Unlocking management horsepower

Want to really put a promotion candidate through their paces? You'll need a car, and a horse...

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Here at MT we see some weird and wonderful theories about how to assess management potential. But even by our standards, this is an odd one: consultancy Management Intelligence suggests that if you really want to know whether your candidates are as good as they claim to be, you should put them in a car – and get them to drive you to a horse…

The idea is that candidates might be able to schmooze their way through an interview, as long as they’re keen, well-prepared, and on their best behaviour (and not a complete sociopath). They’ll wax lyrical about their leadership potential, leaving the interviewer wondering how much is true and how much is bluster.  Of course, the best recruiters ones will get this instinctively – but it’s not foolproof, and occasionally some duffers will slip through the net.

So far, so sensible. Now the more radical bit. Forget asking for a second opinion, or taking references, or looking up their holiday photos on Facebook – far better to put your candidate behind the wheel.  According to Management Intelligence, people’s conversation is more ‘unmanaged’ while they’re driving: ‘Any veneer or sheen to their personality is stripped away,’ says MI’s Fran Tindall. ‘A good part of their mind is focused on driving, obeying the law and staying safe, so they are not as capable of embellishing or trying to cover up, or avoid subjects’ (presumably this is particularly true if they can’t actually drive, in which case their attention will largely be focused on not dying).

Plus of course their driving style may give you a few hints about their character: if they spend the journey leaning on the horn, cutting up other drivers, exploding with road rage or wolf-whistling passers-by, you might need to revise your ideas about their character (possibly for the better, if it’s a particularly hardcore sales job).

But your ‘interview’ isn’t finished yet. The next step is to drive to a horse – because, apparently, 'it is difficult to lead a horse unless that horse senses you are a genuine leader' (or a horse whisperer, we presume). Horses, it seems, 'are not susceptible to being sold to, hearing embellished stories or claims….they can sense the authenticity from your core, they can sense your energy.' In other words, horses are apparently better recruiters than you are. How demoralising.

One final note: if your candidate manages to run over the horse in the car, then you should probably fire them immediately.

In today's bulletin:

Banks seek new deal on nationalisation
City feels the pinch as jobless total rises
Rail fares rise as flight costs fall
Public sector needs to think small
MT's Little Ray of Sunshine: Unlocking management horsepower

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