Accelerating Leadership Development: Diagnose Before You Prescribe

doctorSS47083A coach’s job is not over once he or she has identified high-potential athletes for the next Olympics. In fact, most of the work is still to be done. Similarly, company leaders need to know what raw talent is in their bullpens, and that’s just the beginning. They need to identify what each high-potential leader has and doesn’t have.

A critical task of the organization, therefore, is to define the set of activities that will accelerate future leaders’ development and get each ready to lead. To do that effectively and efficiently, you must identify each high-potential leader’s strengths as well as development needs and then work on areas where the high-potential leader has gaps, creating a personalized and effective development plan.

Just as a physician evaluating a new patient performs a diagnostic exam before prescribing a course of treatment, you must assess high-potential leaders to identify strengths and development needs related to competencies, knowledge, experience, and personality traits. Proper assessment should encompass behavior analysis, such as 360-degree surveys or simulations, validated personality traits inventories, and a tailored knowledge and experience review interview or questionnaire. These three assessments will generate a wholesome view of the high-potential leaders’ strengths and development needs.

Performing a diagnostic assessment enables you to select proper development solutions and increases self-awareness for the high-potential leaders.

Robert Hogan and Rodney Warrenfeltz are thought leaders in the world of leadership assessment. They approach self-awareness by asking a critical question: “What is it that one is aware of when one is self-aware?” In a nutshell, there are two answers. On the one hand, you can be aware of your identity, that is, how you think about and evaluate yourself. On the other hand, you can be aware of your reputation, that is, how others think about and evaluate your behaviors. There is a self-view, and there is one’s perceived performance evaluated by others—an inner and outer perspective. It is critical that a leader, particularly one who is part of a development process, is aware of his or her reputation as a leader and the impact of his or her behaviors. The higher the self-awareness, the more likely the leader will improve.

Increasing self-awareness is recognized as an important step in the development of a leader. It is particularly critical if there is a gap between the self-view and the reputation. The alignment of both is called self-accuracy. Leaders who are highly self-aware and “honest with themselves” will recognize their challenges and gaps and maximize their strengths.

A proper diagnostic will lead to higher self-accuracy and to the prescription of only the right development solutions, avoiding wasting time, energy, and money. Performing a good diagnostic before the prescription is a great way to accelerate leadership development.

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