A group of neuroscientists, psychologists and management experts at Reading University are using brain scans to study how leaders think. Dr Kevin Money of Reading University, explained, “We hope to look at how leaders from different sectors make decisions, what actually leads people to move from making good to bad decisions, what goes on in people’s minds and how they make those choices.” You can see more detail on their work on this report on the BBC.
Employing technology to determine what makes a good leader is not new. For a long time organisations have used psychometric testing to help choose candidates for senior positions. However, psychometrics is a controversial method. Some critics believe that its claims cannot be substantiated.
How can you use theoretical tests to check the very soft skills of leadership – like empathy, listening, trustworthiness, integrity, communication and vision? Surely these can only be assessed face to face – at interview. Unfortunately there is considerable evidence that interviews are very unreliable tools for assessing leadership qualities in candidates. Many interviewers are fooled by a professional appearance and tend to select people they like rather than people who are best for the job.
Listen to what Alan Charnley, Managing Director for Xerox UK & Ireland, says about leadership in this podcast. He identifies seven key characteristics of successful leaders in today’s tough climate:
If brains scans or psychometric tests can help us spot these qualites then maybe they are useful after all.
Paul Sloane writes and speaks on leadership and innovation. He is the author of The Leader’s Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills.