity, a collaborative mindset, the ability to influence others, and technical ability and passion. But beyond these traits, she also shared how she identifies them in a prospective leader for her company.

During interviews, Barra asks candidates just three questions. First, she asks the candidates to share the three adjectives their peers would use to describe them. Then, she asks candidates how their managers would describe them in three adjectives. Finally, she asks candidates to share the three adjectives their former colleagues would use to describe them.

While candidates may think they need to change their answer for each question, Barra is actually looking for the opposite -- she wants the three adjectives they use in every answer to be almost the same.


As reported by Quartz, Barra explained, "If you're hiring for integrity, you don't want people to manage up differently than they manage down, and you want people to work just as well with their peers and superiors as they do with their subordinates."

According to Barra, when leaders are consistent in their approach, it is empowering for their teams, thus enabling better work and making them better leaders.

The next time you're hiring for a leadership role, consider this and other methods to test for consistent attitudes and behaviors in varying contexts. This will help you build leadership team that is defined by integrity, collaboration, strong influence, and skill and passion.