At least half of companies do no formal assessments of potential for their leaders and tend to be shooting in the dark when it comes to identifying their future talent. In another research study, it was found that 75% of high performers do not have the requisite abilities to handle the increased complexity in senior leadership roles. I4cp’s research showed that the most common executive assessment tools when there is a formal process is the 360 degree feedback assessment. Other popular tools they found included the following:
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), used by 68.2%
- DISC, used by 61.4%
- Lominger Assessment Instruments, 47.1%
- Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI), 43.2%
- StrengthsFinder 2.0, 43.2%
- Thomas Killman Conflict Management Indicator (TKI), 40.7%
In my opinion, of these assessments, only Lominger, Hogan and Killman tools meet the psychometric rigor required for assessment of potential. The other tools are less rigorous, valid, and reliable to be deployed to assess talent who may be considered for senior leader roles. These other assessments are more likely to be used for training and teambuilding activities.
We here at Corporate Performance Strategies strongly recommend that there are multiple data points when considering potential, including: education, experiences, cognitive abilities, personality attributes (what the above measure), performance results, and interview assessments. That helps ensure more accuracy of decisions for determining your bench strength.
What formal executive assessment tools does your company use? When was the last time your leaders were assessed to determine their strengths, weaknesses, or areas of concern? Isn’t it time to implement a rigorous assessment process for the current and future leaders in your organization?
What’s in your blind spot? Are you getting the feedback you need to be successful? Are you frustrated with your career stalling? What helps leaders get promoted and deliver higher results was candid and direct feedback about their leadership from bosses, peers and employees. This feedback was channeled into effective development programs with specific actions to overcome their blind spots, thus leading them to promotions and career success.
For leaders at the top of any organization, feedback is a rarity. Executives seldom get feedback about their leadership style, annoying behaviors, personality quirks, or other actions that make it challenging for them and their team members to be successful. While debriefing a leader I was coaching, he expressed that what he most liked about the coaching process was receiving unbiased and direct feedback. After he received feedback on his leadership behavior and style, he was able to address the blind spots identified and make successful leadership improvements in just 3 months.
Current corporate news are full of stories about CEOs who are terminated or resign due in part to performance issues, errors in judgment and other potential blind spots. The costs of these high-profile departures to shareholders have been documented to be tens of millions of dollars. Mark Hurd, former HP CEO in 2011, and Brian Dunn, former Best Buy CEO in 2012, were terminated due to poor judgment about their personal behaviors. Another example of an ex-CEO with a blind spot is Jeff Kindler, who was let go from Pfizer after a mutiny of senior leaders. Jeff’s leadership issues (bullying, intimidation, etc.) seemed to go on for years without any required change.
When I read these career epitaphs, I always wonder if they were getting unbiased and objective feedback about their leadership issues and blind spots. My guess is nobody had the courage to confront them and as a result, everybody ends up suffering. Learn from these public failures and ask your peers, team members and bosses for feedback on how you can improve as a leader.
During your performance reviews, how many times have you heard that in order to advance your career you needed to:
- Demonstrate you can think and plan for the future?
- Become less tactical and more strategic?
- Focus less on the day-to-day and more long-term in your planning?
The problem is that most jobs below the VP level are designed for you to be very tactical, day-to-day, and to focus on the details. This varies to some degree by industry, but generally organizations are designed for the VPs+ to do the planning and strategy while everyone else’s job is to execute and implement the necessary tactics.
There are number of ways to build that strategic agility competency required to advance, even when you are in a tactical role. Here are some practical tips:
- Conduct your own SWOT analysis on your company. Going through this process will be similar to what you would do when you are developing a strategic plan. It will get you used to the methodology and also give you a useful tool. By using this as part of your day-to-day vocabulary you’ll start getting noticed for your longer range planning.
- Create a mission statement for your department or function. While on a smaller scale, you’ll be able to use the steps to develop your mission later when you get the bigger jobs requiring strategic agility.
- Volunteer to participate on a taskforce or temporary team that has been assembled to work on a strategic initiative for the company. You get exposure to other great colleagues and learn parts of the strategic planning process.
- Don’t shy away from strategy or long range planning. It is not a waste of time if the strategic plans are created and executed flawlessly. It’s not perfect, by definition since we are anticipating the future and other external factors outside of our control.
- Seek outside programs to help you broaden your perspective, especially if you have been resident in one function in your career. These range from earning an MBA or EMBA to a 3-5 day university based course on strategic agility.
- Schedule time to spend one-on-one with senior execs who are responsible for the strategy. Ask several questions about their approach, factors considered, tough choices made, and plans.
- Get the foundation of strategy through books available including Michael E. Porter’s classic Competitive Advantage, a great book to think about business and strategy using the balanced scorecard foundation. Also, Strategy Maps by Robert S. Norton and David P. Kaplan about converting intangible traits into tangible outcomes.
- Also, an article by Jeanne B. Liedtka titled “Strategic Thinking: Can It Be Taught?” gives you the framework and tools necessary to build your strategic agility leadership competency.
Take the initiative if you are in a tactical role and start expanding your dormant competency: strategic agility. It should pay off for you when you get the next promotion.
As part of our blog series “3 Top Coaching Tips for Derailers“, we will take a look at each of the 11 behavioral traits identified by Hogan’s research that cause leaders to derail and include examples with suggestions to overcome each derailing behavioral trait. This week, we highlight the derailing behavior BOLD.
It’s good to have a fairly high degree of Boldness in your leadership behaviors especially if you are in industries that reward this leadership. I do a lot of work in the restaurant and hospitality industry and have found successful leaders actually score high on Bold. When you think about the positives of high scores, leaders who are assertive, confident, and energetic during restaurant shifts and crises carries you very far toward successful guest satisfaction. Being low-key, easy going, and risk-averse does not help in a fast-paced culture. However, taken to an extreme, an over-used strength can become derailing. Anyone can go too far and alienate their work group, peers, and managers.
One senior leader I worked with scored very high in Bold and was not self-aware of how she was coming across with her team. She did not seek negative feedback about her style and she always put herself out front by taking credit for results. She simply turned others off with her seemingly single-minded pursuit of promotions and she often had to be “the smartest person in the room.”
Once this leader got the feedback, which showed up in her 360 degree survey, it was quite shocking to her. She quickly started to change her behaviors to acknowledge and encourage others on her team and to make sure she gave them the spotlight when senior leaders visited her Region. She started asking her team each quarter what she should Stop-Start-Continue doing to be effective. This feedback technique helped her identify specific behaviors to incorporate into her leadership. While she is still a work in process, this leader continues to make progress with building a much stronger followership in the company.
COACHING TIPS FOR THE BOLD DERAILER
The leader should continue: Being a role model for optimism in the face of challenges and problems
The leader should stop: Barking out orders and bullying junior people
The leader should begin:
- Asking trusted colleagues how you are perceived
- Sharing credit for success with your team and taking responsibility for mistakes and failures
- Listening to feedback
- Remembering that the real competition is outside the corporation, not your peers or subordinates
Leaders can be assessed using the Hogan suite of assessments which are very helpful to leaders by increasing their self-awareness and gaining a better understanding of why they are not getting the results required in their roles.