Insights from Assessment Centers: Notable Reflections by Aspiring Leaders
Perhaps the greatest risk to leadership development initiatives today is the tremendous investment and money spent on learning and development initiatives, only to have minimal application and subsequently limited impact on the objectives of the business. Since studies show that leaders have the greatest behavioral growth via experiential learning initiatives, assessment centers and simulations are vital tools in the development of future leaders at all levels. Assessment centers are an immersive learning experience in which leaders are asked to demonstrate and practice real-world leadership capabilities.
In addition to offering the organization insight into the capabilities and continued needs of their talent bench, participating leaders often take away critical lessons about their own leadership skills and journey. Given the nature of the immersive experience, we always ask leaders what lessons they have learned in addition to their deepened understanding of personal areas of strength and opportunity. In a recent high-potential leadership assessment center for a top-tier pharmaceutical company, participating leaders shared the following key reflections:
The Pace is Fast, So Clear Decisive Communication is Critical
Leaders noted that, when moving quickly, they tended to communicate in ways that weren’t clear or presumed knowledge that their audience may not have. It’s notable that effective communication is crucial in any organization, especially when it comes to talent management. In today's digital age, communication often takes place electronically, making it essential that we pay extra close attention to our messaging and delivery as well as the information contained in any correspondence we receive. Clear communication ensures that all team members understand the expectations, timelines, and goals of projects. Alignment with the business objectives ensures that the project contributes to the organization's overall success, while a clear decision-making process ensures that everyone understands the delegation of assignments, allowing tasks to move forward and be completed efficiently.
Place Empathy at the Forefront
Leadership is not only about setting clear expectations and holding team members accountable. It's also about demonstrating empathy and genuine care for employees. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Leaders who show empathy are more likely to build strong relationships with their team members, which can lead to higher employee engagement, retention, and overall productivity. It's important to note that empathy does not mean being soft or letting team members off the hook. Instead, it means understanding the challenges that team members face and working collaboratively to overcome them.
Always Be Learning
Learners noted that in their quest to improve as leaders, they must always approach their work with a willingness to learn and evolve. Maintaining a growth mindset and creating feedback loops in which they can receive input from managers, stakeholders, team members, and coaches will support their continued development as leaders.
Assessment Center Key Participant Takeaways
In conclusion, assessment centers are a valuable tool for organizations to develop high-potential leaders. However, the lessons learned from these centers go beyond individual leadership potential. They also highlight the importance of clear communication, empathy, and growth mindset in effective leadership. By incorporating these lessons into their talent management practices, organizations can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture that fosters the growth and development of all team members.