who has a formal leadership role and those candidates who do not.
leadership, their technical skills become relatively less important to their
ongoing success. The critical factor that has the candidate consistently
deliver high performance in a leadership position is, overwhelmingly, their
competency in establishing and developing effective relationships. Unless a
leader can use relationship building and influencing skills to get things done
through others, he or she will fail at their job, regardless of how well they
may perform in other parts of their job.
a leader typically has that tests that leader’s influencing capability:
person(s) who report to them
person they report to
stakeholders (including customers/clients, suppliers etc)
A resume is, in almost all cases, spectacularly
ineffective at helping a recruiter understand just how competent the candidate
is at leadership, compared to exercising bureaucratic power, which is done
through having a job that includes one of ‘chief’, ‘director’, ‘manager’ or
‘leader’ somewhere in the title.
in their Harvard Business Review article from last month, How to
Lead When You’re Not in Charge (HBR, 2013)
distinguish between the practice of leadership and the exercise of bureaucratic
power. In order to engage in a conversation about leadership, you have to
assume you have no power — that you aren’t ‘in charge’ of anything and that you
can’t sanction those who are unwilling to do your bidding. If, given this
starting point, you can mobilize others and accomplish amazing things, then
you’re a leader. If you can’t, well then, you’re a bureaucrat.”
identify a genuine leader from a bureaucrat then you will need to be using a
range of behavioural interview questions to uncover the relevant evidence.
I suggest you consider using when interviewing a candidate who is in, or
aspires to, a leadership role to enable you to distinguish a real leader from a
an instance where you have been required to set specific goals for your
team. What methods or techniques did you use to ensure that your team
understood goals that they were working towards? What was the outcome?
we develop a vision or a strategy that does not always meet everybody’s
expectations. Can you tell me about a time where you encountered
resistance from key stakeholders? What did you do?
an instance where you needed to involve your team in making a decision.
How did you decide what information to share, which would assist them in
achieving their goals?
communication and sharing of ideas is integral to running a successful
team. How have you encouraged team communication and the sharing of
relevant information in the past? Which techniques have you found to be
was the most recent important project that you delegated to a person or a
team? What did you do to ensure that the person or the team would be
a time you disagreed with an important decision made by your boss. How did
you communicate this disagreement? What was the outcome?
up-line relationship do you regard as the most successful of your career?
Why? What did you do to make that relationship so successful?
sorts of things have you done to motivate others to demonstrate the
company’s vision and values?
to help understand leadership capabilities, regardless of position title:
people from outside your work area to cooperate often requires them to
commit time for your benefit. Tell me about a time when you asked someone
outside of your work area to commit time for your benefit. What did you
say to gain their cooperation?
partnerships promote value for both parties. Describe a time when you have
worked to clarify mutual benefits with another organisation, department or
external partnerships often depend on support from internal stakeholders.
Tell me about a time when you obtained commitment from others within your
organisation to support an external partnership.
me about a time when you used networking at an industry conference or
event to initiate a relationship that then turned into valuable business
for you or your company. What steps did you take to convert that prospect
into a customer?
we need to sell the benefits of a particular project or plan before it has
any chance of getting off the ground. Describe a time when you had to
demonstrate the benefits of a plan or idea to gain someone’s commitment.
you ever worked with others to develop new and innovative ways to solve
problems? What were they and how did you do it?
you think of a time when you were required to partner with someone on an
important project/assignment, where their goals and objectives were quite
different from your own? How did you go about managing the relationship?
How successful was the outcome?
a time when team morale was at a low. How did you restore the spirit of
the team? What was the result?
working as part of a team, we sometimes find ourselves having to work with
difficult team members to accomplish team goals. How have you managed
conflict with a fellow team member in the past? What did you do or say?
What was the outcome?
you ever noticed someone on the team doing things that were inconsistent
with your company’s values? What did you do?
roles real leaders or merely ladder-climbing bureaucrats, and where’s