For Senior Leaders It’s Fit or Fail

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For Senior Leaders, Fit Matters More than SkillData now show what we’ve know for a long time. When it comes to hiring senior leaders, fit trumps skills match by a mile. A recent HBR blog post, For Senior Leaders, Fit Matters More than Skill, makes this case convincingly in pointing out that “of the 40% of leaders who are hired from outside each year, nearly half fail within the first 18 months.”

These costly, disruptive mistakes can be prevented by using personality and team assessments as an integral part of considering candidates for senior leadership roles. These assessments reveal characteristics that are difficult, if not impossible, to surface through interviews. With assessments, you can tell how a candidate will behave if hired and, by assessing existing leaders within the company and comparing these assessments with the candidate’s assessment, whether these behaviors will be productive. In addition, team assessments reveal the strength of relationships within a team and how each potential candidate will impact team effectiveness.

We recommend using the Activity Vector Analysis assessment to determine the behaviors for a role that high performing leaders exhibit. You can use the Performance Research Form E to determine which leadership styles work for an organization. Finally, the Four Groups 4G assessment will help you understand the strength of team relationships and the expected impact of a new candidate on team effectiveness. Together, these assessments solve the “fit” equation.. If you use them properly, the impact will be profound as you drastically reduce your senior leaders failure rate.

Update:April 17 2014
In response to The Wall Street Journal article Making Sure the Boss Is the Right Fit

Joann, nice job. It’s all about “fit” which focuses on behaviors vs. “match” which focuses on skills. We regularly urge companies to use assessment tools to measure fit before making senior hires. See my recent blog piece, For Senior Leaders Its Fit or Fail, which makes just this point. With respect to senior executive candidates, they should insist on being assessed against the organization they are considering joining to avoid a miss-fit.

Richard Stanger

Author: Richard Stanger

Richard Stanger is a Senior Human Resources consultant and Executive Coach, who brings over 25 years of global business leadership and strategic talent experience from Global Fortune 500 corporations. Richard partners with business leaders to rapidly identify and develop talent solutions that enable their organizational objectives.

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