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Leveraging data analytics to promote leadership

By Jack Campbell
26 April 2024 | 11 minute read
data concept mb

Effective leadership can often be scarce in the current competitive workforce. Data analytics can play an important role in helping nurture and develop talented leaders.

Effective leadership has the potential to steer organisations in the right direction and deliver outcomes. This is why it is crucial to source competent leaders.

PBC Hogan’s director, Alex Bond, noted that a business is a team, and leaders are the captains: “From our perspective, the buy-in from the top is always critical in terms of setting that organisational direction. Ultimately, when you think about organisations at large, they achieve their outcomes through teams and teams delivering on their objectives. And so, it’s not a solo sport, it’s a team sport.”

“Having really capable layers of leadership within an organisation is really important. And we see a lot of organisations that will be looking at those top three or four tiers of leadership and really understanding each of the different tiers and how to support and develop each tier to be as effective as possible.”

However, not all leaders are born that way. In fact, Bond recognises the skills of a leader are learnt. Treating leadership as a hard skill can help businesses develop effective talent from within rather than relying on hiring externally.

“Not all of us are fortunate enough to be born leaders. And some of those people exist, the unicorns here and there, but for the rest of us, it’s a skill that you have to understand and then learn and build capability towards over time,” Bond commented.

“What we’re seeing more and more is leadership being defined as a hard skill within an organisation’s set of capabilities that make them effective. For decades, leadership has been referred to as a soft skill, one of those elements that perhaps hasn’t been well understood.”

“We know that we can measure those behaviours and then we know that we can develop those behaviours as well. And so, with those three things in place, that’s what tips leadership into being a hard skill in the same way as any other technical skill that somebody might apply in their career.”

Measuring capability

This is where data analytics can come in to identify and develop effective leaders within an organisation. It begins with establishing a strategy and analysing behaviours.

Bond continued: “The starting point for approaching this is to establish a baseline … You start with strategy and you go, if this is the direction we want the business to head, and these are the strengths and capabilities that we want the business to display, what are those behaviours and capabilities in our leaders that are going to help us to deliver on that?”

“There are a couple of different ways you can establish that baseline. You can either get very nuanced and tailored and create capability frameworks and things like that from scratch that are really uniquely aligned to that organisation strategy, or you can accept sort of Pareto rule style.”

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, is a great way to organise and prioritise initiatives to deliver outcomes. As described by Hogan: “Simply put, the Pareto Principle states that 80 per cent of the outcomes will result from 20 per cent of the causes. In workplace terms, 80 per cent of work productivity will be created by 20 per cent of the employees.”

Treating leadership as a hard skill means it is learnable, and according to Bond, this means it is measurable.

“To be able to demonstrate that something is learnable has been learned, you’ve got to be able to measure it … The other upshot is that when you start to think about leadership as a hard skill, that is when you can start to think about communicating with the rest of the business in similar language,” he outlined.

Dealing with data anxiety

A key concern with data analytics is putting individuals at ease, as people can become anxious about the use of their data. Organisations looking to leverage data to deliver outcomes must also consider the feelings of staff.

Bond said: “We’ve been talking a lot about the organisational level, but absolutely, where the rubber hits the road in the work that we do is the individual.”

“Every candidate that takes an assessment goes through a consent process in terms of agreeing to the assessment process and us collecting their data as part of that, we do commit to. When we work with their data in an aggregate sense, it’s all deidentified, and so the data is collected for organisational purposes.”

He concluded: “When we work with it at an individual level, obviously, it’s identified because we’re giving people debriefs and things like that as well. We do work with Australian government security agencies, so the levels of data security and privacy that we can provide to clients is as high as you might ever ask for.”

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