Current recruitment techniques tend to focus on functional/technical competencies and behavioral competencies. This is done by, for example, in basket (simulated workplace) exercises and structured, competency-targeted interviews. But in the traditional approach, a danger is that the appetite of an applicant to undertake a leadership role and the intent underlying this desire may be under-emphasized.
Appointing new leaders is always a challenging process, but getting the right people into the right leadership roles is a critical factor in ensuring individual and organisational success.
Making leadership ability as important as functional competence can however upset the established applecart of expected promotions etc – as indicated in the case study below.
Legitimate Leadership offers a process to assist in selection of leaders by:
- Assessing candidates’ conceptual understanding of the criteria for leadership excellence – that is, care and growth.
- Assessing their ability to apply that understanding to everyday situations.
- Assessing their willingness to play leadership roles.
The process varies according to client circumstances and requirements but typically involves inviting potential candidates to attend an introductory programme (usually half-day) in which the core insights of the Legitimate Leadership Model, and their practical implications, are explained and discussed. Immediately thereafter, candidates’ comprehension, application and willingness are assessed through multiple-choice questions, scenario-based feedback, and face-to-face interviews.
Feedback and recommendations are shared with the candidates’ managers in the form of a report and accompanying conversation, for the benefit of both the managers and the individuals involved.
IN THIS CASE …
A client recently requested Legitimate Leadership to undertake assessments of applicants for a senior manufacturing operator position to which the client was considering adding a leadership component.
The applicants for the position had already been through the company’s routine assessment processes and the 22 most successful candidates were put forward for Legitimate Leadership assessments. The proffered candidates were evenly divided between “old hands” (traditionally the most eligible for promotion) and younger, less experienced people, but generally with more education.
Management wanted to select 10 of the 22 people for promotion.
The outcome of the Legitimate Leadership assessment was that six of the more experienced people fell into the top 10. This was not an entirely surprising result and could be viewed as a good mix between old and new blood.
It did however pose a challenge to management: five of the more experienced people were below the cut-off for the criteria of leadership, and two of the five fell into the lowest quartile. These people had frequently acted in the position when the incumbent was absent and had strong expectations of promotion.
The final outcome was a compromise. Management did not appoint the two people who had fared worst on the basis that they wanted to send a message that leadership and leadership potential needed to be upgraded and viewed on a par with technical expertise and experience. They conceded that this could not be achieved in one exercise and would form part of an organisational culture change process.
Shortly after providing the client with the assessment outcomes and accompanying reports, Legitimate Leadership was asked to conduct a similar assessment process for the current incumbents of the same position. The objective was to obtain comparative information and identify growth and development plans, where applicable.
24 Such people were assessed in this exercise. The leadership capacity of the applicants and the incumbents was found to be very similar, with the incumbents being only 10% higher than the applicants.
However a deeper analysis of the group outcomes revealed some interesting conclusions.
The lowest 10% of the incumbents was slightly lower than that of the applicants and the top 10% of the applicants was significantly higher than that of the incumbents (91% compared to 79%). The assessment score range was slightly narrower for the incumbents.
Some tentative conclusions from this were:
- Due to leadership aptitude and capability not having previously been used as criteria in appointments, some incumbents would require intensive development to close leadership related gaps. An alternative could be to redeploy them.
- Years of not having emphasized the importance of leadership had led to mediocrity in this respect.
- There was considerable leadership aptitude and capability among the operator rank and file which had not been tapped into.
The recommendation to the client was to introduce coaching on legitimate leadership practices and techniques and to rigorously monitor their practical application on the shop floor. And generally, that assessment of leadership potential and capability should be integrated into the selection process for all leadership positions.