How to identify who are (or will be) good leaders?

How exactly? For example by conducting tests. Leadership competence is an inexhaustible research theme. The results of these researches endlessly suggest us, what, when and how we should consider and measure when we are searching for good leaders.

Indexes, challenges, situations and many other indicators and measures exist and – taking all of them into account – it is hardly possible to believe that there is one perfect leadership profile.

Work and leadership psychologists have been exploring this topic from a scientific aspect for a long time with varying degrees of success. There have been times when they were looking for personality characteristics and times when they were trying to define the characteristics of a good leader based on situational tasks.

The truth – if it exists at all – lies somewhere in the middle between the situational tasks – or more specifically workplace characteristics – and the personality characteristics.

Many researches have proven that we should not ignore personal characteristics – although it is not worth expecting to get a narrow interval in all the dimensions examined – which will be true for every good leader. Instead it is enough to highlight the major characteristics while we can use the others to specify a profile for particular positions and organizations.

The comparative analysis and meta-synthesis made by Dr. Robert Hogan also prove this point of view. In case of the well-known personality test, the Hogan Personality Inventory the valuation of good leaders are expected to be in the given interval in case of only four of the seven characteristics. These are – in order – adjustment or emotional stability in other words, ambition which is the energetic and result oriented part of extraversion, interpersonal sensitivity or friendliness how it is called by the Big Five and last but not least prudence which is the best indicator for career development.

These are those indicators that were defined by countless professional studies and several hundreds of joint researches. Regarding them we should note that in case of prudence the connection is not linear at all which means that the higher coherence doesn’t necessarily mean higher correspondence. Namely, in case of leadership excessively high prudence can have a drawback as it may result in inflexibility, perfectionism and micro management and none of these are advantageous.

At this point many of us can lack the strategic vision as main leadership characteristic from the list above, but in this matter both the public opinion and the professional point of view are the same: strategic vision – which is one of the results of curiosity or openness for new experience – becomes important simultaneously with the elevation of the leadership position occupied. Consequently, when we are generally speaking about leadership – which essentially means the coordination of a team – we cannot consider this characteristic as a must. Besides these it is also important to assess sociability and learning approach as without them it is not possible to design the selection mechanism of leaders to be company and job role specified.

Consequently, the useful personality test on the one hand assesses the personality, on the other hand provides accurate frame (scores, intervals, percentiles) for measurement in the above mentioned four dimensions. This way the specialist of selection has the basis which can be further specified depending on the expectations of the exact job role.