The Infor Blog

A healthy leadership pipeline is filled with behavioral data

By Duncan Angove, Infor president

The late Warren G. Bennis, a pioneer in the fields of group behavior and leadership studies, said:

“Too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted people never are. They have unique talents. Such people cannot be forced into roles they are not suited for, nor should they be. Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do.”

But it’s difficult to identify great people, let alone match their skills and behaviors to responsibilities for which they’re best suited. In Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, 7,000 senior executives worldwide ranked leadership second—higher than workforce management, engagement, or culture—on a list of key areas that needed to be priorities.

Why? They’re not satisfied with how their organizations currently develop leaders—weak leadership pipelines were reported by 28% of Global Human Capital Trends respondents. Worse, only 14% say they’re “strong” at succession planning, and a mere 7% rate themselves “excellent” at building Millennial leaders.

Respondents also report having increased spend on leadership training platforms that “appear effective” but fail to generate measurable results. These programs may suffer from an underlying flaw that gets back to the uniqueness Bennis called out. Education as an isolated function doesn’t help reveal the work that employees are “born to do.”

If you want your best people to take on meaningful roles—and really own them—learning platforms and workforce solutions need to be integrated with tools that facilitate development and analyze behavior. Jill Strange, Infor HCM behavioral science director, says this approach does more than assess which employees can fulfill the requirements of a leadership position—it also helps measure best fits for that workplace’s culture.

Even with new hires, a behavioral data program makes a big impact. I’ve written about its effect on retention. Marcus Mossberger, Infor HCM strategy director, points out that “day one” is just as important when it comes to nurturing tomorrow’s leaders. Many organizations see onboarding as a brief transitional process, but Mossberger urges not to underestimate the influence of a personalized onboarding experience, particularly when engaging top talent:

“It provides a strong message, which conveys that an organization can help employees succeed by giving careful consideration to the needs of the individuals. It shows how an organization is prepared to customize processes specifically for that individual. That’s a big deal.”

Knowledge, charisma, and skill are hallmarks we look for in leaders. But to me, leadership also calls for an ability to listen and observe. Behavioral data science brings all these characteristics together—offering the capability to predict exemplary performance, but also conveying to your employees that they have the ability, the opportunity, and the responsibility to define what leadership looks like in your organization.


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