Sugar, spice or nothing nice?
By ELISA DASS AVIN
In recent times, we have seen how dangerous it has become for an organisation or community to support a leader whose capability, integrity and capacity are not truly known.
When it involves high positions such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer, chief financial officer, or other C-suite positions, a wrong choice of leaders can lead to disastrous results such as loss of direction, disengaged culture, slumping profits, or even threats of bankruptcy for the organisation.
At times like these, we start to wonder why the leader was placed in such a position in the first place?
Do we (truly) know our leaders?
The truth that many hiring managers want to admit is, in a country such as Malaysia, there are still many who obtain a job or promotion because they were eloquent at interviews or had the favour of key decision-makers.
Of course, they performed at least satisfactorily to be even considered in the first place, but it is arguable if their performance is good enough for their new role.
Not many may gain their position solely based on their capability for the role. Worse, in a highly negative work culture organisation, some leaders may promote others who serve their own personal agenda, rather than that of the larger organisation.
So the question beckons, why is this person in this position? Does he deserve this role?
How do we minimise, if not eliminate, such disastrous recruitment or promotion in an organisation, especially at a strategic level where key decision-makers are positioned?
I personally can’t think of anything better than non-biased, objective assessments.
The wrong fit really hurts
The practice of assessment centres have been around for a very long time and dates back into the 1940s when the British war office selection board used various activities to assess candidates before recruiting them as army officers.
The use of this may not be unfamiliar to many leaders.
However, despite its obvious advantages, it is sometimes not given the importance it should because of the time and resources required as well as the fear of how the candidates would respond.
However, leaders sometimes forget to consider the fact that putting someone in the wrong fit not only affects the direct role, but may sometimes affect the revenue/profits and survival of the entire organisation. This is true for leaders at every level of the organisation.
Do your people have what it takes?
When running an organisation or team, especially in challenging times such as these, wise CEOs want to ensure that the commanders under their charge not only have the technical capabilities, but also share the same values, work attitude and competencies he/she deems as important for the organisation.
It is easy sometimes to fall for the convincing words of different leaders who may say they possess what it needs.
But do they really when the rubber meets the road? This is where a good assessment centre can simulate the toughest situation and assess these key qualities that are important to the organisation.
Know who you really need in your team
We hire people we like. But do we need them in our team? At times, we need one or two who dare to voice their disagreements to keep decisions well-balanced.
Before jumping onto the bandwagon of sending people to assessment centres, leaders need to know what are the key knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that they require from people in the organisation.
This, a lot of times falls back to the competency model that the organisation has, as well as the organisational values that the larger family upholds to.
A success profile can be drawn up for the roles that will be assessed. It is dangerous when we do not start with the end in mind as to what kind of personality would do best in each specific role.
More important is what the leader can do. How does he do it? Is it with integrity? Is it done without slaying his people? Is it innovation? Will he execute, or does it stop at ideas?
These are key questions that must be answered. And sometimes just verbal interview answers do not suffice.
One of the best ways we can see a person’s true self is when they are placed in a simulated situation where high pressure is applied through various interesting interventions to see how well an individual performs under such circumstances.
The result from an assessment centre will be one that is very objective as it is from someone who doesn’t know the candidate personally and has a set of specific characteristics to look out for.
Such information is key when it comes to deciding who can be entrusted with key roles and in succession planning.
The final assessment report also helps to identify the very specific areas that needs development, and investments can be targeted towards refining that niches.
Needless to say, an objective assessment will also help you identify the superstars among your leaders.
This is crucial information for crucial times when we can’t afford to make business and people mistakes.
Today is a good time to start
Take five minutes to stop and think of the key leaders in your team. Do you really know what they are made of?
What will they do when there is a crisis caused by their departments? Will they admit to the mistakes and take responsibility or will they shift the blame?
What will your leaders do when revenue drops? Will they go out of their way to make sure things happen, although they are leading a cost-centre?
When there is a fight for a top position, how will they fight it out? With integrity based on their capabilities or do they do whatever it takes to win?
Do you know what kind of leaders you want? More importantly, do you have them? What are your leaders made of?
Remember, not everything sugary and spicy is definitely nice. But it is surely crucial to find out!
Elisa Dass Avin believes there is a place for every leader, but no one is a leader for every place. Her experience in assessment centres has shown her evidence of how important it is to know your people and how it can benefit the individual as well as the organisation. She is currently the director of Learning & Acceleration in Leaderonomics and would love to hear your thoughts on this. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Be A Leader articles, click here.
Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for Leaderonomics.com, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader’s Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.