New study improves leadership selection

November 6, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

Organisations have traditionally relied on interviews, reference checks and a range of personality and ability tests to make recruitment and selection decisions.  In a world first, researchers at the Australian School of Business (UNSW) have discovered that leadership success can be determined simply by the way an individual responds to a difficult information processing task.

Lead researcher, Michael Collins, found that a leader’s tendency to make cautious versus risky decisions can be determined by the way they respond to a difficult maths test.  Furthermore, this response style accurately predicts strong negative emotions and performance in ambiguous, uncertain or challenging leadership roles.

Michael’s study involved 350 managers who completed an innovative on-line information processing task under time pressure.  Feedback on current performance was collected from over 1,000 raters including next-level managers and team members.  The response style used by managers during this task significantly and reliably predicted the following workplace outcomes:

  • How proficient, adaptable and proactive they were at an individual, team and organisational level
  • Their tendency to take self-directed action to anticipate or initiate workplace change
  • How well they contributed to team effectiveness above and beyond their own performance
  • How well they achieved the performance requirements of their role

The on-line task used in this study was significantly more effective at predicting leadership success than traditional personality and ability tests.  These findings have important implications when selecting leaders for difficult, challenging or stressful roles.

Current recruitment and selection methods rely heavily on how individuals answer interview questions and personality tests.  However, both provide unreliable results when individuals are actively seeking employment or promotion opportunities – people tend to overstate their strengths and understate their weaknesses.  The technique used in this study eliminates this bias because an individual’s response style reflects their performance on an objective task – not their self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses.

Further information about this research is available from Michael Collins or by downloading the following summary: Neurocognitive Leadership Theory (Michael Collins, 2013).

Filed in: Newsletter | Tags: ,

Leave a Reply