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How to Get the Right Leader in the Right Seat at the Right Time

Acquiring, advancing, and retaining talent is essential for organizations to achieve their mission. A study of over 8,000 leaders across Asia, Europe, North America, and South Africa, conducted by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) discovered that leaders committed to talent management achieve 25 percent higher performance. These gains in performance resulted in a seven percent improvement in revenue and a six percent increase in profit. Unfortunately, the study also revealed that less than 20 percent of senior executives possessed the commitment and capability to achieve these talent outcomes.

Getting the right people leaders in the right seat at the right time is easier said than done. While there is no one single strategy that fits all situations some leading organizations are using predictive analytics to create data-based behavioral models to identify critical behaviors that predict organizational success. Social media, big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence-based applications are providing new insights to improve talent management decision making (See Table 1).

Measuring Leadership

While there is little agreement on a definition for leadership, there is broad agreement on leadership's importance. Effective leadership fosters innovation and creates a climate of excellence. Determining what to measure and how to measure leadership is essential to efficiently and effectively make equitable talent management decisions. Many CEOs point to a lack of qualified, ready now leadership talent as a significant threat to their organization's growth. Growth-oriented organizations need to understand if they have the right leaders with the right skills in the right jobs and have a sufficient pipeline of ready-now leaders for future growth.

Companies like Agilent are using leadership effectiveness audits based on external norms to improve business outcomes. Once the organization reaches the top quartile for a given metric, it revises the audit to introduce a new leadership quality metric. A tool being used by many top-performing companies to measure leadership is the value and promotability matrix or nine-box grid (see Figure 1). Leaders are rated as low, medium, or high for performance, values, competence, and ability to promote. Beyond differentiating leaders, this matrix helps organizations create personalized development plans and accountability for growing the leadership pipeline. In my experience, when implemented correctly, this tool and the additional insights from leadership measurement can add immediate organizational value. To obtain the most value from the nine-box grid, it is vital to clearly define value and promotability and use talent review meetings to gain alignment across the organization.

Ethical Considerations

As organizations make investments into new technologies to measure leadership attraction, development, and retention, there are potential ethical challenges. One such challenge is equity in decision making. Technology creates the potential for unintended bias or violations of employee privacy rights. In a high-profile case involving technology-enabled decision-making bias, an artificial intelligence algorithm used to predict violent crime recidivism was twice as likely to misclassify black defendants than white defendants. Building a reporting and accountability culture is an important step toward spotting and halting technology-enabled ethics violations.

We can partner with you to develop a customized solution to get the right leaders in the right seat at the right time. Walk with us and build a culture of leadership excellence that supports organizational growth. Contact us to get started today.


Dahlbom, P., Siikanen, N., Sajasalo, P., & Jarvenpää, M. (2019). Big data and HR analytics in the digital era. Baltic Journal of Management, 15(1), 120-138.

Ellehuus, C. (2012). Transforming business leaders into talent champions. Strategic HR Review, 11(2), 84-89.

Gandossy, R., & Guarnieri, R. (2008). Can you measure leadership? MIT Sloan Management Review.

Larson, J., Mattu, S., Kirchner, L., & Angwin, J. (2016). How we analyzed the COMPAS recidivism algorithm. ProPublica.

Ledet, E., McNulty, K., Morales, D., & Shandell, M. (2020). How to be great at people analytics. McKinsey & Company.

Oster, G. W. (2011). The light prize: Perspectives on Christian innovation. Virginia Beach, Va: Positive Signs Media.

Shen, K. (2011). The analytics of critical talent management [PDF]. People and Strategy. 34(2)

Sivathanu, B., & Pillai, R. (2019). Technology and talent analytics for talent management – a game-changer for organizational performance. International Journal of Organizational Analysis (2005), 28(2), 457-473.


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About the Author:

Jeff's knowledge and expertise include leadership development, coaching, and workforce strategies to achieve influence and grow organizations. Jeff Doolittle is the founder of Organizational Talent Consulting in Grand Rapids, MI. He can be reached at or by calling (616) 803-9020. Visit to learn more about executive coaching services provided.


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About Dr. Jeff Doolittle

He is the founder of Organizational Talent Consulting in Grand Rapids, MI, and Program Director of online graduate and continuing business education at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL. Executive leaders who work with Jeff describe him as thoughtful, decisive, intelligent, and collaborative. Jeff is a business executive with over twenty years of talent development and organizational strategy experience working with C-suite leaders in Fortune 100, Forbes top 25 private, for-profit, non-profit, and global companies in many industries.

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