Reinventing the Leader-Selection Process: The U.S. Army’s new approach to managing talent

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Behavioral Sciences and Leadership

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Harvard Business Review

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The U.S. Army has long struggled with toxic and inept leaders, and no wonder: It has historically chosen battalion commanders, a linchpin position, on the basis of 90-second file reviews. Last year it undertook an ambitious revamping of that selection process, which now involves four full days of physical, cognitive, and psychological assessments and interviews. The author, a lieutenant colonel who served as an adviser to the task force that designed and implemented the new process, describes it in granular detail, including a variety of rigorous measures for reducing interviewer bias and ensuring diversity and inclusion. Although specifically aimed at improving the validity, reliability, and developmental impact of the army’s executive-leader selections, the redesigned process offers important lessons for any organization seeking to bolster its talent assessment and promotion practices.

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