A leadership solution: Practical guidelines for HR

By Maretha Prinsloo on September 2, 2019

©Dmitry Pichugin / adobe.stock.com


In the first brief article of this 3-part series, emerging business disruptors were elaborated upon. The second article engaged in a discussion of the potential leverage offered in this regard through leadership. In this third part of the series, the practicalities involved in facilitating a leadership solution within the corporate context, are addressed.


Firstly, the HR practitioners involved, need to understand the specific requirements for the effective functioning of their organisation. These structural and functional requirements need to be well-integrated with, and reflect, the organisation’s value proposition and core competence; the latter of which also informs all job-related competency requirements. To achieve this goal, organisational and job analyses may need to be conducted.

Next, job families and their associated competency requirements must be clarified and operationalised in terms of the behavioural requirements at various levels of organisational complexity. For example, the competency of “Inspirational leadership” at operational levels differs from that at strategic levels in the organisation. Various job analysis techniques can be used in this regard, one of which is Cognadev’s Contextualised Competency Mapping (CCM) tool.

Once clarity of the contextual work requirements is achieved, people-skills have to be assessed holistically and linked to the competency requirements of work. In addition to biographical profiles reflecting personal, educational and work backgrounds, people assessment in terms of motivation, values and cognitive functioning, is essential, as these will impact overall job-performance and how a person is viewed by others working around them. Personality profiles, however, add surprisingly little additional value in this regard (as summarised by Neal Schmitt in a 2014 Annual Review of effective performance predictors of job performance, and in a forthcoming article summarising the evidence for the prediction of job performance from 100 years of published research in the area).


The assessment tools made available by Cognadev for such holistic assessment include the:

The results from these diverse assessment tools are then synthesised into an integrated competency report, reflective of a specific set of job requirements. The use of Cognadev’s automated report generator, the Integrated Competency Report (ICR) may save the time and effort of HR practitioners in this regard.

Within the current work environment, such a competency-based assessment and development approach to talent management provides a basis for the integration of all HR activities including selection, placement, promotion, team compilation, succession, development and remuneration decisions.

The future world of work is also likely to be competency-based as the functioning of virtual work environments largely capitalise on the skills and learning potential of the talent pool. Assessment results will reduce the risk involved in people decisions within these temporary, project-based, work contexts and can be very helpful in the identification of team members.


In addition to the above-mentioned in-depth assessment approach, the organisation can also benefit from low-cost volume assessment by which organisational audits and mass recruitments can be conducted. For this purpose, Cognadev offers the Cliquidity volume assessment system on social media. This system allows individual test takers to do a variety of assessments of psychological constructs such as personality, motivation, cognition, vocational interest, entrepreneurial orientation and performance risk. The assessments are provided free of charge to individual users who can immediately download their own reports for purposes of job seeking, or for finding business or activity partners.

Organisations too can use the Cliquidity system to do extensive, low cost, recruitment searches on social media according to a host of biographical, educational, psychological and other factors. The volume-based assessment tool also lends itself to the creation of virtual talent pools to prevent vacuum and crowding effects in succession management. The anonymous data on biographical, educational, work-related and psychological assessment results can also inform data visualisation as required for organisational audits, research as well as recruitment and placement of individuals from the talent pool.

People development also forms an important component of talent management and in this context, a variety of strategies can be followed. Whether formal knowledge and skills training, soft skills development, mentoring, shadowing, multi-skilling, performance feedback, knowledge transfer or any other technique is used, it is bound to positively contribute to the individual’s competence, confidence and value add within the organisation. Online courses, some of which involve interaction and collaboration, or gaming components which reinforce progress, tend to enhance engagement.

The goal, however, remains to develop a flexible, adaptive and effective approach for future talent management with a focus on inspirational leadership. Such an approach should ideally meet the HR requirements as specified in a 2017 publication of Deloitte which was based on a survey on human capital trends at 10 000 companies in 140 countries.


The future 10 HR trends as identified by Deloitte

  1. Design agile organisations as ecosystems and networks
  2. Replace static “careers” with lifelong learning
  3. Recruit talent through networking and cognitive technologies
  4. Leverage organisational culture to optimise engagement
  5. Manage performance via feedback, coaching and culture
  6. Conceptualise new leadership models
  7. Digitise HR platforms
  8. Enrich people analytics
  9. Capitalise on diversity
  10. Augment the workforce via AI, robotics and sensors

All the above make good sense and indicate the way forward for people management. However, their implementation may entail an overhaul of current people assessment and development practices. To achieve these goals, HR is well-advised to leverage leadership solutions in all categories and at all levels of work, as leadership is generally regarded as the most powerful and transformative force within organisational and societal contexts.


This view is supported by many thought leaders who regard leadership as a prerequisite for the effective functioning of social systems. Few initiatives thus hold the capacity that leadership does to create trust across diverse populations, to ensure alignment and collaboration and to enable deep democracy for “World Work” as referred to by Arnold Mindell (Mindell, A. (2014, 3rd ed.): The leader as martial artist: An introduction to deep democracy.

Through leadership, greater awareness and consciousness can thus be created which will optimise learning, adaptation and value add within the fast-changing world of work. As previously mentioned, leadership seems the one factor which is best positioned to facilitate Edward Lorenz’s so-called “butterfly effect” which reflects the chaos theory principle of “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”.

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