In my experience, top performers get there through understanding their deficiencies and then doing the hard work of correcting them. Aptitude and natural talent gives some people an initial advantage, but it doesn’t last. The question then becomes, “What’s the best way to develop talent?”

This blog post suggests that for leaders the development power is in their hands. Note how the description of successful leaders follows the same model of developing other talent: Leaders with a high learning orientation are seen as being more successful.

There are practical implications of learning orientation for valid selection and development of leaders:

  • Learning orientation can be evaluated via valid pre-employment tests (Openness to New Experiences is a good place to start), assessment centers (evaluating inquisitiveness during exercises), and behavioral interviewing (development steps the person has already taken). This allows for the conscious choice of bringing in (or promoting) leaders who are driven by learning.
  • Allow leaders to choose their develop plan rather than use a cookie cutter approach. Those who use their own observations and other data (such as 360 feedback or employee engagement survey results) to develop their own path have a strong learning orientation and should be encouraged. Those who do not use the data and are content are letting you know that they have no plans to improve themselves (or your organization).

For more information on validated pre-employment testing and leadership development, please contact Warren Bobrow.