What Makes Good Leaders Great?

Strong leadership is not a luxury but a necessity for organisations, now and in the future. How to identify your potential leaders and nurture them to perform at exceptional levels?

What Makes Good Leaders Great?

29 Apr 2016 by  Stephen Hindle

Strong leadership is not a luxury, but a necessity. For any organisation to continue succeeding, it must be able to nurture future leaders who can focus on both short- and long-term results. But how to identify leaders who are not just good, but great for the organisation?

Aon’s Top Companies for Leaders® study has found that companies with a reputation for strong leadership stand out because of a persistent focus on assessment at all levels—from front-line leaders, to mid-level and senior executive levels. The same study found that 100% of global top companies use assessment to identify deficiencies in their leadership skill sets versus only 76% of all other companies. In addition, 96% of global top companies implement accelerated development plans based on these outcomes, compared to 71% of other participating companies.

Unfortunately, organisation after organisation struggles with just how to identify leaders, which assessment approach to use, and how to apply assessment results. In Aon Hewitt’s white paper, ‘Leadership Assessment, The Backbone of a Strong Leadership Pipeline’, we explored 6 guiding principles to help organisations overcome these struggles.

Building a strong, sustainable leadership pipeline

Leadership assessment_Infographic

Guiding Principle #1: Prepare talent for each leadership step
Assess each individual’s potential to ‘make the curve’ at each level—it’s an efficient, reliable, objective, and cost-effective way to develop internal talent for each leadership step.

Guiding Principle #2: Develop leaders who are aligned with organisational strategy
Eighty-eight percent of global top companies report that their leadership assessment practices are explicitly aligned with organisational strategy, compared to only 41% of all other companies. Ensuring a close compatibility between organisational strategy and assessment practices results in leaders who are aligned with the way the organisation works and how to best achieve business results.

Guiding Principle #3: Predict leadership performance effectively
Organisations that employ multiple assessment methods are equipped to be strong predictors of leadership performance. However, many organisations often make the mistake of using only one type of assessment. Different measures better assess particular types of competencies—such as personality, cognitive ability, motivation, and behaviour.

Guiding Principle #4: Turn assessments into leader development opportunities
Top companies strategically and explicitly incorporate assessment with leader development efforts, such as high potential identification and coaching. One hundred percent of global top companies said that their assessment and development procedures were explicitly aligned with talent practices, versus 64% of all other companies.

Guiding Principle #5: Keep assessments realistic and engaging
Employees form reactions and perceptions regarding the organisation’s values and culture based on the types of assessment methods used, and the way they are performed. While career goals should be aspirational, assessments should provide a realistic view of an employee’s achievements and potential.

Guiding Principle #6: Implement practical and sustainable assessment processes
Flexibility, efficiency, and scalability are essential to the long-term sustainability of assessment processes, while assessment tools must appropriately align with the organisation’s competencies, and business context. For assessment processes to work seamlessly across geographical locations and organisational levels, administration, cost, and reporting structures are also essential factors to consider.

To become a global top company, your organisation must exemplify these guiding principles in your assessment techniques and approaches. The development and implementation of a strong assessment plan that spans organisational levels, is compatible with organisational strategy and culture, and operates in tandem with other talent practices will empower your organisation to build and fortify a durable leadership pipeline—and help you discover great leaders in your midst.

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Stephen Hindle

Stephen Hindle has over 20 years of international management experience, gained in progressively more complex and senior roles. With specialist expertise in the Asian IT, telecommunications, publishing, BPO/contact centre and financial services sectors, he has had significant success in consulting on psychometric assessment, change management initiatives, and leadership development programmes. Stephen is Aon Hewitt’s Principal Consultant, Assessment & Leadership in APAC, Middle East & Africa, and also a member of the Aon Hewitt Global Assessment Council.

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