Dr. Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates, Showcases How the Power of Assessments Contributes to Great Leadership

To help you navigate the ins and outs of assessments, Dr. Kimberly Janson explains how a well-designed assessment process will help you find the most promising leadership candidates  

Doesn’t it feel like a victory when you discover a trade secret that reduces risk and increases the odds of success? Did you know there is a science to selecting leadership candidates, and many businesses are missing out on opportunities to capitalize on the science?

Selecting the wrong candidate for a leadership role can cost an organization, on average, six to seven figures – or more. Worse, one wrong choice about a leadership candidate can cost far more in employee turnover and loss of employee morale.  

Have you heard the term “derailer?” Even though a person may have been high-performing in a former support role, leadership candidates with derailing personality traits have trouble creating followership. If they are painful introverts, exceedingly self-focused, highly critical, volatile, or detail-oriented to the extreme, these derailers are often polarizing and create distance as well as incredible frustration in dealing with people with these attributes.

I consulted Dr. Kimberly Janson, CEO and President of Janson Associates, a highly sought-after business coach and consultant. She works with organizations to provide a variety of business solutions, including planning for, assessing, and selecting leadership candidates who are in possession of the traits a leader needs in order to be a successful, good fit for an organization. 

“Decision-makers, the people at the top of the house when it comes to hiring and promoting within organizations, need to be better at determining leadership potential,” says Dr. Janson. “To do this work well, it’s best to leverage proven resources to help leaders be more predictive of who will be strong leaders. When they rely on science and experts to help them understand the predictive criteria that they should look for in leadership candidates, they can become more proficient in the selection process. In doing so, the time and money they spend in developing the leadership capabilities of the people who possess the right components will be a smart and promising investment that can have far-reaching positive effects organization-wide.”

To facilitate the search for leadership candidacy, Dr. Janson is a strong proponent of using assessments. This is where science comes into play. Dr. Janson has worked to cultivate an extremely informed perspective fueled by 25+ years of practical experience around the world operating at the highest levels of organizations in addition to more than 20 years of schooling. Along with an extensive work history in executive-level positions working with H. J. Heinz, Bank of America, Hasbro, and Bank of Boston, two Master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. in Business, through Janson Associates, she continues to offer clients everything she has learned academically and professionally. 

Dr. Janson has done extensive research on talent management and leadership potential. She is about to launch her new book, Determining Leadership Potential, Powerful Insights to Winning at the Talent Game. Although she refers to assessments in almost every chapter, she spotlights and shares her best discoveries about the science behind assessments and tools in a fully dedicated chapter on these subjects. She and her co-author, Dr. Melody Rawlings, have also created a website to provide companion resources for the book where more information on assessments can be found – determiningleadershippotential.com.

“We found that we can most accurately predict potential when using a combination of tools to assess and develop high potentials,” says Dr. Janson. “Our preference is to use a multi-trait, multi-method (MTMM) approach, including a custom 360-degree instrument for internal candidates that encapsulates the priority behaviors and competencies specifically for an organization. We call this the outside-in perspective. We then will combine that with the Hogan Assessment, the DiSC for behavioral preferences understanding, the Wonderlic for cognitive assessment, and a learning agility assessment such as the Burke Learning Agility Inventory.”

Let’s elaborate – A 360 Degree instrument allows multiple raters that surround the employee (superiors, peers, and customers) to provide perspective on specific attributes. DecisionWise is Dr. Janson’s preferred instrument. It is reasonably priced and offers a custom 360 created to fit an organization. This allows people to fully understand how others are experiencing them. Even better than a quantitative/survey-based approach is a qualitative approach that entails someone conducting interviews to create a custom report. That strategy REALLY gets to the specific traits or behaviors that hold an individual back from higher levels of success. 

Dr. Janson favors the Hogan assessment because of its comprehensiveness and usefulness in predicting job success. More than 10 million executives have taken the Hogan. At least 75% of the Fortune 500 companies globally use its three components as an executive assessment for high potential assessment and executive development, including:

  • MVPI – Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory examines primary beliefs and values. Components that it measures are recognition, power, hedonism, altruism, tradition, security, commerce, aesthetics, and science affiliation.
  • HPI – Hogan Personality Inventory measures personality across common behavioral patterns for leaders at the senior levels, including adjustment, ambition, sociability, interpersonal sensitivity, prudence, inquisitiveness, and learning approach. 
  • HDS – Hogan Development Survey measures the ways in which we will derail when we are stressed, tired, hungry, etc. by examining 11 traits, including excitable, skeptical, cautious, reserved, leisurely, bold, mischievous, colorful, imaginative, diligent, and dutiful. 

It is the combination of understanding where you land on these vital components and also the comparison to the norm that provides tremendous self-awareness and in turn, can better inform your choices of how you show up.

DiSC uses a scale to assess degrees of dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness, provides a high-level understanding of preferences, and indicates observable behaviors, preferences, how people approach challenging situations, communication preferences, and approaches to problem-solving. It’s also great for teams to leverage in an effort to understand each other to better work together.

Wonderlic measures cognitive ability through questions relating to simple math, basic logic, language comprehension, spatial reasoning, pattern identification, and more that become increasingly difficult to answer as the test progresses. As a big football fan – especially New England Patriots – Dr. Janson is quick to point out that this tool is used by the NFL to assess cognitive capabilities in quarterbacks. 

This is a lot to digest, which explains why Dr. Janson is in such demand. Among a vast array of specialties, assisting organizations with assessments is part of her bailiwick. If, like me, you realize that even if you were able to assess employees, you would lack the skills to know what to do with the data once you have it, fear not. Dr. Janson encourages you to enroll the support of a guide, brave the discomfort, and forge ahead in assessing proficiently. “It is like anything else – with focused study, time allocated, and practice, you can become more proficient and comfortable. It’s like improving your golf swing. Commit yourself to it. The pay-off will be tremendous,” says Dr. Janson. “You will identify qualified, high-performing leadership candidates who are fully capable of motivating and inspiring others as role models with learning agility and ultimately have positive return on your business results.” Dr. Janson smiles as she adds, “It’s a critical competency because high potentials are the folks with big enough engines to grow and change with an organization and get big things done.”

Dr. Janson has decades of experience offering expertise in organizational transformation, premier executive coaching, leadership consulting, assistance with merger and acquisition, cultural transformation, strategic planning, team optimization, and organizational development to top-tier leaders in organizations of all sizes in all stages of development. She has worked on the ground in more than 40 countries and is in the know about what C-Suite teams are searching for in leadership candidates. 

Dr. Janson’s first book, Demystifying Talent Management, is a rich resource for leaders at every level. Her new book, Determining Leadership Potential, is now available for pre-sale. Learn more about Dr. Janson at Janson Associates.

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