Monday, April 30, 2018

Discovering Hidden Gems of Talent on Your Teams

As leaders, most of us probably think we know our teams and their capabilities pretty well.  We interview with the intent of matching skills and competencies to job descriptions, and we manage performance based on employees meeting the requirements of their jobs as described. 

And yet, 62% of employees feel that their skills are often underutilized, according to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison, a career transition and talent development consulting firm.

Employees who do not have the opportunity to fully use their abilities tend to be bored and/or unhappy, less productive, and more likely to look for employment elsewhere. This, in turn, impacts the organization because disengaged employees are not achieving their full potential. Leaders often contribute to this by failing to recognize, explore and/or leverage strengths that employees have beyond what their current role requires.

So how do leaders discover and unlock the untapped potential on their teams?

In my work using the Lumina Spark assessment with teams, we’ve been able to demonstrate tremendous benefits when it comes to finding the “hidden gems” of talent on teams. Lumina Spark looks at three personas: 1) the Underlying, which is how a person behaves most naturally; 2) the Everyday, which is how a person shows up at work based on their role and what’s expected of them; and 3) the Overextended, which is how someone behaves under stress.

Recognizing the Underlying persona and identifying the qualities associated with that persona can reveal some undiscovered talent that may have been dormant because it wasn’t required in the current work environment. For example, a person may show a high degree of “imaginative” in their underlying persona but show much less of that quality in their Everyday persona because in their current role they work more with facts and data. Now, let’s say the team has stalled in coming up with a new approach to a particular process or task. Leveraging that team member’s untapped imaginative quality provides an opportunity to get the team unstuck.   Not only will it help the team, it will help the individual become more engaged and motivated by having the opportunity to use a strength that has been idle.

Take a look at your current team initiatives. What are your goals, challenges, and needs?  Are there hidden gems within your team that could raise your effectiveness in meeting these goals? In addressing some of your challenges? As an answer to your needs?

Would you recognize the strengths someone on your team might bring to the table if, in fact, those strengths seem opposite to their currently recognized strengths and job role definition?  Are you aware of how to find the power of passion for your individual team members?  If you can tap into this, you don’t ever need to worry about employee engagement.

You can learn the answers to these and more questions and begin to propel your team forward with Lumina Spark.  Contact me at or 888.827.8855 to learn more.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Harnessing the Power of Women at the Helm

As indicated by a number of recently published studies, companies that have more gender diversity on their executive teams are more likely to experience above-average profitability. One study, in fact, found that companies with more women executives out-performed their less diverse peers by 21%. (McKinsey & Company, Delivering through Diversity)

Yet, oddly, according to a Catalyst research paper, Women in S&P 500 Companies, although women are 44% of the overall S&P 500 labor force, and 36% of first or mid-level managers in those companies, they represent only 25% of executives and senior-level officials and managers, hold only 20% of board seats, and are only 6% of CEOs. Clearly, these companies are remiss in harnessing the power of women at the helm.

What is it about women and the way they lead that helps accelerate organizational performance? How does their approach differ from and complement that of male leaders? And how can companies get better at leveraging the full range of diversity – gender, ethnicity, personality, skills, approach – to create the balanced organization and culture that will lead to and sustain success?

A Lumina Learning white paper published earlier this month had some interesting answers to these questions. (Lumina Learning is a global provider of psychometric assessments in personality and leadership). 

Lumina Learning’s Lumina Spark assessment, based on the Big 5 Personality Traits, looks at 24 qualities that are a part of everyone’s personality, qualities like competitive, collaborative, empathetic, reliable, practical, imaginative, and others. We each have all 24 qualities to different degrees, which make us the complex, unique individuals we are. 

Using a large global sample of Lumina Spark assessments, Lumina’s research found that while there are many similarities between genders, there are some specific areas where they differ.

When looking at Lumina’s 24 personality qualities, men score higher on the three outcome focused qualities of competitive, tough, and logical. Women, on the other hand, score higher within the people focused area on the quality empathetic. Empathy has been called by many the critical skill for the 21st Century. Leaders Eat Last author Simon Sinek says, “true leadership is about empowering others to achieve things they didn’t think possible. Exceptional organizations prioritize the well-being of their people and, in return, their people give everything they’ve got to protect and advance the well-being of one another and the organization.”   Take care of your people, and the people will take care of the business. That’s where empathy comes in. 

Lumina also compared gender leadership effectiveness through 360 performance feedback from the leaders and work colleagues of study participants. In this comparison, women rated significantly better than men on the majority of 16 effective competencies across Lumina’s four leadership domains – Leading with Vision, Leading to Deliver, Leading through People, and Leading with Drive. Competencies where the differences (women rating higher) were statistically significant include: Passion for Learning, Inspires and Engages Others, Planning and Follow-Through, Interpersonally Astute, Coaches and Develops Others, Win-Win Partnering, Strives for Excellence, and Provides Clear Direction.

Lumina also compared how men and women respond under stress, when their strengths may turn into “too much of a good thing.” Examples of this are Passion for Learning turning into Addicted to Learning, Provides Clear Direction turning into Autocrat, and Calm Under Pressure turning into Appears Disengaged. In this comparison, men rated significantly higher on 10 of the 16 “overextended” competencies. 

The third area of comparison was across 16 emotional qualities. Examples of these are: Regard for Others, Expresses Emotions, Confident, Modest, Even-Tempered. The study noted that, “women are generally more modest and responsive to stress than their male counterparts.” Higher levels of modesty and responsiveness reveal themselves in leaders who are more humble and unassuming with the ability to act with urgency under pressure. Although men have higher confidence, on average, “if this is overplayed, it can show up in leaders as inflated egos who appear unconcerned about the people and business at hand.” 

The lesson in all of this is that women have significant strengths to contribute to organizational leadership and success that for too long have been ignored or under-utilized. It’s time to begin harnessing that power by giving women more opportunities at the helm.

One organization that is taking direct action to provide women with more leadership opportunities is Havas Group. Havas recently launched Femmes Forward, an accelerator program utilizing Lumina Spark and designed to prepare high-potential female employees at Havas to advance their careers at a faster pace. Read more about their program here.

Lead on,