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Leadership Assessment in the Digital Era

April 2020
Alexandra Lekkou
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Balancing support for clients with managing a crisis

The world is becoming increasingly digital. In the past decade alone, we have seen business sectors, professions, and organizations seizing the opportunities that technology offers to build a competitive advantage. In countless ways, this transforms the way we live and interact and, of course, the way we work with the adoption of elements such as instant digital communication, virtual teams, remote working, and a flexible work force.

At this point in history, the transformation is accelerating at a previously unimaginable pace due to the new reality presented by the coronavirus crisis. In a matter of mere days, we have had to adapt and find ways to continue our lives and work while avoiding something we had previously taken for granted: physical contact.

For businesses involved in executive search and assessment that are centered around human interaction and relationships built on trust, this has proved especially challenging. How do we balance supporting clients in running their businesses with managing the crisis, engaging with leaders to progress their careers, and maintaining our quality standards — all while keeping everyone safe? We found that the best plan of action involves turning all of our face-to-face interactions into digital meetups, working as a virtual team, communicating with our clients digitally, and assessing leaders virtually.

At Stanton Chase, we have transformed our assessment methods and tools. All interviews are conducted through video-conferencing platforms, and personality questionnaires are completed online. Similarly, behavioral assessment through business simulations is done virtually. Case studies and inbox exercises are conducted on specialized online platforms and role plays through video conferencing. We applied this 100% virtual solution for assessment purposes, like in the case of a Greek group of companies assessing leaders for a management team position, as well as for development purposes like for a multinational client of ours who is assessing new managers’ capabilities and planning their career development.

The experience of our clients, candidates, and Consulting Team has been very positive and goes beyond our expectations. We have focused on:

  • Flexibility (a time and place convenient for all parties)
  • Convenience (the comfort of the environment each participant chooses)
  • Time (no traveling or commuting required)
  • Deliverables (faster digital report preparation)
  • Candidate/participant experience
  • Client employer brand
  • Cost savings (no travel, facilities, or materials)

However, in our experience, there are two important prerequisites for the successful design and implementation of such a solution. The first is the right choice of digital solutions, which need to be user-friendly, efficient, and above all provide reliable and valid assessment tools. Going digital should not compromise but rather enhance the quality of our assessment insights.

The second is mitigating any negative impact on participating leaders from the absense of face-to-face interaction. Many leaders are used to working virtually, but for those who are not so familiar with digital tools a virtual leadership assessment might take some getting used to. Our Consulting Team found that with reliable guidance and support throughout the process in an effective and friendly manner, leaders found the virtual process easy to follow and enjoyed its benefits.

The current crisis has made it necessary to open our minds to new opportunities and find the confidence to adopt new ways of maximizing efficiency. Once this crisis has passed, these will be valuable lessons as we seek to optimize combined physical and digital resources in building value and the best experience for our stakeholders.

About the author: Alexandra Lekkou is a Director in charge of leadership and organizational culture services at the Stanton Chase Athens office.

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