As CEO, the talent you choose for your leadership team is critical to the organization’s success—and to your reputation. You already know that the costs of a wrong choice are high, not only in dollars and time, but in the emotional costs—both yours and others.
It doesn’t matter if the hire is from the inside or outside, every leader I know has had a “miss”. Sometimes, there was something you picked up, some reservation you felt. But, sometimes, you just didn’t see it coming.
OR, perhaps the opposite has happened…Your organization has groomed a few high potential leaders but when the time comes to select someone for a leadership role, none of them seem to have the strengths you need.
What gives? Potentially, a number of possibilities come to mind.
- You, and every other leader, has biases. You like some people and may overestimate their competencies (the Halo Effect). Or, you don’t like some people and you just can’t see their strengths. You can’t stop liking or not liking, but you need different criteria to really know leadership strengths.
- You may be fooled by “pseudo leadership” qualities, such as “charisma”. I know several leaders who were initially impressed with candidates like these during the interview but who later found the confidence to be arrogance, the poise to be a lack of engagement, and the charm to be unpredictable and lead to risk-taking behaviors. Do not under-estimate the strength of our first impressions but know that they are ONLY that, not reliable criteria about who is leaderlike.
- You may be evaluating male and female leaders by different yardsticks. I know, you aren’t sexist. However, the dearth of women leaders at the highest levels of organizations is well known. Something IS going on, just ask your women leaders what they notice.
- Your high potentials are great at “kissing up” and “kicking down”. Around you, these folks are ambitious, hard-working, results-driven, as well as respectful and collaborative. However, ask their direct reports and you may get a different story. Assure that your leadership development includes reliable, valid 360 data and don’t pooh-pooh the negative feedback from direct reports as sour grapes.
- You are looking for love in all the wrong places. Meaning, are you looking for leadership in those who “look like” leaders but really aren’t? For guidance about what to look for, consider a recent article by McKinsey, entitled, “Decoding Leadership, what really matters”, says it is 4 behaviors that account for 89% of leadership effectiveness:
- Being supportive
- Operating with strong results orientations
- Seeking different perspectives
- Solving problems effectively
Perhaps you have solved for all the above. Again, good for you. If you still need a better way to identify who REALLY has the above or just appears they do. Don’t fear, there are ways to more reliably identify and predict who will be a good leader. How? Using scientifically validated and reliable personality assessments. The characteristics listed above are rooted in one’s natural personality and doesn’t change that much over time. Send me an email I would be glad to discuss your options, for internal or external leaders.