Blog

Leadership Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

by Eric Baker
on 2015-02-11

If you’re playing a game of Guess the Movie Quote, it’s safe to say you and everyone else will know that “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get” comes from Forrest Gump.

That quote isn’t really accurate, of course. Better quality boxes of chocolate tell you what’s inside each piece so you can make an informed decision about how to spend your calories. No one wants to make the wrong choice and throw away half-eaten chocolate. It’s a waste of money and a bitter disappointment.

Now let’s take that metaphor and apply to a truly important decision: Who should you hire for that vacant leadership position in your organization? If you’re willing to spend a bit more for better chocolate, it makes sense that you would invest more in hiring the better candidate, right? When you use a valid personality assessment to aid your selection, it’s like having someone tell you what’s going on inside each applicant.

Imagine you have an open Branch Manager position. This branch is well established and profitable, and the employees are experienced, but the bookkeeping is sloppy and corporate policies are loosely enforced. Frankly, it’s an audit disaster waiting to happen. Applicant #1 seems confident, authoritative, and personable. Applicant #2 is reserved and undemonstrative. You hire applicant #1. Six months later, you fire him because the compliance issues have gotten even worse. But he made such a great impression in the interview!

Let’s replay that scenario again, only this time you use a valid personality assessment tool to uncover your applicants’ inner motivations. It turns out that Applicant #1 is bright, creative, and energetic, in addition to being a great communicator, but he has no detail focus and finds repetition and procedures tedious. Applicant #2, on the other hand, is socially reserved and task oriented, but she is excellent with details, highly organized, and terrific at holding people accountable. You hire applicant #2, and the branch sets a new standard for compliance accuracy at the next audit.

Great hiring choice, though you still feel bad about applicant #1. He showed great attributes but happened to be a bad fit for that role. Meanwhile, your organization wants to expand its product offerings and tap into new markets. You need smart, creative, and influential leaders with a big-picture focus to take on that challenge and gain buy-in across the company. You go, hmmm, and pull out the assessment results for Applicant #1 one more time.

To quote a recent Quentin Tarantino movie, “That’s a bingo!”

Just as a good box of chocolates helps you make an informed candy selection by revealing what lies below the surface, a good assessment tool like the Caliper Profile can help you fill your leadership positions with the right people by showing their strengths, motivations, and performance inhibitors.

Maybe Forrest Gump will get it right in the sequel.