My clients are CEOs, managing directors, owner/managers, general managers, middle managers, team leaders, shift managers and leading hands. Basically, they are all responsible for a result in a commercial setting.
When I first started coaching I was working in high end compliance environments – ‘governance’ i.e., local authority, government, law, finance; and ‘life-and limb’ i.e., mining, medical, aviation.
The standard leadership assessments then were either mental ability (IQ, Aptitude and Achievement inventories) or personality based inventories.
The most complex tools were the Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory (MMPI) used in the military and essential services – a mind numbing 4 hour assessment administered by a psychologist; and then more accessible profiling tools included Myers-Briggs, Melville, The Hogan Personality Inventory, DISC etc administered by trained consultants.
As good as they are I found that most people I worked with in high pressure settings felt they were ‘interesting’ but not useful or applicable under pressure situations.
What data is collected?
Importantly, many employees did not want to complete an inventory that gathered clinical data without their knowledge or consent. For example, people were worried that their reports would somehow show they were suffering anxiety or depression, data that might impact their job opportunities.
Plus the HR/employment legislation in the late 1990s early 2000s made it discriminatory to base employment on how someone completed a profile.
Under those considerations – relevance, application and consent – I created the Business Leadership Profile which generates self-reported, high grade information about leadership minus any clinical data.
The Business Leadership profile (BLP) answers the question: can you operate effectively in a leadership capacity?
It is important to note that the BLP only asks questions about commercial leadership and sets aside what we know about leadership in a sporting, military or political setting. As interesting as those insights are business or enterprise is a very different beast to say sport or the military leadership. This is why we disregarding advice from military leaders for example.
Task and Relations
Effective leadership is essentially made up of two factors: task – the ability to get results; and relations – the ability to positively influence or leverage relationships. Imagine a boat going down a river. The wake is task and relations. A good leader need a balance of those two factors.
The Five Factor Model
The BLP was influenced by the research of Costa and McCrae (1994, 1997) who identified five factors common to most profiling tools: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.
The BLP not only builds on that five factor platform but includes 36 additional traits associated with effectiveness in a commercial or organisational leadership role.
Awareness and Responsiveness
Importantly, the BLP gives a measure on the drivers that sit below task and relations – awareness and responsiveness. Highly effective leaders know what is happening, how they feel about what is happening and they typically respond appropriately. Low scores in this area are targets for training or coaching
Five factors of highly effective leaders
Serendipitously, the result of doing thousands of BLPs and feedback sessions with key managers has identified five factors of highly effective leaders:
- Aware – they are generally aware of what’s going on
- Assert – they can express that awareness assertively to others
- Agree – they can usually broker agreements around agreed outcomes
- Accountable – they can usually manage those agreements and hold others accountable
- Adjust – they typically are reflective on their own abilities and competencies and adjust accordingly
In the next part I’ll explain how the BLP works.