"The Scarcest Resource of All"

A recent article by Ray Atkinson
Managing Director, The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd.

Talented people can be found anywhere and everywhere in an organisation. However it is also clear that there are some people who can be at a distinct disadvantage, particularly in activities like Assessment & Development Centres.

In one of our recent studies following on from our research into ''whether excellent technical specialists can make excellent leaders'', we came upon an interesting observation. Although organisations were very keen to find talented people amongst their specialists, many of their assessment / development centre activities, were using role-plays and case studies that were solely business-based.

This meant that candidates from certain functions (eg marketing, strategy development, operations management etc.), who already had a sound commercial understanding and maybe a business degree, were not particularly challenged. Whereas others, from a more "technical" background (e.g. software developers, engineers, accountants etc.), were not performing as well.

In our view, it is essential to run these exercises on a level playing field, otherwise some candidates with raw talent may be accidentally overlooked. The objective is not to test a candidate's business knowledge or how many "models" they can apply, but to see how they will naturally think and act in leadership situations.

Therefore to ensure that this happens where we have a mix of candidates, we use three tailored exercises to assess people's core transferable "thinking" and "doing" qualities:

  • A "neutral" discussion topic that involves problem analysis, creative thinking and decision-making.

  • A non-business role-play exercise, designed to assess temperament that involves goal orientation, adaptability and emotional intelligence.

  • A focused interview about challenges that have been successfully and unsuccessfully completed. Here we are interested in what contributed to success and what has been learnt from the less successful example.

    In advance of the event, an ideal starting point is role profiling using our Rolescope® process. From this we learn enough about the leadership context to create exercises that are appropriate for everyone and provide absolute clarity around future personal development priorities and career direction.

    For more information, contact Sue Bell at: sue@wadenhoeconsultancy.com.

  • The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd

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