To identify talent is not a difficult task – if you know what you are looking for

So, the crucial questions to ask yourself are: ‘Talent for what?’ and ‘Do we have the necessary assessment tools to identify potential?’

By Joan Jakobsen, Founder of A&D Resources
 
What is leadership talent?
When we look for future leaders, we are often attracted to charisma and perceive a strong social presence as leadership talent. But charisma – the ability to impress, charm and attract attention – is often difficult to reconcile with being a good leader. This is because, at a basic level, charisma focuses on one’s own goals, interests and public accolade rather than on working for the team and the organisation.

Future leaders should be selected by the use of objective assessment data rather than being selected based on subjective perceptions and political interests. It is obvious and well researched that teams and organisations with good leaders achieve better business results than those with lesser leaders.

Basically, leadership talent is about the ability to attract the right people for the job, to build, motivate and develop the team, to be able to communicate, plan and prioritise as well as having good judgement and the necessary hard skills.

- "The statistics speak for themselves: In the industrial world, 70% of employees say that the most stressful part of their job is their immediate boss"*. (*Source: Globenewswire)

Employees look for integrity, good judgement, competence (meaning that their leader knows what they are doing) and vision in their leaders. If one or more of these leader­ship competencies is missing, both the individual and team engagement suffers. And as high engagement leads to high performance, it pays off to take a good look at the criteria and the methods we use to select our future leaders. 
 
Here’s where it often goes wrong…
At A&D we distinguish between ‘Leadership Emergence’ and ‘Leadership Efficiency’.
  
  • Leadership Emergence is about the degree to which a person stands out from their peers, builds strategic business relationships, exerts influence, and is viewed as a leader.
 
  • Leadership Efficiency is about the degree to which a person is able to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to drive those teams toward organisational success.

Emergent leaders are easy to identify in organisations due to their charisma, whereas efficient leaders are easily overlooked due to their humbleness.

However, valid data shows that humbleness and perseverance is what characterises long term successful leaders, whereas there is no evidence that charisma, in itself, leads to leadership and business success. To quote Dr Robert Hogan, Founder of Hogan Assessments:

- "What is good for the team is always good for the individual. What is good for the individual is not always good for the team.”
  
Motivate the people in your team
 Basically, good leadership is about being able to motivate the people in your team to abandon their individual agendas and work together to achieve a shared goal. This is only possible for leaders who can put themselves aside, focus on the team, become role models and foster commitment and engagement.

A dedicated team is the proven path to better business results. We see that highly charismatic and ambitious individuals often find it very difficult to make the transition from individual contributor to leading a team. The main reason for this is that people with these characteristics are mostly motivated to create individual results and to stand out. They find it difficult to get the same motivation and engage­ment by creating results through others.

- "With the right assessment tools, we are able to distinguish between successful individual contributors – who we mistake for potential leaders – and people who have the abilities to work through others and to make a team successful."

Without valid assessment tools, it is a lottery to appoint new leaders. This is because we cannot know if a person who is successful in their present job has the potential for the next level – let alone a leadership role – by performance evaluation and perception only.
 
Selection for the Talent Pool
The most certain way to minimise mistakes in both external and internal talent ap­pointments is to use robust psychological assessment tools to select those who should be part of the ‘talent applicant pool’. The process is often done the other way around. Employees are selected for the tal­ent pool based on performance in their present role and on their leaders’ subjective perceptions.
 
Later, assessments are maybe conducted as a starting point for further development. But if the process is turned around – assessments first and appointment to the talent pool afterwards – it is possible to accurately advise which career path is the best fit for the individual. This ensures that the right individuals are in the right ‘talent ap­plicant pools’, which will ultimately save resources and produce significantly better business results.
 
As an added benefit, good personality assessment are always a great way to create what we call ‘Strategic Self Awareness’ – the basis for all efficient personal and leader­ship development.
  
Find the balance between Emergence and Efficient Leadership
As mentioned earlier, Leadership Emergence is about standing out, impressing others and attracting attention, whereas Leadership Efficiency is about the ability to lead a team and create sustainable results. It is very important to be able to identify people who balance the two. In order to do this, high-quality assessment tools are needed.

By using high-quality assessment tools, we can avoid being seduced by charisma and instead get the right people in the right positions for the benefit of the business and the organisation.