What could PRISM profiling reveal about those eager to step into Boris Johnson’s shoes? 

The process of selecting a new Conservative Leader has officially begun. Manifestos are pinned by the eager hopefuls, calling on peers for patronage in the early stages before things heat up and candidates are whittled down to a couple of front runners. 

 But what do we really need from a new PM? 

And more importantly what are the qualities of the candidates putting their name in the hat for the leadership contest? 
As you’d expect, many have significant experience serving in government or industry together with relevant qualifications by any measure. 

Is there more to explore beyond pledges, priorities and technical expertise when choosing a successor? 

Some might argue that their behaviour plays a more significant part – particularly given the events leading up to Boris Johnson stepping down. Although I'm no political pundit, I do know there are two additional aspects that when identified clearly, will help make a sound appointment decision. 
Ensuring a more promising fit in the uncertainty of the candidate – role – expectation equation. 
“Put simply, getting clarity on what the government and country needs from their leader in the current flux and what an individual candidate has to offer”. 
Exploring these two aspects would add an additional, invaluable layer of insight to the decision-making process. 

What is PRISM profiling? 

There is a plethora of profiling tools available to HR and Learning and Development practitioners, providing a helpful framework when exploring behaviour in a number of situations. 
At 42think we specialise in developing leaders and senior teams, therefore it’s important for us to choose a model that can stand a bit of credibility bashing and cynicism as these things often (and sometimes rightly) experience in our line of work. 
We are big fans of credible profiling tools and PRISM in particular. 
PRISM offers a stable of tools to identify people’s behaviour preferences. The model approaches behaviour from the perspective of Neuroscience rather than psychological theory, therefore adds a strong level of credibility. 
Based on the discovery that behaviour originates in the brain, this instrument simplifies the complex science behind understanding ourselves and others and gets people talking. 
That all gets a big tick from us, plus PRISM allows for contradictions, as you’ll see when you explore a report. 
Often, with experience, individuals blend their natural behaviours with learned, adapted ones, therefore growing their behavioural skill set. This can result in inevitable contradictions and PRISM allows and reports on them which reflects what we see in behaviour in real life. 
“For me the most interesting factor in a PRISM report is that it separates out someone’s underlying or preferred behaviours and blind spots from what (they believe) is needed in their role”. 
Even if it is based on their perception, it opens up a lovely bundle of perspective for exploration. 
You may be self-aware of your behavioural preferences combination, but what about exploring how well your behaviours fit with various roles or cultures? 
That’s where the magic happens. 
Or not. 
For example, you may not necessarily look for the same behavioural traits in a Finance Director who will steady the ship of solid yet highly regulated organisation versus a fastpaced digital start up seeking high growth with involved investors in a dynamic and evolving marketplace. 
Perhaps behaviour nuances could be the difference that makes the difference – enabling the individual and organisation to thrive. 
Just a thought, but something we cause clients to think about. 
Some of the PRISM reports delve into 

So how does this link to the race for PM? 

There's no doubt that the past few years have been increasingly turbulent what with the hangover of Brexit, COVID and global unrest creating huge challenges. Few of us would happily take on the mantle of steering a fragmented team through choppy waters, trying to regain the confidence of a weary population. 
For those who are up for the challenge, what kind of leader is a good fit? 
Someone who can lead from the front, make tough decisions and drive progress even if their decisions are unpopular? 
A leader who can engage and enable colleagues, show humility and balance hearts and minds to create a ‘one voice’ ethos? 
Someone who knows how things work, a calm figurehead who gets the messaging and tone of voice right? 
Or a creative leader that looks at things differently, not from the old guard but someone with a fresh perspective? 
Perhaps a person who gets the job done, keeps their head down and is steadfast in delivering on their promises for the greater good not themselves? 
Trust of course comes into it, but is it the trust of delivering on promises or more that your moral compass is pointing in the right direction? Or both. 
You could say we need all of these, and a good all-rounder. 
Is that possible and is that what we want? 
There is a difference to purporting to be an all-rounder and having behavioural adaptability; flexing your natural behaviours to suit the person on situation. 
For example, knowing that attention to detail is your nemesis (ahem) but recognising it and putting in place a workaround or other support mechanism may provide more humility and enable a more honest fit rather than diluting strengths and papering over blind-spots. 
Profiling the front runners and the colleagues they'll be interacting with would be a fascinating exercise, helping them to better understand themselves and each other, enabling them to work better together, of course if they had both the intent and the support to enable them to do so. 
Maybe with an additional level of insight, the best fit could be much more likely? 
If you’re a candidate or work in parliament and you’re interested, we’re up for a bit of profiling – confidentially of course. Drop me a message and let’s connect. 
It’s more likely that like me you’re an observer in this process, and reflecting on what you want from your leader to navigate what may lie ahead. 
Susie Guthrie FCIPD 
42think Ltd 
Tagged as: Prism
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