How Science Is Powering Leadership Assessment



AESC’s Leaders on Leaders podcast explores top trends impacting global leadership. Karen Greenbaum, AESC President and CEO, speaks with leaders from the world’s top executive search and leadership advisory firms.

In our latest episode, Karen speaks with Clarke Murphy, CEO of Russell Reynolds Associates, and discusses how science and data are being used to predict success, the importance of building a culture of inclusion and more.

Below is a brief excerpt. 

KAREN: You’ve recently announced Leadership Span, your new approach to assessment and it’s indicated that it is a game-changer. So what makes your approach to assessment so unique?

CLARKE: We think that the Leadership Span framework helps give a greater sense of predictability to C-suite executives or CEO succession candidates than a reflection on past performance.

[...] So the world today, you may need to be disruptive or understand disruption or accept it or implement it, but there are also moments when you have to be incredibly pragmatic, practical to make operating decisions or painful ones now. It’s not 'are you disruptive' or 'are you practical'. It’s how wide is the span between the two. So Leadership Span is looking at opposing four pairs of opposing competencies and the better you span them—we believe and are supported by science and by the PhD studies at Hogan—has a greater sense of predictability of future success. And clients are incredibly excited that they have more science as well as our opinion around future success.

KAREN: How do you apply Leadership Span and culture analysis to the organization beyond executive selection?

CLARKE: Right. So, remember that if you do 4,000 searches a year, the great insight you have and the knowledge you have is through executive search. Let’s not kid ourselves: that’s who we are, it’s who we want to be, and it’s where we’ll stay. But the insights you generate from that and/or the data that now we collect is so much more—from the last 11 or 12 years from our assessment work and the psychological testing work we’ve done—you have tremendous amounts of data that you can start to see pattern recognition. You can start to see trends of success or lack of success versus corporate performance. So, what we’re just doing is applying a lot of what we’ve learned or can test for today, particularly around culture. 

[...] We’re in the core business of what we’re in. We’re just taking much of the insight from that and helping clients in different ways. 

Listen to other Leaders on Leaders episodes

Listen to other Leaders on Leaders