Predicting Excellence

Research Instruments

It’s the worst kept secret in the business world that what you know is worth only about 25% as a predictor of whether or not you will succeed.

The rest is based on fit. Meaning, how you fit with your boss, your team, your customers, and your organization’s culture. If you’ve ever been fired because the boss just didn’t appreciate you, or you’ve left a job because of a boss you just could not stand to work for one more moment, or because you just knew there were options that would be so much more fulfilling, then you probably know what I’m talking about.

So what does all this mean for business leadership?

In today’s economy, the demand to do more with less affects everything you do to bring value to your company.

The first challenge in a downturn is to confront this simple truth: people who were ‘the right people’ during good times may not be right during bad times. Resolving this conundrum is a way to add real value.  Start with some quantifiable data.

Find answers to these questions:

  • Has there been an increase in people problems?
  • Are you hearing from more managers that their teams seem less motivated?
  • Are your standard productivity measures off target, your accident counts rising, your undesired terminations soaring?

Then do some qualitative research. Answer these questions:

  • Do your people actually behave in the workplace as expected?
  • Are they meeting their goals?
  • Are they doing this in a way that helps other people make their goals too?
  • Do you see measurable effects of synergy between people, or are they cancelling out each other’s efforts?

Finally, can you link their behavior to the organization’s bottom line?  If they are the right fit in all (or most) ways – with their boss, their team mates, the organizational culture you want – they are likely to be more globally productive and you should be able to track this in the output of the work teams, no matter how that output is measured.

Here are some proven ways to create and predict excellence:

  • First, get a baseline measurement of the overall coherence of your organization.  Start with your own team and work your way through the others.  Check around for quality instruments to help you.
  • Using Role-Based Assessment predictors, examine each team for diversity of style. Wherever you find too much homogeneity, reconsider your recruiting and other talent management policies.  It may seem easier and better to work with people who think like you, but it also limits your potential for excellence.
  • When you find people who have a burning desire for better role-fit, find a way to make it happen—with minimal risk to the organization but with maximum stretch room and support.  If you don’t have a formal mentoring program, start one.
  • Get all your managers on board by starting with them. Show them the metrics, and the predictors. Then help them engage with each other to build a culture that will support the excellence you are seeking.
  • Finally, don’t forget to validate the relationship between your actions and the positive outcomes with appropriate metrics.  You’ll be increasing your value to your own organization as well as proving that you are excellent!

What steps can you take to closely examine the efficacy of your individual team players? How can you accurately assess whether they are right-fitted for the best overall outcomes? What can you do to smooth things out to reduce friction and improve efficiencies with the people you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

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Dr. Janice Presser is CEO of 
The Gabriel Institute
She can be reached at

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2 responses to “Predicting Excellence

  1. I love the outline for predicting outline you’ve provided. And cultural fit is critical. Still, I think you overstate “fit”.

    Check out the Colvin book “Talent is Overrated”, or even Gladwell’s “Outliers”. What you know is something, but drive is more.


  2. Coherence measures not only drive but the direction of your drive. Drive in opposition to your team is still drive but can be destructive to the overall mission. If you are interested in holistic qualitative measurement, contact me at DrJanice thegabrielinstitute com.


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