The BMI of Leadership Talent: Are you in the healthy range?

The medical term BMI (body mass index = weight/height2) is used to screen for weight categories that could lead to health problems. If we apply a similar logic to leadership talent, how would we calculate when there is a high risk to leadership talent health?

The following equation may be useful as a framework for this:

W2 / (L x B x H) = weight/length x breadth x height

If we consider length, we are referring to:

  • What is the length and nature of experience in a leadership context?
  • What is the length and nature of consistent performance?
  • What have been the key learning experiences that have enabled new ways of exercising judgement in the required context of work complexity?

While the above factors relate to neuroplasticity of the brain and automatization -and authors such as Malcom Gladwell posit 10,000 hours of practice to develop deep expertise- in organisations’, leadership talent health should also consider growth, and we therefore consider height, a vertical dimension of talent. Here we are referring to:

  • What is the future potential to operate in a more complex work context, with greater uncertainty and ambiguity?
  • How far and how fast is capability growth likely to develop in terms of the capacity for greater complexity?
  • What development activities need to be implemented in order to enable leadership transitions between more complex themes of work?
  • What is the extent of flow with the current work complexity?

When we consider breadth of leadership talent (a lateral dimension), we are referring to the specific talents of the leader, and we could consider:

  • What is the range and level of competencies demonstrated?
  • What is the extent of learning agility/innovation demonstrated?
  • What breadth of experience has been achieved?
  • Are strengths being utilised?

Finally, there is the thorny issue of weight. This refers to factors that could prevent leaders from performing effectively i.e. those factors that could negatively impact on the translation of talent into performance outcomes. Here we could consider:

  • Are values aligned to that of the organisation and its’ culture?
  • Is there a high level of engagement?
  • Is the ability to cope with stress and display sufficient emotional intelligence present?
  • Are any identified derailers impacting significantly on the ability to perform, or on the ability to achieve outcomes through others?

As outlined above, there are a number of factors to be considering in establishing the health of leadership talent. While many of the above questions can be answered through subjective judgement, the use of standardised objective measures such as capability assessments, psychometric assessments, assessment centres, and 360 reviews assist in answering these questions more accurately and consistently, and can provide a view of current as well as future leadership talent risks. The greater the length, breadth, and height, and the lower the weight, the higher is the likelihood of being in the healthy range.

For more information as to how Bioss SA can assist you with determining the BMI of your leadership talent email