How to predict leadership effectiveness

"Research has shown that conscientiousness, openness to ideas, and emotional control are all correlated with appointment to senior leadership positions. However, this article argues that behavioural versatility—the ability to behave in ways that are incongruent with your personality—is more strongly correlated with actual leadership effectiveness." - Steffan Brunner, Associate Director and Leadership Development Practice Lead


In a study run by the Chief Science Officer of Hogan Assessments, Ryne Sherman analysed responses to the assessments to understand the key behavioural patterns that predict leadership effectiveness. Learn about the outcome below, and get in touch with us to discuss how assessments like this can assist your organisation. 

Possible indicators of Leadership effectiveness 

We began our investigation by looking at simple relationships between personality and reputation. Sure enough, we found plenty of those. Leaders who scored high on the Hogan Personality Inventory’s Ambition scale were seen by their peers to “speak up,” “be aggressive about growth,” “assume authority,” and “make bold moves.” Leaders who scored high on the HPI’s Interpersonal Sensitivity scale were seen by their peers to “show appreciation,” “be sensitive to people’s feelings,” “rely on input,” and “treat people well.” Those who scored high on the HPI’s Prudence scale were seen to “go by the book,” “be organised,” “be process oriented,” and “be conservative about risk.” Having established a clear relationship between personality and leadership behaviour at work, we sought to build a personality profile of the effective leader.

We found only one behavioural pattern that predicted leadership effectiveness: versatility. Leaders who adopted a versatile behavioural repertoire—sometimes behaving in ways incongruent with their personality—were most likely to be effective.


Can leaders develop versatility? 

Being an effective leader is not about adopting a single behavioural pattern, nor is it about having the “right” personality and sticking to a typical mode of operating. Instead, the most effective leaders are those who can adapt to circumstances, adjust their typical behavioural patterns, and adopt a different behavioural style for each situation. That is, the most effective leaders are aware of their own tendencies.

Ambitious leaders who are most effective can identify when it is right to dial it back, check on staff, and show people that they care. Prudent leaders who are effective realise when they are over focusing on the details and need to consider the bigger picture. Thus, the first step to leadership effectiveness is to gain awareness of your own personality tendencies, to understand the situations where your typical approach won’t get the best results. This research shows us that, with strategic self-awareness, most people can become effective leaders.


Read the full study here

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