In recruiting leaders, it is critical to pay close attention to how well the candidates will fit with the other members of the leadership team — a factor that is at least as important as the individual’s skills and experience. A recent Inc. blog piece, The Right Management Team Transforms Chaos Into Calm, discusses the struggles that founders have in transforming their companies from mature start-ups to organizations with experienced management teams. The blog piece stresses the favorable impact that experienced managers can have in settling and transforming a mature start-up. It also discusses different management roles, commenting on their likely levels of impact and the preferred sequence for filling them. As part of the discussion, the blog piece touches favorably on the use of assessments of personality in selecting new leaders, even suggesting that getting a psychologist’s assessment may be a good idea.
In choosing leaders, it is important to do more than “gain an understanding of their personality traits,” as the blog piece suggests. You need to first understand the personality types on the existing leadership team — including the founder — as well as the relationship strength between different pairings of team members. The way to do this is to have the existing leadership team members take the Four Groups 4G assessment which will show their personality types as well as the strength of their respective relationships. The assessment color codes the strength of relationships between personality types as follows:
- Very strong relationships are represented by a green line between two individuals in the 4G report.
- Strong relationships between personality types are represented by a blue line.
- Somewhat weak relationships between personality types are represented by a yellow line.
- Weak relationships between personality types are represented by a red line.
These results indicate the percentage of time that two individuals will spend trying to understand how to communicate instead of performing productive work. In the case of a green relationship, the two individuals will spend at most 15 % or their time on communication issues. The relationship will be easy and productive. In contrast, in a red relationship, the time spent on communication issues can be as high as 50%, and the two individuals will have an ongoing struggle to figure out how to work together.
These results will show the relationship strength between each pair of leaders on the leadership team. Once this is known, the next step is to have each potential candidate take the Four Groups 4G assessment. This will show how well the candidate would work with each existing member of the leadership team as well as whether the addition of the candidate to the team would raise or lower the overall strength of relationship within the team. Adding an individual to the leadership team who, based on assessment, will have weak relationships with several team members, can cause a major decline in overall team productivity. For example, just imagine hiring a CFO whose Four Groups 4G assessment indicates red relationships with three other members of the C-suite, including the CEO. Believe it or not, this happens every day. Contrary to what your gut might tell you, interviews do not show relationship strength. A Four Groups 4G assessment is, to my knowledge, the only tool that will explicitly give this information.
Now, back to the situation in the Inc. blog piece. While a bad relationship hire is unfortunate in any size company, it is just deadly in a mature start-up. If the new leader and the founder have a red relationship, the cost can be enormous. Not only will the short term disruption be expensive and extremely stressful. The founder will become so gun shy from the experience, that he will be reluctant to try a senior hire again, thereby jeopardizing the future success of the company.
If you haven’t already, you need to learn about Four Groups 4G and start using it to make smart leadership hires.