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From a different perspective...



Some people are very smart. They talk well, and they do well on intelligence tests of analytical thinking. But when assessing a candidate for a supervisor, manager, or executive role, looking for "traditional" intelligence is not enough. The successful candidate must also demonstrate judgment and scope...all part of real "intelligence" in the real world. Psychological testing is not enough to make an assessment like this. An interview is also needed.


Judgment is the ability to set and maintain the right priorities in the right context. This is typically assessed by asking about past decisions and by carefully looking at the thinking processes involved in past decisions.


  A recent candidate for a senior manufacturing management position was asked to explain, when taking his most recent job, how he had decided what needed his attention first and how he began the process of change. His answer: "I just looked for ways to cut costs and make more profits. That's all." He was a firefighter and responded only to obvious crises.


Intelligence also includes people judgment. By asking about past projects, how others were involved, people hired and fired, and performance issues that were handled in the past, it is possible to assess how well a candidate exercises sound people judgment.


People judgment includes the ability to build and maintain relationships. A successful candidate must demonstrate empathy and the ability to understand and respect the needs of others. All of this is part of "intelligence" assessment.


Emotional intelligence...the ability to recognize and use one's own and others' emotions to make better also an "intelligence" that is needed for leaders in any organization. EI is more than empathy. It also requires introspection and self-awareness.


Success in a leadership role also depends on cognitive scope, as defined by Elliot Jaques many years ago. Scope refers to how a person handles information complexity. But instead of expressing it in terms of the kind of processing a person uses (assertive cumulative, serial, or parallel), it can be expressed in terms of the time span or scope that matches the person's style of processing. The greater a person's ability to handle information complexity, the greater his/her ability to think ahead and work with more complex problems. This is critical, beause different jobs in an organization require the ability to work with issues that may span six months or several years depending on the individual's role in the organization.


Scope, judgment, people judgment, emotional intelligence, and analytical skills are part of "intelligence." They need to be included in what you look for in any assessment of an individual's fit and growth potential for an organization. Psychological testing helps, but a good interview is also needed to assess real "intelligence" in a candidate for a key position in a company.



Lakin Associates


Last modified: July, 2015
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