Learning & Development, Recruiting, Talent

A Response to Change: Assessing Executive Candidates and Arming Incumbents for Organizational Success

The events of 2020 have served as a catalyst for change in many areas of our lives. As individuals, we have been forced to think, act, and interact with one another differently. As organizations, we are propelled to establish more inclusive, agile, and flexible workplaces. Making such adaptations at an accelerated pace is no small undertaking and falls heavily in the hands of organizational leaders, and a nimble response will separate leaders who thrive from those frozen in the headlights.

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In the future of work, which has gotten here more quickly than most anticipated, the leadership skills that were traditionally important are still important; however, leaders now need to acquire new skill sets and sharpen those they already have.

This includes learning to manage teams in nontraditional work environments and demonstrating inclusivity, resilience, emotional intelligence, adaptability, and empathy. Thus, it is imperative for organizations to assess and hire wisely and develop the skills of their incumbent leaders so they are well-armed for turbulent times.

Hiring Wisely at the Executive Level

Given the weight that is placed on executive-level leaders’ shoulders and the significance of the decisions that are theirs to make, it is crucial to have full confidence in a candidate when extending a job offer. Such assurance can be gained, in part, by leveraging an executive assessment process that incorporates a battery of well-researched, valid assessments (also called psychometric tests) and an assessor who integrates the assessment results.

Through the executive assessment process, which often targets cognitive ability, personality, and learning agility, light is shed on candidates’ natural tendencies at work, along with their strengths, leadership derailers, and potential developmental opportunities.

Furthermore, as a result of the assessors’ building relationships with (and growing knowledge of) the organizations they partner with, they are able to speak to a candidate’s role and cultural fit and identify any gaps that may not have been apparent in earlier phases of the hiring process. 

During these tumultuous times, hiring an executive-level candidate because it “feels right” will simply no longer do. Selecting leaders who excel in scientifically proven competencies critical for role success is more important than ever before. Thus, companies must reflect upon their current assessment processes and ask: 

  • Are we measuring the skills and competencies that are important for our leadership roles?
  • How well do our assessments target the specific competencies that are critical for our unique organizational context?
  • Do our assessment solutions measure what is important for our organization’s culture and performance?

Develop Strong Leadership

You have the right person in the right role—now what? The next question is, what are you doing to develop new and incumbent leaders and set them up for future success? Regardless of the leadership competencies your organization has identified to prosper, there are several effective ways to develop them. One method that has proven to be invaluable is one-on-one executive coaching.

Every executive worldwide has endured the world’s recent challenges differently, on both a personal and a professional level. Similarly, all executives have unique tendencies and skill sets that have helped them navigate the new workplace to the best of their ability.

Just as executives’ leadership approaches are tailored, their coaching sessions should be, too. Through a series of one-on-one, tailored sessions, executive coaches serve as the springboard that helps leaders go further than they have ever gone before by helping them embrace their strengths and recognize opportunities for development. Remember, if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with someone!

In the coaching process, once objectives are set, executive coaches can customize the approach, developmental technique, and process to best suit each participant’s needs and ensure alignment with each organization’s culture and objectives. The final outcome? Skill gaps are closed, bench strength is built, performance is heightened, and the confidence leaders obtain in their role is priceless. 

  • Do your leaders have the necessary skills for leading through crises and recovery periods?
  • How do you ensure your leaders feel empowered to face changes directly while feeling supported to make decisions in a calm, rational manner?
  • Do you have the right interventions to support your leaders and help them understand what they need and how to accomplish their goals in their new job context?
  • How are you facilitating your executives’ development journeys and empowering them to grow without explicitly directing them on the way?
  • Are you encouraging a proactive culture of continuous professional development, or are your leaders solely focused on reacting to the day-to-day challenges? 

In light of the ongoing financial crisis, organizations question whether they can afford to invest in their executive-level leaders. The real question is, however, how can they afford not to?

Lindsay K. Beers, M.Sc., works within the Talent Solutions group at PSI Services. She specializes in the implementation of assessments, programs, and initiatives that identify, retain, develop, and align leadership talent. Her expertise in leadership, organizational development, and change management provides her with a unique lens to help leaders, and the organizations they operate within, maximize their effectiveness.