What Kind of Leader is the Right Leader?

Within a sea of various organizations, you may find just as many different corporate objectives. In this sense, leadership isn’t a “one fits all” phenomenon, as strengths/abilities can be quite different. As a result, companies need to know what specifically to look for in leaders.

Sometimes, assumptions are what drive decision making when it comes to selecting the right leader for the right job. But that may not be the best way to go.

One research effort focused on what defined appropriate leaders for environmental (“green”) company goals. As stated just above, leaders have different strengths and abilities, known as competencies.  A leadership assessment tool known as BUILD is essentially a survey designed to discover these competencies. A leader, along with those surrounding him/her, fill them out to make the final discoveries.  BUILD was used in the aforementioned study.

Researchers broke things down into three parts:

  • First, they conducted interviews with recruiters who focus on searching for executives. These interviews centered on how specific leadership competencies and green priorities were incorporated into the searches.
  • Next, they looked at how lean-thinking could impact what companies seek out in potential leaders — all while focusing on what the corporate environmental objectives are. (Note: lean thinking means when an organization works to minimize costs to customers, suppliers and the environment. They want to train everyone to create more with less — minimizing waste as a result.)
  • Finally, the researchers merged data from corporate environmental performance ratings with results from a BUILD survey of professionals, which in turn assessed the competencies of top-level operations managers.

So, what did they discover from all this? 

In a nutshell, these companies ultimately sought out different strengths in potential managers dependent on their corporate environmental objectives. It was not a “one size fits all” scenario. Lean-thinking also played a role in the determinations.

For example, researchers found competencies related to stewardship help leaders with resource management along with energy and climate-related corporate objectives. If a leader, on the other hand, excels with his/her relational skills, they are better equipped to handle policy and reporting related corporate objectives. 

The bottom line is that companies cannot assume anything; they need to determine what competencies are a match for their needs. And finding a tool like BUILD can help them do exactly that.  



Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.