Determining Leadership Potential is the perfect resource for CEOs, including the C-Suite, and HR executives interested in attracting and developing the best leaders and talent on the market. Dr. Kimberly Janson shares secrets unearthed from her rich research and CEO interviews/surveys so that businesses can truly become “winners at the talent game!”
Businesses aren’t just entities producing products and services – their most valuable resources are the humans who generate inspiring ideas, innovation, and leadership. Mixed with a total love for business, this concept captured Dr. Kimberly Janson and motivated her to learn as much as she could about everything-business. This includes two Master’s Degrees and a Ph.D. in Business, along with more than 20 years as a senior executive at well-known successful companies. What is on her mind these days is a concern about the state of leadership around the world.
According to Dr. Janson, “The world is in crisis when it comes to leadership. We need to be better at identifying and attracting good and capable leaders. Poor leadership causes far-reaching problems in companies and has a trickle-down effect on families – our workers go home to loved ones, often bearing the wounds of hours (even years) spent in jobs directed by leaders who have no business leading people. They might look good on paper, but poor leaders can undermine the morale of whole departments – or worse. With better information and science, companies can make better leadership choices.”
According to Dr. Janson, we simply need to be better in this space. Her dissatisfaction with the lack of strong leaders and frustrated employees is so much that she’s written two books about them: Demystifying Talent Management: Unleash People’s Potential to Deliver Superior Results, and most recently with her co-author Dr. Melody Rawlings, Determining Leadership Potential: Powerful Insights to Winning at the Talent Game.
In Determining Leadership Potential, Dr. Janson digs into the science and presents the data in a readable, relatable way. The research studies conducted by Drs. Janson and Rawlings reveal that leaders within the same company are not on the same page when it comes to the way they evaluate and hire leadership candidates. Based on their research and The Leadership Blueprint, a framework emphasizing the same criteria, hiring and promotion decisions are often made in a very disconnected way, varying from one executive and manager to another, often without paying heed to the most critical elements in candidate selection, such as intelligence, personality, and learning agility.
While intelligence and personality are largely fixed, leader candidates can do something about other elements – but will they? Companies can only go so far in motivating people – the lion’s share is up to individuals and their drive. “Often companies value an employee’s past performance and are tempted to promote based on that success alone,” says Dr. Janson. “Unfortunately, unless the requirements of the new position are identical, this is not an effective predictor of leadership potential.” It is far better to rely on the science of assessments and a 360-look at the candidate, including interviews with managers, peers, and clients, to get an accurate picture of where they stand with regard to intelligence, personality, and learning agility, the factors that are true determinants of leadership potential.
When it comes to intelligence, the hard truth is we need smart leaders because the realities only become more complex the higher you go in an organization. They must be able to analyze, conceptualize, and think strategically. Intelligence is relatively easy to observe and made easier to measure using appropriate assessment tools or exercises such as case studies.
Personality involves more than the ability to show up in an engaging, friendly way in an interview setting. In the day-to-day, all of us humans have some areas we need to work on regarding personal growth. There are no perfect humans, but some have what Dr. Janson calls “derailing personality traits.” These include attitudes, ways of communicating, and behaviors that are polarizing, dividing rather than uniting teams, and inhibiting rather than promoting followership. In Dr. Janson’s opinion, “These traits are deal-breakers – personality extremes such as being too self-focused, critical, volatile, or detail-oriented. Taken to extremes, these traits can be major roadblocks to a leader’s success and create a toxic dynamic in organizations.” When a pattern of behavior reveals extremes or negative elements like the ones described, it would be beyond prudent for decision-makers to pass on a candidate.
Learning agility is another vital element to look for in leadership candidates. At its best, it will show up as the ability to adapt quickly and seamlessly to new situations, which is very important in the ever-changing and evolving world of business. They are also recognizable by their voracious appetite for new ideas and ways of thinking. “What a joy it is to work with an innovative, open-minded, adaptable leader when it comes to new projects, processes, technology, and environments,” says Dr. Janson. “Their positive and ready approach to change in the workplace makes them trustworthy and comfortable to follow as a team, especially in challenging times. How difficult it can be for team members in the absence of a leader’s ability to pivot well!”
When asked if in the face of employee shortages, decision-makers are better off just putting a warm body into a vacant position, even if not well-qualified, Dr. Janson’s response is: “It’s not better! There is so much harm done with that strategy. The insidious negative impact of the wrong body takes a great deal of time to get over. Some studies show that it takes up to two years to physically and emotionally get over a bad manager. Be courageous in your waiting! There are truly good candidates out there who are worth waiting for!”
So committed are these authors to the good fight of educating decision-makers on how to do a great job identifying future leaders that they provided free resources for companies and educational institutions through the website, https://www.determiningleadershippotential.com/. This website provides companion resources for Determining Leadership Potential.
In my interview with Dr. Janson, she was excited to share that her first book is available in a second edition. “It was time to relaunch Demystifying Talent Management because the messages are still so critical, and I added a bit more that makes it even more useful today.” She is currently working on a research study related to her transformational framework, Fast.Simple.Good.Done.TM She is inviting interested businesses to reach out to her via the Janson Associates website to be included in the study. A book under the title “Fast.Simple.Good.Done.” will be released next summer.
If you imagine Dr. Janson as a nerdy reservoir of business statistics, think again! She is a fantastic communicator, listens well, and consistently speaks truth with a business’s best interest at heart – always! When clients praise her for improvements in company growth, culture, and talent development, she quickly redirects accolades, celebrating them, as they are the ones who took the difficult steps, made the changes, and created the space for successful results – and she truly believes that! She beams with pride when she thinks about her clients’ achievements. She would tell you that she is actually at her best in her stables, cleaning stalls and feeding horses for the amazing crew of show jumpers in the family’s Legacy Farms horse business. Humility looks good on superstars, and it is impressively becoming on Dr. Janson, although she would bristle at the idea.