Ability, Motivation, Identity

Ability, Motivation, Identity

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Source: book ‘Agile Talent – Nine Essentials Steps for Selecting Tomorrow's Top Talent’

Ability, Motivation, Identity

In our view, three factors should be involved in every selection of future proof top talent: ability, motivation and identity (skills, motivational needs and personality traits).

  • Ability stands for experience, skills and IQ, in other words qualities of ‘can’ and ‘know’. These are the traditional selection criteria that just by themselves have insufficient predictive validity of someone’s future success.
  • Motivation is about the motivational needs of talent. Harvard professor David McClelland argues that needs or motivations are those things we spend the most time thinking about. They are reliable predictors of our long-term behaviour (in both personal life and work). McClelland recognises three dominant motivational needs: the need for achievement, the need for affiliation and the need for power. When you act in line with one of your dominant needs, you will feel recharged and fulfilled. You charge your inner battery, as it were. Motivational needs can hardly be changed after adolescence and are not visible from the outside. Since the needs that people have on the basis of their motivational needs are usually quite strong and they claim/fulfill an even more dominant role under the influence of stress situations, it is important to include them in the selection procedure.
  • Identity has to do with someone’s personality traits. In a world that is changing rapidly, personality traits such as learning ability, adaptability and resilience will receive more and more attention when selecting tomorrow’s top talent.
  • 'IQ is by no means trivial. The difficulty with the concept of intelligence is that, on the one hand, based on empirical and scientific studies, it is an important ingredient for successful performance. On the other hand, in isolation, it does not guarantee success. Based on my work, I conclude that in the end it is above all a very important, even necessary, but not a sufficient condition. All the talents that come to the table here, without exception have a higher than average intelligence. All things considered, academic performance and high IQ 'sec' are poor predictors of future career success. It takes much more to achieve this. In the end, everything revolves around the cocktail of ability, motivation and identity (skills, motivational needs and personality traits)!'

    Ralf Knegtmans - Managing Partner De Vroedt & Thierry  (Source: 'How do you become CEO?', Ralf Knegtmans)
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Motivational needs and personality traits are increasingly important

In general, when selecting new talents, there is still an overvaluation of what they know and are capable of (skills), while the motivational needs (motivation) and identity traits (identity) of a candidate are increasingly determining future success. You can read about this extensively in our books ‘Agile Talent – Nine Essentials Steps for Selecting Tomorrow’s Top Talent’ and ‘How do you become CEO? About Skills, Personality Traits and Motivational Needs’ (Only available in Dutch).

We would be pleased to discuss with you how we work and what our expertise can mean for your organisation in a personal and confidential conversation.

We would be pleased to discuss with you how we work and what our expertise can mean for your organisation in a personal and confidential conversation.

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Measuring Ability, Motivation and Identity

We have tools to make ability, motivation and identity measurable and objectifiable. Thereby increasing the predictability of the success of candidates in a specific role and in a specific context.

Further reading

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