Context is the key to a leader’s success • The recruitment of a new leader nowadays is not a walk in the park. Times are changing rapidly and the impact on the way we search for people has been tremendous. We should focus much more on the context in order to find the right candidates.

Valpeo / Insights

Why leadership models should be replaced by a new methodology

July 16, 2021

Context is the key to a leader’s success • The recruitment of a new leader nowadays is not a walk in the park. Times are changing rapidly and the impact on the way we search for people has been tremendous. We should focus much more on the context in order to find the right candidates.

Organizations looking for leaders face two main challenges

Many leadership assessments show significant shortcomings, and we are experiencing challenging times, more than ever. What should organizations do to select the right leaders? And how does VALPEO’s solution make a difference?

Many leadership assessments show significant shortcomings

For many years, companies and HR professionals have used psychometric standards like personality tests, competence models, assessment and development centers to assess candidates or measure performance.

We have seen assessments that were built on rapidly changing leadership models, as well as on value-based models that focus mostly on behavior. These 7 leadership models were successively very popular [1] in the last 50 years.

  •       Situational leadership: leading based on employee maturity
  •       Adaptive leadership: taking on change and growth over time
  •       Authentic leadership: building legitimacy through honest relationships
  •       Transformational leadership: executing transformational change in tandem with the team
  •       Servant leadership: serving employees honestly and fairly
  •       Digital leadership: leveraging the internet to respond to people’s raised expectations
  •       Agile leadership: leading through a wide range of new, often ambiguous circumstances.

Unfortunately, these leadership models struggle to capture the growing complexity of the context. Let’s explain this more concretely using one of these seven leadership models as an example: situational leadership.

The very popular situational leadership model refers to a problem, and tries to resolve it in a certain way, whether that is directive or participative. Leadership in context, on the other hand, refers to a broader, changing environment.

Contextual leadership has an eye for dynamics, in contrast to – let’s be honest – the outdated situational leadership model. Contextual leadership doesn’t focus on a specific situation, because the likelihood that such a situation will occur again is low.

In summary, there is no golden model that guarantees better performance[2] In addition, as the context changes faster, models become outdated faster as well.

It’s no wonder that many leaders who were recruited on the basis of the methodologies listed above still failed. The assessments themselves showed blind spots and didn’t seem to predict leadership effectiveness very well.

We are experiencing challenging times, more than ever

Besides these changing models, society and business environments have changed dramatically. We live in VUCA times (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous), with a lot of uncertainty and external shocks.

In a survey by PwC, CEOs express their concerns about these new developments: “The structural, technological and economic uncertainty today is unprecedented. How do we continue to build value and trust?” [3]

What should organizations do to select the right leaders?

Faced with those two challenges, it is clear that organizations must look for leaders-in-context alignment. As society and organizations evolve, so do our leaders. The key lies in casting leaders in the right leadership roles at the right time in their own evolution.

In doing so, leaders will be able to add value and build trust, because they are cast into the right context. Assessments should be able to help organizations to address leadership in a more dynamic and integrated way, rather than focusing narrowly on behavior in one single context.

But how can we find these leaders?

It all starts by understanding the complexity of the context that has to be managed. Research [4] shows that people create the most value if the context offers a proper level of complexity, and resonates with their personal values and preferred behavior.

Context is an important and underrated predictor of a leader’s success. Even the best management talent is only transferable if it maps onto the challenges of the new environment. [5]

As we pointed out, this dynamic is not captured very well by regular assessments. Leaders generally have ‘spikey’ profiles that are not well-aligned with every context. Techniques used to assess ‘leader to context’ alignment are often subjective, rigid and limiting.

This is where VALPEO comes in.

How does VALPEO’s solution make a difference?

VALPEO takes assessments to a new level through the use of scientifically validated (evidence-based) models to map a leader’s capacity and potential to handle complexity, their personal values and preferred behavior.

Let us explain these three orientations:

  1. Complexity Orientation: Will leaders are able to add value at the expected level of complexity?  [6]
  2. Values Orientation: Will personal values match the organizational values? [7]
  3. Behavioral Orientation: Will leaders behave in the way you expect?

Understanding how leaders think, feel and like to act provides a broad perspective of the context in which they can live up to their full potential. VALPEO is convinced that if the alignment between context and leaders is strong, leaders will autonomously and intuitively create value.

By putting the people in the right context at the right time, VALPEO helps organizations achieve resilience and longevity. In an optimal setting, organizations become self-regulating systems.

How does VALPEO deliver on this promise? A worldwide network of certified consultants is using the VALPEO methodology and these consultants are delivering new leaders who are creating value to their clients.

What impact would VALPEO’s methodology have on your search for a leader?

[1] Reshaping Leadership for the Future, Gartner Research, October 2019[2] Reshaping Leadership for the Future, Gartner Research, October 2019[3] PWC -23rd CEO survey 2019[4] CEB (now Gartner), The Power of Context in Driving Leader Success[5] Harvard Business Review 2006[6] Prof. Elliott Jaques and Prof. Robert Kegan studied the levels of work level complexity and levels of consciousness. They offer insights into the level of complexity at which people can add most value.[7] Prof. Shalom H. Schwartz distinguishes 19 universal values and thus offers insights into the context in which people will thrive and find meaning.

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