Dr. Kimberly Janson’s New Book, Determining Leadership Potential, Providing Solutions For A Global Leadership Crisis

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Based on extensive research and many years of experience, in her book, Determining Leadership Potential, Dr. Janson provides leaders with information they need to better assess and select high-performing, well-suited leadership candidates, sparing them from costly talent management mistakes.

Most organisations are well aware that human resources are their most valuable asset. Employees are the heartbeat of the company, contributors to the brand, culture, and innovation that keeps the company alive and well. According to Chron, “Depending on the sector of your business, you may spend between 40 to 80 percent of gross revenues on employee salaries and benefits combined. Salaries alone can account for 18 to 52 percent of your operating budget, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.” Knowing how important it is to recruit and manage these resources well, more and more companies are seeking the help of experts like Dr. Kimberly Janson of Janson Associates. With 25 years of experience working in over 40 countries, she is an expert when it comes to a wide array of business coaching and consultant services, including team optimization and organizational development. Dr. Janson is so invested in her life’s work that, after conducting numerous research studies, she has a new book releasing this summer, now available for presale, Determining Leadership Potential, Powerful Insights to Winning at the Talent Game. 

Dr. Janson defines leadership as “the act of galvanizing people, individually and collectively, to achieve profound results that would have otherwise been difficult to achieve independently. It includes creating a vision, providing clarity, and facilitating an effective environment, all for the purpose of enabling employees or a team to be their best selves.” 

Every organization is hoping for a galvanized, forward-thinking executive leadership team, strong upper and middle management, support staff, and a healthy pipeline of future leaders productively developing as leaders-in-waiting. Unfortunately, many organizations are finding it nearly impossible to accomplish their leadership goals because, in reality, we are in the midst of a leadership crisis. “Not only do we lack the leaders to meet the need, but we are also often placing the wrong people into leadership roles and consequently creating major disruption,” says Dr. Janson. “The monetary cost companies are saddled with when they put the wrong people into leadership roles is just one part of the equation. Other consequences can include a trickle-down effect of low morale, turnover, and absenteeism. The crisis stems not only from a shortage of high-performing leader candidates, but largely from placing too many leaders into roles that are the wrong choice.”

Many organisations operate with inconsistency in the assessment methods and tools they use to determine candidates’ leadership potential. With two Master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in Business, Dr. Janson has done extensive research on this topic, and she shares her expert recommendations in Determining Leadership Potential. The book was written in partnership with Dr. Melody Rawlings, the Director of the Center of Virtual Organisations at Northcentral University. The book is based upon a meta-analysis of research from thought leaders as well as several International Review Board (IRB) sanctioned research projects that she conducted, the most recent of which includes more than 50 CEOs from around the world. The study addresses the root cause of the current leadership crisis: management’s ability to properly choose leaders and effectively determine leadership potential. According to this extensive research, the four vital components that are reliable predictors of leadership potential are motivation, intelligence, personality, and learning agility. The book shares insights offered by these CEOs, who reveal how they think about these predictors and use them to assess and select employees and their tips for becoming stronger leaders.

In Determining Leadership Potential and in her premier coaching and consulting services, Dr. Janson is a strong proponent of a leadership potential framework called Leadership Blueprint. “It was created in 2014 by Allan Church and Rob Silzer, who combined their superpowers to create an incredibly valuable tool. It uses extensive academic research, a comprehensive literature review, applied psychology, organizational behavior research, data, and frameworks from consulting firms, and over 50 years of theories, research, and practice on the subject of high potential,” says Dr. Janson. “The Leadership Blueprint consists of categories that must be considered in order when determining potential, including: intelligence and personality, learning agility and motivation, and leadership skills and technical expertise.” The focus is on the first four, as the last two, leadership skills and technical expertise, can be taught. 

Dr. Janson explains in Determining Leadership Potential that candidates who are found to be limited in intelligence (because things only become more complex the higher you go in an organization) and have major personality derailers should be eliminated as candidates. Likewise, those who are found wanting in terms of motivation and learning agility should not advance further in the assessment process for a leadership position. Because, as the person selecting leaders, you cannot change those four components in a candidate, and they are essential for leader success, it is best to eliminate unsuitable candidates from the start rather than put them into a leadership role where they will be unsuccessful.

“Leaders are not always strong at selecting other leaders,” says Dr. Janson. “Some reasons for this failure rate are managers’ limited skills in applying assessments, the tremendous variation in the selection process, bias, or they simply have not been taught well how to do this complex task. Leaders often make selections based on past performance, but performance is not a predictor of future success unless the performance scope is similar to what it was in the past.” She reports that many of her clients have made significant improvements in the leadership selection process using the results of her research. While it might seem daunting to organizational leaders to consider changes in hiring practices, this is one of Dr. Janson’s specialties.

In addition to her impressive degrees, where did Dr. Janson develop her expertise? Her professional history includes executive-level positions with H. J. Heinz, Bank of America, Hasbro, and Bank of Boston. Since founding Janson Associates, her client list continues to be just as impressive. 

In Determining Leadership Potential, Dr. Janson reports, “Approximately half of leader appointments fail with an estimated cost to companies of $1 million per company with some estimates as high as $2.5 million per leader. In other words: The costs are staggering!” Costs come in many forms. They can be direct costs such as recruiting fees and severance payments or indirect costs such as turnover, low morale, missed revenue opportunities, and impact from bad decisions. 

As businesses are experiencing the ongoing effects of the pandemic, finding enough top talent continues to be a tremendous challenge when executives need candidates to fill critical positions. Dr. Janson’s team created a website to assist people in this area. That website, DeterminingLeadershipPotential.com, is a rich resource, including interview questions, case studies, and tips that can be used in conjunction with the book.  

In addition to this book, Dr. Janson has published a previous book, Demystifying Talent Management, which won the Axiom Book Award. She also writes regularly for Forbes, Boston Business Journal, and other periodicals. Those articles as well as the weekly blog can be found on her website. You can also find powerful insights daily on her Instagram page, which has over 200,000 followers. 

As a subject matter expert, Dr. Janson is a sought-after resource to help executives, teams, and organisations unleash their potential. To be among the first to receive a copy of Determining Leadership Potential, it is available for presale, and to inquire about Dr. Kimberly Janson’s premier consulting and coaching services, she can be reached at Janson Associates




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