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The Pressure Lens Does Not Lie

As an executive your success is in large part determined by the team of leaders below you.  If you have just inherited a new team, how do you know who is a keeper and who is not?  You could employ the wait and see strategy but if time is a luxury you can’t afford and you need to quickly assess bench strength here is how you can quickly determine who the stars are.

The pressure lens does not lie.

In good times leaders can put on happy faces, hide within an organizations and it is hard identify their strengths, weaknesses and character profile.  Only when people are intensely challenged can we observe their true strengths, weaknesses and character.   To get a quick snapshot of their capabilities give them a real world business challenge to work on.  The challenge would ideally have the following characteristics:

  • Be time bounded – not too long 4-7 weeks, intense and without a guarantee of success
  • Be clear about the desired outcome but give no guidance to the best approach
  • Leave some ambiguity about the variables until asked for clarification
  • Require the cooperation of both those who work for the person and those whom are not under the direct control of the individual

What to observe:

  • Can they inspire and lead people?
  • Can they make good decisions without perfect information?
  • Do they exercise balanced temperament and judgment?
  • How mentally agile are they?
  • Are they resilient?
  • Do they listen and filter key information correctly?
  • Can they give clear direction to others?
  • Can they effectively interact with different types of people?
  • Are they respectful and collaborative?
  • Are they too impatient or passive?
  • What is their work ethic?
  • Did they receive and or provide feedback effectively?
  • Can they quickly cycle new information into learning?
  • Are they results oriented?

If they come up with a business breakthrough – great, but the important part of the exercise is the journey.  Did they respond effectively and appropriately under pressure, would people want to work with this person again to people?  Did they demonstrate any ethical or character issues? The team you surround yourself with speaks volumes about your decision making, character and business acumen.   Each leader on your team is an opportunity to strengthen or destroy your team.  Choose wisely!

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