REVIEW: Kimberly Janson and Melody Rawlings — Determining Leadership Potential (BOOK)
“This book is designed to help you be better at determining leadership potential,” write Kimberly Janson and Melody Rawlings, in their new book titled Determining Leadership Potential: Powerful Insights to Winning at the Talent Game. “…The reality is that we all have filters that, often unconsciously, influence the data we receive. We all do this. We go through life sorting based on our experiences, preferences, effects of conditioning, etc. This sorting includes positive and negative views of people. The downside of biases is when we make incorrect assumptions and then consequently take action that harms others.
When we do this as it relates to this subject matter, we may miss people with leadership potential. Therefore, the challenge is it’s too easy for us to be biased. We slip and slide right into assumptions. We need to work exponentially more comprehensively and consciously to make sure we periodically examine and actively manage our biases.” They add, “Bias can sneak into talent management. Consider the last time you were interviewing a person for a significant role, and the applicant happened to be from your college alma mater. You likely felt drawn to this person. You understand how they were trained.
Did you use a rigorous questioning process? Not likely. Unconsciously, you were likely practicing confirmation bias. The consequences of this practice are significant. It means we will operate on little, old, or no new information. It means that we will rely on stereotypes when they support something we perceive to be true or what we are familiar with. Sometimes the association between a group and an idea becomes so strong that we act without thinking about the reality of the given situation in front of us. This is often referred to as implicit bias. Implicit bias is a big idea as it relates to determining leadership potential…”
In less competent hands, this could come across as extremely complex jargon. But Janson and Rawlings don’t sacrifice trust in the reader being educated and worldly for the sake of clarity. They make both things work simultaneously. You get a clear sense of their position, regardless of whether or not every aspect of their communication ideologically lands. To me, that’s the sign of a truly gifted literary communicator. There’s never the sense of narrative slackness, or pontificating in the face of ideological and methodological emptiness. Just straight truths. “Study participants were asked what they thought their role was in determining leadership potential, and a whopping 70% indicated their role was associated with talent identification and assessment.
The two other answers offered most were developing talent and managing performance. That should be joyous news!” the authors state. “Leaders need to enable others in the system to also do a great job in this area in addition to doing great work themselves. This is where consistency and clarity are critical. Variation becomes the enemy. Not one individual mentioned their job was to coach the coaches … meaning mentor leaders in the organizations on how to determine leadership potential and hold them accountable for doing a good job.”