Even when a leader has a well-defined reputation it’s wise to take a deeper look into what lies behind it. Companies can read too much into current performance or comfort in a role. They can underestimate the impact of contextual factors, particularly when they have highly accountable cultures.
Leaders rarely have either ‘horns or halos’ and so they usually have their share of strengths and weaknesses. Companies need to know their nature and origins in order to get the best from their leaders and enable them to achieve their potential.
Below are some examples of how we add value when profiling and developing leaders, or when advising on whether to recruit or promote them.
Motivations and Energy
We explore the values of leaders and what drives them. This often results in their finding a deeper sense of purpose and greater clarity about how they can shape the company's growth. It can provide extra motivation to improve their leadership skills, for example in delegation and coaching. We can help leaders to gain insight into what may have stopped them from achieving their potential. Such outcomes are valuable when a company needs its leaders to aspire to greater things, to execute strategy more urgently, to create more engagement around them, or to demand higher operating standards.
Judgement and Decision-Making
Intelligence is valuable in proportion to the complexity of a leader's situation and challenges, being a predictor of success in strategically sensitive roles, and so we assess it. Also vital are a leader's responses to ambiguity, their openness to learning, their integrity and rationality under pressure, and their ability to draw on other people's thinking. We explore a leader’s decision-making style and how it varies by situation. By profiling a leader’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses, we can increase the chances that the leader will get key judgements right. We expect to provide more insight into a leader’s potential as a decision maker than is apparent from current performance.
Leaders will usually have a reputation for how well they deliver results, and we explore its foundations. It may depend on experience or on applying a standard formula. It may come from intellectual agility or from being open to truths that others would find unwelcome. What it comes from can determine a leader’s ability to manage change and ambiguity, to learn quickly or to operate flexibly. If a leader is in a challenging transition, we can help the company to manage the risks and to achieve its required gains.
Relationships and Networks
First impressions can carry too much weight in building reputations. Many of the most effective leaders are introverts despite conventional wisdom. Being an extravert is not necessarily an asset for making a positive impact on other people. We evaluate the first impression a leader would make, but we explore interpersonal capability beyond this. We can help a leader to develop productive working relationships earlier and more broadly, and so increase the social capital that many companies rely on.
We assess how leaders talk about their impact on colleagues compared to how other people are really likely to experience them. This enables us to give feedback on their self-awareness and how colleagues would judge their personal qualities or authenticity. This is powerful when backed with data from psychometrics or 360 surveys. We help leaders to make effective use of such feedback in development planning and in changing their behaviour towards others.
Building Bench Strength
We explore how a leader defines talent, and how they would distinguish between high performance and high potential. Through this and by assessing a leader's approach to team-building, we can help a leader to create the diversity that progressive companies value and leads to higher performance. We can also help a leader build a coaching culture, which can have a big impact on performance over time.