Every individual leads in their own way – so why are we still using a ‘one size fits all’ approach to talent management?

The measurement of talent is a rapidly expanding field, often devoted to measuring aspects of an individual’s personality, identifying their strengths, their preferences, or their type.

All of these approaches characterise different dimensions of the human condition, however the measurement often fails because it doesn’t help individuals to develop their capabilities – it just pigeonholes them.

For example, an assessment based on typologies, strengths, or personality types can accurately describe an individual – the type of person they are and their characteristics – but the assessment doesn’t actually help to develop that individual as a leader.

In fact these kinds of measurements imply that there is one set of strengths, or type of person, that makes a good leader, which simply isn’t true; each leader leads in their own way.

The risk of self-justification

These assessments also run the risk of creating self-justification. The ‘well that’s the way I am made’ argument.

In reality most people are much more complex than a simple set of strengths would have you believe, and people also have huge potential for development and change.

This is why most modern management and leadership assessments disappoint; they don’t help individuals to develop their capabilities.

They imply that you can’t develop into something else, positioning you in one type, one set of strengths, some personality traits and/or a few behavioural preferences. In fact, there is a much richer and more useful way to assess talent.

If leaders want to truly raise their game and the performance of those around them, then a more developmental approach is needed. This can be achieved by ensuring the assessment tools you may be using adhere to four rules.

The assessment should be:

Using these rules unhelpful assessments, founded on confused thinking and inaccurate or untested assumptions, can be spotted easily.

Today we understand so much more about talent management and what really does help develop our leaders, that there is no excuse for the mismeasurement of talent.

Want to read more on this topic? Read True Colours: is personality testing at work useful, or even desirable?

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