As my colleague Helen describes, one of the biggest challenges for HR and Talent professionals is answering the question: Who has what it takes to step up and lead our business forwards? At Kiddy & Partners, we define leadership potential as “The opportunity for significant and rapid acceleration in an individual’s ability to deliver greater value in the future”, and we see drive as one of the key elements of potential.
Assessment of an individual’s drive to achieve and desire to step up into a leadership position is one part of the complex puzzle of potential, to help determine how far and fast each individual is likely to develop over the coming months and years. So how can you assess drive, and what do you do if someone has the capability to step up but is not motivated to do so?
What is drive?
When looking at drive in relation to leadership potential, there are two components :
- Motivation to succeed – Being a leader is challenging. You need to have the motivation and perseverance to consistently deliver in difficult and ambiguous circumstances and take responsibility for achieving personal and organisational goals.
- Career ambition – Being attracted towards leadership positions is critical. Not every person with potential has the desire to lead, and leaders are often identified on capability without taking career ambition into account . Promoting people who would rather be subject matter experts into leadership positions can be detrimental to their overall engagement and satisfaction in the role .
What to do if they’re capable but unwilling?
As mentioned earlier, not everyone who is capable of being a leader is willing to be a leader. The role of a leader requires great responsibility and ownership and potentially sacrifices to work-life balance given the typical scale and intensity of the role. For an individual to be highly motivated to reach and succeed in leadership positions, there needs to be alignment between the organisation’s values and the individual’s values, motivations and career aspirations. Where there is misalignment, it’s important to delve deeper to understand where this is coming from, as motivation and drive can be nurtured to some extent.
For example, it may be that certain aspects of the leadership role, such as work-life balance, are not aligned with the individual’s values and career aspirations, in which case it may be possible to shape the role to suit. This may involve challenging assumptions about how a role is performed – what is necessary for success and what is not. Alternatively, it may be that the individual has inaccurate assumptions about a leadership role that could be addressed by providing a job preview or mentoring from someone in a more senior leadership position. As part of Kiddy’s approach to assessment and development, we identify stretching assignments that can help ignite aspirations and motivations. However, if there are misalignments between critical values of the organisation and those of the individual, the best outcome may be to accept that a leadership role is not suited for that individual – at least not at that point in time. It should be recognised that this may change over time, so keep those conversations going.
Everyone has potential, but potential for what is the critical question. The potential to be a leader requires drive – both the dedication to achieve goals by persisting in the face of challenge and adversity and the aspiration to progress into a leadership role. Kiddy & Partners have the expertise to be able to confidently assess and identify who has the potential to successfully lead in your organisation and how you can unlock that potential.