One of the biggest challenges organisations face today is identifying the next generation of leaders.

All too often, when we ask business leaders how they know if someone has potential or talent for leadership, the most common answers are “Well, you just know” or “I know it when I see it”. While there are clearly some highly intuitive people, who are capable of spotting true potential by following their instincts, most people are less intuitive than they think, which causes two big problems.

The first is that the wrong people get selected or promoted into leadership positions. This happens in every organisation, including companies that invest a great deal of money in talent management.

The second is that the right people – those who should actually lead – get overlooked. Although these individuals possess many of the critical qualities that underpin leadership talent, for example good judgment, humility and the ability to build high-performing teams, they are generally less focused on self-promotion, networking and political manoeuvring. The result is a paradoxical system where the drivers of leadership emergence are not just different, but often the opposite of the drivers of leadership effectiveness. What gets you there won’t make you effective; what makes you effective won’t get you there.

The challenge for businesses is clear. It is to end up with more true positives and less false positives, as well as increasing the true negatives while reducing the false negatives. Although there is no single recipe for achieving this, transitioning from intuitive to scientific talent identification via psychometric assessment will do the trick and have a big return on investment.

It is commonly acknowledged that interviews alone are not a good indicator or employee potential. For example, psychopathic and narcissistic individuals tend to perform well on selection interviews, and they are often described as charming and charismatic by their supervisors. Scientific personality assessments are immune to these manipulation tactics so they highlight the true risks associated with such candidates.

The premise is simple: who you are determines how you lead. And if you are placed in the right role, your personal style and values will become an important career and organisational weapon – because talent is personality in the right place.

Adapted from article by Dr Tomas Chamorro Premuzic 2017