During the past six months, I have had the opportunity to take part in many evaluation projects carried out at the highest level of management. Each process has started by discussing what would be the most natural way to point out any differences between candidates and produce a reliable evaluation of their activities in a demanding leading position. Customers may have justified their preferences, for example, by the years of experience or by the necessity of experience in a specific area. They have even defined what methods consultants may use by saying that “no psychological tests will be used to evaluate our management-level candidates.”

It is only natural that customers place emphasis on business achievements top-level candidates have reached during their careers. Mentioning that EBIT has made excellent progress under the candidate's leadership in the CV does say something about what has happened, but not necessarily anything about who or what made this positive development possible. Undoubtedly, the manager played their part in this growth, but what is the actual value of this piece of information?

A standard CV format places everyone in an equal position

When auditing the management of a global company, I ran into an excellent CV template, using which all members of the company's top management had prepared a description of their careers and accomplishments in the company. All CVs were nearly identical, with only slight differences in titles, showing similar key figures and personnel survey averages. All of the accomplishments were great but showed only minor differences. The conclusion was that each and every one was a hard-core professional. Then again, the documents did not help to identify the highest potential, much less to evaluate who would be the best person to lead the company towards the goals set out in its new strategy.

Benchmarking 360 evaluations of colleagues and employees

One expert organization proposed that recently conducted 360 evaluations should form the basis of resource decisions. The evaluation mainly consists of numerical values given by colleagues and employees for behavior-based statements. Furthermore, these values are often based on the respondents' expectations of the type of a supervisor and manager they need. If the value is low, the respondents probably do not get what they need. This is certainly true for the respondents. However, this opinion, albeit an accurate one, is not enough to predict the future. It cannot even be generalized to a larger extent.

Psychological methods

If the aim is to obtain reliable information about the future activities of candidates, the best option is to use scientifically proven and studied methods. By being able to examine the candidates' hierarchy of needs, reaction models, structure of personality and cognitive abilities and styles, we can produce usable information for evaluating the future. If the candidates have a realistic understanding of their strengths and the ability to reflect on the basis of their actions, evaluations are highly accurate and we can reasonably estimate how ready different individuals are to produce success in the future.

The future is blurred, and not all phenomena follow the path paved by the history. There are always surprises, and plans can also fail. The correct personality dynamics and proper abilities to process information increase the probability of success because they predict the ability to survive. This is not competence, and it does not consist of employee evaluations. It is a psychological feature. And it can be identified.

The answer to the question presented in the header is: natural qualities.