Close Menu

    Dec 02, 2020    |   Camille Labrie

Leadership Selection – Be Prepared to Do Some Digging

The case for using multiple assessments in your leadership selection efforts

Written by Justin M. Deonarine, I/O Psychologist with Psychometrics Canada.

The leadership industry is a multi-trillion-dollar industry in North America alone, and I’m not exaggerating. Consider this: How many leaders do you know? How many leaders are in your organization? How many leaders are there in national or multi-national organizations? That’s a lot of leaders. Considering salaries alone can push this number into the trillions of dollars.

What’s the cost of poor leadership? It’s certainly much, much greater than the cost of employing leaders, as their impacts are wide-spread throughout the organization. These costs are becoming more visible as we learn more about the qualities of effective organizations. For example, leadership can greatly impact the mental well-being of employees, which results in challenges such as disengagement and turnover.

When conducting leadership selection, we also need to consider this important factor: Leadership isn’t for everyone, and this is perfectly fine! We need specialists and experts, and it’s better to be in a position that you enjoy and thrive in, rather than trying to fit yourself into a leadership role without the tools to succeed.

It goes without saying that hiring a new leader is an important (and tough) decision.

  • A wrong decision can cost hundreds of thousands of immediately observable costs (e.g. salary) and easily overlooked costs (e.g. cost of hiring, morale impact, turnover). This is definitely a decision that you don’t want to get wrong.
  • Hiring teams often struggle to find a consensus on what they need in a new leadership hire. When considering both organizational factors and the needs of those around them, each person’s perspective can be drastically different.
  • Leadership candidates are often much harder to evaluate than individual contributor positions. They have more experience writing effective resumes and performing well in interviews. They have likely taken a number of personality assessments by this point, and can try to put their best foot forward for each of them.

How can you overcome these challenges? I’m an advocate for data-driven decision-making, especially when it comes to hiring. And my reason is very simple: More information allows you to consider multiple perspectives about a candidate. This allows you to make a better (or more informed) decision, and improves the chances of finding a suitable candidate.

What factors should you consider when evaluating a leader (beyond whether or not their experience is suitable for the role)?

  • If they don’t have the right personality traits, they will struggle to interact with others and support their team.
  • If they can’t solve problems, they will struggle to make decisions.
  • If they don’t know how to handle common management and leadership scenarios, they will struggle to lead effectively.

In my experience with helping organizations hire leaders, I’ve found that combining personality, cognitive ability and situational judgement assessments ensures that I’m addressing the factors above. For example, the candidate may perform well on the cognitive abilities assessments and may look like a fit from the personality perspective, but may struggle with the situational judgement tasks. This provides a unique consideration for the hiring team, and can also be used to build a customized on-boarding program for the new leader.

In the end, success in hiring a leader is defined by finding the right person for the role (and being prepared for their on-boarding), not just finding any person for the role.

We’re more aware and more informed about the candidates that we’re bringing on. We know them better. We have a depth of understanding about them that we didn’t have before we had this element within our process. We have also made better hiring decisions. I also think it’s a way to engage our leaders, and to really understand the person they are bringing on to a greater depth. It gives them a different perspective and I think it’s really helpful to have Justin walk through it and explain how certain things tie together. It gives them a greater understanding of the candidate, and I don’t think everyone would necessarily see these perspectives if we didn’t have this.

– Client testimonial about in-depth leadership assessments offered by Psychometrics Canada