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Russia – Leadership ability determined by organisational fit, not technical skill

09 October 2013

The answers to the question ‘what factors contribute most to accelerated leadership performance?’ are of vital importance to a company's success - perhaps more now than ever, according to Felix Kugel, Vice President and Managing Director of ManpowerGroup Russia.

In an article for The Moscow Times, Mr Kugel wrote: Indeed, to succeed in today's challenging economy, organisations need employees who can function at full throttle. And to ensure they have the right leaders to get the job done, companies must not only identify the factors that lead to accelerated performance, but also assess whether current and prospective leaders need a plan for developing the factors that lead to accelerated performance.

A recent ManpowerGroup study of close to 900 senior leaders and Human Resource professionals revealed surprising insights into just what factors lead most frequently to on-the-job success. Respondents overwhelmingly pointed not to employees' technical skills, expertise, or experience; but to other, very different qualities: organisational culture and motivational fit, as well as savvy, appropriate interpersonal skills.

The number of respondents who felt that ‘organisational culture/motivational fit’ contributes most to accelerated performance was more than two-and-a-half times greater than those who pointed to ‘technical skills’ or ‘relevant experience’ as the most significant factor.

In other words, it's not what leaders know, but how they fit in the culture, are motivated by opportunities within the organisation, and interact with those around them that result in high performance.

These insights have critical implications for an organisation's overall talent management strategy - most importantly how to assess and develop high-potential leaders. While it's possible to assess current and prospective employees for all factors cited in the ManpowerGroup survey, two factors - cultural and motivational fit - involve innate characteristics that can be difficult to coach or develop.

Mr Kugel recommends that organisations consider these three steps to ensure high performance:

Pinpoint - Analyse the basic elements of their organisational culture. Before determining whether individuals have the appropriate cultural and motivational fit, companies must first determine the key attributes of their own values, such as whether the organisation prizes innovation or has a rigid chain of command. They also need to pinpoint the types of opportunities available throughout the organisation.

Assess - Assess employees for organisational culture/motivational fit and interpersonal behavioural skills. Organisations should identify a pool of high-potential leaders, both at a junior and senior level, using past performance as a starting point. Then they can assess these individuals to determine those whose values are aligned with the corporate culture and who would be most likely to enjoy high levels of job satisfaction working in leadership roles within the organisation.

Develop - Create a program to develop those leaders who make the cut. Once the most promising leaders have been identified, companies can take the next step: using assessment results to help individuals improve their interpersonal skills. That can include learning how to do everything from planning and delegating to building trust. Probably the best way to address gaps in interpersonal savvy is through coaching sessions during which people focus on appropriate behaviour in specific business situations.

According to Mr Kugel, ultimately, companies that fail to address these issues risk losing valuable talent. 

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