The unpredictability of events over the past few months with the euro meltdown and volatility in global markets seems to have taken many governments, economists and organisations by surprise. Only this Spring, many were optimistic of financial markets recovering and progressive global recovery. The lesson of the past few years must surely be that yesterday is not a predictor of tomorrow.
Organisations are understandably looking for leaders who can gaze into the crystal ball to see the future and somehow reassure employers, customers and investors that they have a great masterplan to control the destiny of their business. However, many CEOs are increasingly accepting that a specific skill set of competence is less critical than the ability to be agile to current events and adjust behaviour and strategy to suit.
The challenge for HR around the recruitment and development of leaders is that they are familiar with a range of traditional tools such as past experience (the dreaded CV), intellectual ability (psychometrics) and behavioural competence (assessment centres). These are all valuable to some degree for stable roles in organisations, but in a changing world, are they missing another characteristic?
Creating an ’agile’ pipeline
Assessing the more qualitative merits of a leader isn’t an exact science, but it is possible. At A&DC we use a model of five key attributes (LIVED) to asses a candidate’s potential to thrive in today’s highly volatile working world.
The ability to make sense of your immediate environment through feedback from others, recognising any personal assumptions that can lead to blind spots and learning from your past experiences. This focuses particularly on learning rapidly from experiences and translating this into actual practice. This may require a change in habits and embedded behaviours, which many people find difficult.
This has always been the dominant predictor of management success for many years in business and is still important today. However, it’s the way that this is applied that is critical, as leaders need to be effective, rather than just clever. In fact, there is strong evidence that the brightest individuals, based purely on IQ terms, are often not the most effective leaders, as they overemphasise the important of rationality in behaviour and can overlook influencing and engaging other, more subtle, techniques.
Whether personal or professional, a person’s values form the basis of what many leading theorists have described as character. Evaluating a candidate’s integrity, honesty, sincerity, trust and respect may seem like a tall order, but these characteristics will give you a real insight into how they will work in your team – after all it’s these features which act as guiding principles when making crucial and difficult decisions.
Emotional intelligence requirements should never be underestimated. The ability to analyse and understand relationships, take someone else’s perspective, resolve conflicts and manage anger will have a huge impact on the effective functioning of the team.
Managers will often consider a person’s ‘Drive’ in terms of motivation. What we are referring to when we look at ‘Drive’ is the engagement aspect of leadership that inspires people into action. Any employee can be measured on personal drive, but a leader needs to convey this to the team in order to motivate and engage staff.
Whilst each of these attributes have their own level of importance, it is the Learning Agility aspect which integrates and ‘gels’ the other elements together. A person’s Learning Agility can have an impact on and change each of the values in our model, making it the most valuable quality in a business to evaluate. As each of these LIVED components are so different, we use a variety of assessment methods to ensure a more comprehensive and robust process. For example, ability testing is great for the ‘Intelligence’ component, but not necessarily for the’ Learning Agility’ component, where Deep Dive Interview tools or 360° Feedback are more appropriate.
Adapting to the economic weather forecast
As businesses continue to evolve in an uncertain world, a flexible view of leadership behaviours is helpful to ensure that talent continues to support business growth.
The economic environment has been stormy for some time and organisations need to recognise that they cannot ever control the business weather, but they can help to identify leaders who are able to adapt to the ever changing currents and winds of the future.