Understanding common leadership “derailers” and their solutions can help recruiters ensure executive-level candidates don’t fall off or bounce, advises a leadership consultant.

Having insight into which candidates possess these traits enables recruiters to develop support plans, meaning clients can still hire them without “crippling” their teams, Corrinne Armour told Shortlist.

“It’s providing the hiring managers with a candidate list with real insight, with flags and potential [ideas about], ‘here’s how you might want to think about addressing this’. So the hiring manager sees they’re working with someone who really does understand leadership and understands people,” she says.

“Understanding leadership derailers can become the reason your clients come to you. Hiring people is always a risk, but hiring them with good advice, strong insight, and a support plan reduces that risk.

“Ensure a win/win for all by assisting the hiring manager to provide real-time coaching and performance feedback that acknowledges, elevates and leverages inside intentions, and develops the candidate in the workplace.”

According to Armour, 12 common leadership “derailers” and their signs include:

  1. Analysis paralysis – Delays taking action, is perceived as blocking progress, and misses deadlines or opportunities;
  2. Command and control – Is highly directive, and stifles initiative and innovation;
  3. “Bull at a gate” – Is in a hurry to achieve results, leaves destruction and disengagement in their wake;
  4. Can’t delegate – Hoards work and responsibility to the detriment of themselves and their team;
  5. Conflict averse – Is reluctant to face tough conversations and situations, which creates challenging team dynamics;
  6. Indecisive – Has unclear direction, allowing work to bottleneck to the frustration of other team members;
  7. Closed to other ideas – Is reluctant to consider new ideas or input from others;
  8. Unable to innovate – Prefers the status quo and has a low focus on innovation;
  9. Prone to micromanagement – Supervises excessively and is perceived as stifling and untrusting;
  10. Shows no emotion – Prefers direct verbal communication and is frustrated by inference and reading between the lines;
  11. Poor people skills – Prioritises accomplishing tasks over people and relationships; and
  12. Poor strategic thinking – Reacts to daily pressures and is buried in the day-to-day, unable to hold the broader, strategic view.

How to determine if candidates with these traits are employable

Armour advises recruiters to follow a three-stage process to assess whether candidates who possess one or more of these traits are suitable for the role:

  • Seek to understand the intention behind the derailing behaviour.A candidate with poor people skills, for example, might just be bad at reading social cues, which employers can fix with training, Armour says.”But if I’m quite good at reading social cues, but I’m not willing to focus on them because my belief is emotions don’t belong in the workplace and you should keep your emotions out of here, then that’s a different conversation. So we really need to understand what’s the intention behind the derailing behaviours,” she says;
  • Question the candidate about their self-awareness to determine their “coachability”.Once recruiters have identified a strong positive intention behind the derailing behaviour, they need to determine whether the candidate will take advice, listen to feedback and try to grow, Armour says.”Just even saying to people, ‘how do you learn? What’s some good feedback you’ve gotten in the last year and what have you done with that?’ Most recruiters would have a question or two along those lines in their repertoire”; and
  • Create an “indicative development plan”.This doesn’t need to be a full plan; it’s an indication of development areas the client can focus on during the first three months of the candidate’s employment, Armour says.”If you understand, ‘what’s the intention behind this behaviour and are you coachable?’ then that means that candidate [who answers] ‘yes’ to those questions… can be on the selection list and with some insight from the recruiter… then can become a competitive advantage,” she says.

First published in, 20 January 2016


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