Scouting the Future Leaders in Your Organization
Companies want leaders who have the foresightedness, are committed and offer practical solutions, instead of taking a back seat. Not only will their passion be infectious to their teams, it also indicates they will fight for the longevity of the organization. An article from employee performances throws some light on this topic.
Ensuring a company’s long-term survival and prosperity is the underlying driver of any business; however, identifying and developing effective future leaders remains one of the most pressing issues facing companies today. Even when companies claim to have a well-armed lineup of groomed candidates available to step-up when called, the reality is that many new leaders fail spectacularly, being either ill-equipped or ill-prepared to handle the role. Although there has yet to be one perfect proven model for identifying and developing leaders, there are some assumptions and approaches that will surely fail a company. There are also ways to look at leadership potential from multiple angles in order to better the odds of identifying the right talent to lead your company well into the future.
Dangerous Assumptions to Make When Identifying Future Leaders
When it comes to identifying top talent, leadership potential, or planning for succession in an organization, it is often assumed that high performers and leadership candidates will simply make themselves known. After all, this is what we are used to. From piano recitals to city marathons, the exceptional few tend to stand out on their own so why wouldn’t this be the case in a company?
This laissez-fair assumption reminds me of a term I heard years ago: the Brazil Nut Effect. This phenomenon was noticed by distributors who transported cans of mixed nuts. They noticed that when the cans were opened after shipping, the Brazil nuts would somehow always be on the very top. Although the vessel contained 4-6 varieties of nuts, the larger Brazil nuts would always make their way up, ready to be chosen first. This had nothing to do with the order of packing but from a proven scientific process called granular convection, where smaller particles shift under larger ones when shaken, forcing the larger particles (in this case nuts) to the top. I have always loved this analogy as it implies that time and motion will just make things happen. Sadly, when it comes to choosing future leaders in an organization, companies would find themselves failing if they simply relied on the Brazil Nut Effect.
Unfortunately, high performance doesn’t always correlate with leadership potential. A CEB report noted that less than one in six high performing employees also possess potential. If a company used performance alone as an indicator of potential, they would be left with a future leadership team that might be coming up short 83% of the time.