Leadership Insights—How Executives React: Behavior amid Challenges
When business leaders step into new assignments, or are suddenly presented with new challenges, what do they do, specifically? How do executives react? In Part 1 of our Leadership Insights series, we look into the data to answer the following question:
“Which specific behaviors most frequently characterize the responses of executives as they take on new and challenging assignments?”
With startling regularity, organizations give tremendous responsibility to leaders whose track records suggest that they can be successful making the jump to a more challenging assignment, only to learn (the hard way) that what a leader CAN do is often very different from what a leader actually WILL do on the job.
If one thing characterizes the challenge of executive leadership, it is the ability to adapt. Surprises occur almost constantly, requiring leaders to react instinctively without training or preparation. The question so many organizations struggle to answer as they plan for the future is, “How will our leaders react when surprised by the business challenges we will soon face?” As we will see, that struggle may be due, in large part, to the fact that many aren’t looking closely enough at the specific behavior patterns that leaders display when responding to challenges.
The only true way of knowing what someone will do when presented with a new situation is of course to watch him or her do it. But since we don’t have a low-risk way to watch leaders perform in jobs they haven’t yet assumed, we must find other ways of getting as close to what they will do as possible. Interviews that examine prior experiences and accomplishments are useful measures of what one did do in the past, and tests and inventories of personality, cognitive ability, or other stable internal attributes are helpful measures of one might or can do. But for complex assignments like executive leadership roles, these measures take us only part of the way to will do.
Read all of Leadership Insights: Part One by visiting www.ddiworld.com/leadershipinsights, where you can also follow the series. Share your comments, questions and observations by posting a comment in this blog.