Or are you? You know the skills necessary, but what personality type is likely to be successful? What behaviors should you focus the interview process around? What is the “emotional intelligence” of your next superstar? Just as important, how will you know it when you see it? Smart Business sat down with Mike Porter, vice president of TNS Partners and a proponent of the concept of “total evaluation.”
Could you explain what you mean by the concept of ‘total evaluation?’
‘Total evaluation’ speaks to going beyond the qualifications, experiences and competencies and ensuring that the candidate aligns with the client in terms of values. Skill-set mentality gets you about halfway through the evaluation process. Going deeper into the personality helps you determine whether or not the future executive will succeed within the environment, culture, team and structure.
Isn’t that what the skill set is supposed to help you find?
Yes and no. Defining the necessary skill set helps you determine where to go to find the person. The skills also become part of the scorecard to evaluate them against. Behavior in terms of how one leads, communicates and interacts and sense of team is critical to a person’s overall effectiveness as an executive. It is our experience that more executives fail and are terminated due to the lack of emotional intelligence and behavioral competencies as they relate to the organization than due to the inability to perform the assignment.
Is emotional intelligence (EI) the same thing as intelligence quotient (IQ)?
Not at all. In fact, for a long time people thought they were inverses of one another. IQ is generally regarded as a fixed capacity for cognitively processing data. EI is a set of learnable skills, mostly based on feelings or thoughts, for decision making and connecting well with others.
It can be a lot more complicated than this, but generally speaking, people with a high EI perceive emotion in themselves and others better, and because of this ability, they are capable of processing emotional information better. This high EI often translates to better decision making and problem solving and more effective collaboration and leadership.
So personality is more important than skill set?
No. But given two people that have the same skill set, the one that is better behaviorally aligned with the organization is much more likely to succeed.
That being said, behavioral considerations must be a primary concern for anyone attempting to add to their team. The more important the position, and the higher level of interaction involved in the role, the more important soft skills become.
Is it hard to find the right soft skills?
It is, but there are many different data points that can be used often, the more the better. First and foremost, providing a broad cross-section of the organization to interact with potential candidates early in the evaluation process is critical. Also, your team can use behavioral-based interviewing techniques to uncover these often hidden variables.
Personality assessment can be an extremely effective tool to assist the management team in quantifying an individual’s emotional intelligence.
Reference checking is critical to get a sense of how the individual has interacted in the past. Not just including former supervisors, but also peers to demonstrate teamwork, subordinates to demonstrate leadership and even outside vendors and customers to validate partnership.
Is this a role for the executive search firm?
Having done search work for decades, we have become proficient in many of these areas. But we also frequently retain the services of organizations that specialize in psychological assessments to validate what we observe during the course of our evaluation process. Because EI is the most likely indicator of individual’s success or failure in an organization, it is an absolute necessity that its evaluation be a priority in any search process. Every company must either develop the internal expertise necessary to capture this critical data or partner with an external firm capable of delivering it. Quite possibly, they should do both.
MIKE PORTER is vice president of TNS Partners in Dallas. Reach him at at (214) 369-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.