It’s not easy to find and assess the leaders of tomorrow from within your own business. In the second of three posts, Jenny Straumers, lead consultant in the Cirrus talent team, outlines the challenges and suggests a few solutions.

My last post outlined the capabilities leaders need to be successful in the uncertain and unpredictable times we find ourselves in, both now and in the future. This post goes into more depth as to how you can measure or assess your leaders against these capabilities. This will ensure you identify those who can make your organisation thrive in the future.

What are the barriers to finding and assessing leadership talent?

Cirrus talent challenges

So, how do you overcome these challenges?

The best way to find your talent is to combine internal and external methodologies. Internally it’s about getting the right system in place with clearly defined measures of performance and potential. You need to be clear on what you are looking for – what does future talent look like in your organisation and why? This will help shape your measures. While there’ll be some universal elements that leaders will need going forward – as discussed in my previous post – don’t forget that some of these can be unique to your sector or industry.

This shouldn’t be just a HR initiative; engage the wider business in driving it. We believe that the best combination is internal data through talent and performance reviews, with clear guidance to line managers as to what to look for and how. Being really clear and engaging your line managers in how to spot potential will ensure you feed this through the organisation. Nine-box grids are often used, but don’t always work well as they are more about traditional performance and hierarchy. Therefore, it’s important to validate with external assessment.

What makes external validation work?

It’s important to rely on reliable and valid measures. There are many different psychometric tools around and choosing the right ones for your need is crucial. Don’t expect that you’ll find the holy grail from an off-the-shelf or online product only. The interaction between performance and potential is complex and it’s important to take a holistic view of individuals; the assessment should allow for a rounded view and triangulation of data.

At Cirrus, we do this primarily through psychological profiling interviews. In these sessions we explore individual drivers, aspirations, capabilities and potential, and other key factors. We combine this with a range of psychometrics, such as personality and ability tools. In some instances, we also add other exercises – it depends on the situation and what you’re aimimg to achieve.

Lastly, don’t forget the importance of the participant experience! You want to keep your talent engaged while working to identify them. In addition, ensure you use the data to drive other initiatives, such as leadership development.

The final step to consider in ensuring your organisation has the future leaders it needs, is creating the conditions to nurture and retain leadership talent. I’ll look at that in more detail in my next post.

Read Jenny’s previous post on identifying the leadership capabilities you need.

Discover more about leadership assessment at Cirrus

Listen to Jenny and our head of talent Nadine Smart talking about how to assess tomorrow’s leaders

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