Why recruiting the best leaders is more important than ever

by Rachel Hannan

Many employers over the last few months have, understandably, pulled up the drawbridge on new hires. However, as we move into the next phase more and more organisations are starting to look ahead at how they will need to change and adapt in the medium and longer term, and what kind of new roles, skills and leaders, might be required.

Employers have been affected in different ways over the last few months. Some organisations, for example those delivering essential goods and services, have been busier than usual. They will already have had to adapt and potentially redeploy or increase their workforce in certain areas, at the same time as changing working patterns to safeguard employees. Others, such as charities and many businesses, will have faced significant downturns in income and still face huge uncertainties about when and at what speed the recovery will come.

As we emerge from lockdown, getting back to ‘business as usual’ may well not look like it did pre Covid-19, and this may not necessarily be a bad thing. Adapting to the ‘new normal’ of how we work, live and think, will impact on many elements of how our organisations operate. It’s also an opportunity for us to rethink more broadly, and make real progress in areas such as inclusion, diversity, sustainability and the environment.

There are likely to be new demands and priorities. For some companies they may need to pivot or refine what they offer or the markets they serve, in order to adapt to the changing landscape, not to mention changing cultural and employee expectations. Other organisations too may need to respond to new strategic drivers and reconfigure what they do and how they do it. All of this will place huge demands on leaders, with ‘effective’ leadership more than ever needing to encapsulate empathy, humility and inclusion as key drivers, as well as vision, clarity and resilience.

Amidst all the uncertainly and pressure we cannot forget the importance of looking after our teams. Treating people, all people, right, and offering support and development opportunities has to be a key aim. Not just because we have a clear duty of care for their wellbeing in such unprecedented times, but also because we will need as much continuity, resilience, capacity and commitment as possible to support our efforts going forward. Put simply, if we want our employees to do their best for us, we need to do our best for them.

Leaders are at the forefront of setting the example, and the pressure on them to provide this level of care, as well as navigate change & uncertainty, provide direction and innovate, is greater than ever. As is the cost of making the wrong leadership hire, or the wrong promotion.

Whatever situation you’re in, recruiting new or replacement hires, especially at a senior level,  is likely to feel like a big investment at the moment, and the importance of getting it right even greater than usual.

If we do not reappraise our recruitment processes, and within them how we assess the elements that are most important in the leaders we need now, we are not just missing an opportunity, but also risking appointing ‘more of the same’ in a world that needs a different type of leadership.

Previously many organisations focused on specific experience, sector or market knowledge and skills when assessing candidates’ suitability for a role. While these are undoubtedly still important, in the new normal the right behaviours, attitudes and approaches from leaders have the potential to be far more significant in delivering higher levels of performance and wellbeing in their teams. Are they resourceful and resilient, but also authentic, inclusive and consistent? Can they cope with uncertainty and enhance their team’s readiness for change? Will they galvanise, include and motivate people, and build engagement and wellbeing? Or will they default to micro-management under pressure, or become paralysed by ambiguity and the constant need to make tough decisions?

Assessing a leader’s behaviours against those that have been proven to have the biggest impact on the performance, engagement and wellbeing of their team can give real insight into how they will perform in post.

Real World Group’s Performance Leader Identifier (PLI) has been designed to do just this, and is an evidence-based tool designed for senior level recruitment and promotion. It is different to traditional selection tools given it assesses these proven behaviours. It does not focus on personality, given personality accounts for only around 5% of an employee’s job success.

It’s no use using outdated historical norms that are likely to disadvantage some leaders and ultimately your organisation. So the PLI is also based on a contemporary and inclusive leadership model, with research showing the PLI dimensions reduce bias & create a fairer process for diverse candidates. In short it assesses ‘what leaders do’ not ‘who they are’, reducing the likelihood of women and candidates from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds being disadvantaged.

If you want to know more about the PLI and how it can help you select or promote the right leaders get in touch at hello@realworld-group.com or visit https://www.realworld-group.com/selection-tool/