by Lou Adler, CEO and founder of The Adler Group
The core of every successful effort involves vision, problem-solving, planning and execution. This is the Leadership Fractal. Those that get ahead do it over and over again, getting better each time.
The way I see it, leadership has four parts:
- The ability to visualize a course of action
- Figuring out the best way to get where you’re going
- Putting a plan together to actually get there
- Getting there.
Most of us are familiar with fractals. These are geometric or mathematical patterns that repeat themselves regardless of scale. People exhibit fractals on the job repeating the same pattern of work over and over again. The best people exhibit the Leadership Fractal. This consists of the leadership set of “Vision – Problem-solving – Planning – Execution” improving in either quality or growing in scope and scale, or both.
This pattern is easy to spot using the Performance-based Interview by evaluating the candidate’s major accomplishments focusing on the results achieved and the process used to achieve the results. When done multiple times a pattern emerges revealing the consistency and quality of the work and process used and the rate of change of growth.
Past Leadership is the Best Way to Predict Future Leadership
Some people say past behavior predicts future behavior. But this is only true when the jobs and the environment (e.g., pace, culture, manager, resources, etc.) are identical.
Past performance is a far better predictor of future performance when the jobs or environment are different. To do this properly you first need to define the job differently. I suggest preparing performance profiles that describe the work as a series of 6-8 performances objectives. Then use the Leadership Fractal to bridge the difference gap.
Use the “Multi-S” Leadership Assessment Technique to Bridge Gaps in Skills and Experiences
As you compare a candidate’s major accomplishments to the performance objectives of the job consider these critical factors:
Scope. Consider the impact of the work, its focus, the size of the budget, size of the teams involved, and the person’s role.
Scale. Consider the complexity of the work and the different groups the person has responsibility over.
Staff. Determine who the person manages, how they are managed and developed, the quality of the people the person has hired and if the person manages managers and executives.
Systems. Understand how the person uses systems and big data to manage, control and predict.
Sophistication. Consider how all types of decisions are made and the types of decisions the person has made.
Solutions. Ask candidates how they solved major problems and about their focus on balancing the practical needs of getting things done quickly vs. eliminating long-term root cause problems.
Strategic. Determine if the person sees the big picture regardless of the size of the project.
Systematic. A proactive and repeatable pattern of improvement ensures projects are successfully and consistently completed on-time and on-budget.
Skills. Understand how the person used his/her skills, behaviors and competencies to get the required results.
Stretch. The strongest people are often assigned to handle the toughest problems. Those who want to get ahead faster volunteer for them.
Rather than look for a perfect match on skills and experiences look for a perfect match on these 10 “S” factors. This is how to remove the experience and skills lid on quality of hire, by putting a floor under it.
Reverse Engineer the Leadership Fractal to Get a Better Job
There is no reason job seekers can’t reverse engineer this entire process during the interview to demonstrate how their track record of past accomplishments matches the open job. Pulling it off requires these critical steps:
- Conduct Discovery. You’ll need to first ask the interviewer to describe some of the major challenges in the open job. Then ask lots of questions to understand the problems, the resources available, the business constraints and the people involved.
- Bridge the Gap. You need to provide a number of examples of comparable accomplishments to convince the interviewer you’re a good match on all of the “S”s especially scope, scale, staff, skills and sophistication. As part of this provide lots and lots of specific details including names, dates, amounts and percentages.
- Sell Your Leadership Fractal. After you provide a number of examples put them all together to demonstrate your trend of growth over time and the fact that what you’ve accomplished is a great match for what they need done.
Managers use a different process to hire strangers than people they know. With acquaintances it’s based on the person’s past performance doing comparable work. Strangers are judged on the depth of their skills and experiences and their presentation skills. To get a better job, job seekers need to be sure they’re evaluated like acquaintances. Demonstrating your Leadership Fractal is the key to pulling it off. And if you have it, it won’t be much of a problem to prove it.
About the author
Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007). Adler holds an MBA from the University of California in Los Angeles and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University in New York.