Leaders: How to Build the Perfect Organizational Machine

Money Maker

Strong leaders know one thing above all else: At the end of the day, organizational success is all about, and only about, one thing: Performance.

Without performance, your future is set… Meaning: You are done!

Ask yourself this:

  • When trying to secure the right people in your organization to help produce growth, are you tired of the employee selection “crap shoot?”
  • Would you like to lower the risk of hiring the wrong people?
  • Would you like to feel secure in your hiring practices, processes, and procedures?

Organizational Success

Organizations become successful and stay that way because their people are high performers in their given role, for their assigned manager, and in their unique culture.

But before we go any further, let’s define “organizational success.”

In my experience, sustained organizational success is delivered by people who perform at a high level, who are strongly engaged in what they’re doing, who understand the alignment of their job role with the organization’s mission, and whose productivity is “way beyond the norm.”

Multiplying Production Results

Like most organizations, you probably have some of these “abnormally high producers,” but wouldn’t it be great if ALL your people were this way?

“Impossible!” you say? 

I don’t think so.  And Dr. John Marshall didn’t think so back in the ‘70s.

Marshall (a Canadian) was a hockey player who noticed a very interesting phenomenon:

While seldom the most talented guy on the team, he kept getting elevated to the next level. At the same time, many of the “wizards of stick handling” did not get the promotion to the next level.

After his hockey career was done (he played a year in the NHL, and coached in Italy), Marshall got his PhD in psychometrics, based on a unique and arresting thesis (the elements of high performance (at least the talent aspect of it) could be identified, measured and predicted.)

From that work, he founded the SelfManagement Group in Toronto (which built the world’s first online sales assessment), and 10 million assessments later, he’s still going strong.

Core Premises of High Performance

To fully appreciate where Dr. Marshall is coming from, we need to understand his core premises:

1) High Performance is a combination of three elements:

  • a person’s talent
  • their effort
  • the opportunity they have for making their contribution

2) Talent comes, primarily, from three “hard-wired” constructs – a combination of our DNA and how we were brought up.

They are identified as:

  • Enterprising Potential (or  Initiative)
  • Achievement Potential (or Motivation)
  • Independence Potential (or Need for Structure)

Unlike most others, the assessments based on Dr. Marshall’s work, are both predictive and normative, so their level of reliability and predictability is astonishingly high.

3) Once you assess managers and high performers, you can build a “profile of potential success” that you then match to in your hiring and promotions, succession planning and team building. In other words, no more people in jobs where they are not successful; in fact, you get hires who are “clones” of the profiles of your highest producers.

Pretty soon, you’re raising the bar so that the new “average” begins to approach the “way beyond the norm” production level from before.

4) But hard-wired Talent is only one piece of the equation. Just because people “can do” the job doesn’t mean they “will do” the job. This is where effort comes in.  Effort is so fundamental to high performance that it ALWAYS trumps Talent.

In other words, if you have a choice, ALWAYS choose high-effort people.

Robust, targeted behavioral interviews will uncover “effort history” ; these structured interviews get people to recount (using specific examples) their past history of putting out the effort “required” to achieve a particular kind of success.    Once you have high effort/high talent individuals on board, then you must optimize their Opportunity.
5) Opportunity is the third piece of the performance equation, It consists of an organization’s vision, mission, culture and management.  If you match the profile of the employees to the profile of the organization, you’ll achieve meaningful “line of sight” between their efforts and the aims of the organization.

  • High-initiative people need to work for high-initiative leaders
  • Independent people need to work for managers who delegate well
  • Team-oriented people need to work for team-oriented leaders
  • People with a strong achievement drive must be in roles that feed that drive, etc.

Where there is a solid match between the profiles of the leaders and the people being led, and between the people and the organization, failure simply is NOT an option.

Rolling the Dice, Again?

So how is this state of success achieved?  Those of us who have been in the “hiring game” for a while probably start from this perspective:

“Hiring is ALWAYS going to be a crapshoot.  The best you can ever do is load the dice in the house’s favor.” 

Until I saw Dr. Marshall’s assessment and was introduced to job models and other advanced selection tools, I agreed with that skeptical, experience-based perspective.

As a supplement to the assessments, you need to start the hiring and selection process with a detailed job description (what is called a “High Performance Job Model”.)

This is a detailed, multi-page document that outlines ALL the expectations and deliverables of a given job.

The Job Model

The Job Model refines the expectations of what will be required by the individual(s) whom you’re looking to hire, and all subsequent matching activities are thus enhanced.  The resulting process simplifies recruiting, resume reviews, screening decisions, and all preliminary interviewing.

Not only is this document integral to hiring, but it also becomes the main referential for on-boarding activities, training, appraisals and succession planning.  The assessments and job models are foundational to performance transformation through hiring.

Therefore, the key to hiring for leaders is the realization that knowing what you expect from your people and with using the right tools, you CAN get this right, hire after hire after hire.  Once the inputs are correct and aligned, the outputs begin to accelerate in a big way, and “High Performance” becomes the name of the only song the organization knows how to sing.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

Image Sources:  greensmachine.us

2 responses to “Leaders: How to Build the Perfect Organizational Machine

  1. Hey Scott: Great article and I agree completely. When folks are feeling as though they just can’t get ahead or employers are feeling that they just don’t seem to be able to hire the right people, they need to read this. I am going to tweet it and put it in the file I keep where I borrow great articles and use them in my seminars :-). You will of course receive all of the credit. Keep up the great work!


  2. Wayne — As I wrote in my e-mail to you: coming from you that is VERY meaningful and valuable feedback. I have several of your posts in my “reference” file. Thnx.


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