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An Application Tool for the MBTI Instrument.

Best-Fit Leaders Balance Learned and Innate Abilities—Here’s Why Plus, a Powerful Selection Tool That Works

Debra Cannarella
VP of Operations, High Performing Systems, Inc.

From the C-suite to the front line, HR professionals and hiring managers understand that Learned Abilities are easy to evaluate from a resume and interview. There are other aspects of a candidate—Innate Abilities—that are hidden and harder to ascertain from a resume screen. When Innate Abilities go unassessed, managers can make hiring and promotion mistakes. Mistakes that cost organizations valuable time and money.
Learned and Innate Abilities Explained

Learned Abilities refer to a candidate’s knowledge, skills and experience acquired over time. A resume review will indicate whether an applicant has the education, training and experience to perform well in a job. This aspect of leadership potential looks primarily at a leader’s past to see how closely their background aligns with the new role.

Innate Abilities refer to Cognitive Ability, Emotional Intelligence and other aspects of a person’s leadership potential that are more difficult to evaluate based on resume analysis alone. You can’t simply look over a list of past accomplishments to determine if a candidate can perform successfully in a new environment. This is especially true if the new position is at a higher role level, has a higher level of complexity or ambiguity, or is larger in scope or project duration than what the candidate has done in the past. Also, if the candidate’s Emotional Intelligence is not a match for the job, the potential for a poor hire is exacerbated.

Using Science to Improve Selection

This is where a scientifically-validated assessment can help. By applying a rigorous scientific process like the Leadership Potential Equation to evaluate candidates’ Innate and Learned Abilities, your organization can significantly increase hiring success. Comparing your applicants’ Abilities to the job requirements will help you determine those with the best potential to succeed if hired.
In some cases, missing aspects of Learned Abilities (experience, skills, etc.) can be overcome. The “right” candidate can be taught these pieces through education, training, experience, etc. Missing the critical aspects of Innate Abilities (Cognitive Ability, Emotional Intelligence, etc.), however, cannot be trained as easily—if at all. This part of the pre-hire screening is hard to measure and requires a scientifically-validated assessment administered by an expert.

Welcome Aboard Best-Fit Candidate!

Once you’ve completed the two-pronged hiring approach using both Learned Abilities and Innate Abilities, you’ll know which candidate is most likely to fit your job best—despite any “hidden” aspects that make that person human. Your new hire will have potential challenges, and the assessment will identify those challenges. The leader’s on-boarding and development plan can be customized to address those challenges. You might be able to reshape the job or surround the leader with a strong team to fill in some of the gaps. These combined efforts will help you get as close as possible to hiring that “perfect” leader.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.

Debra Cannarella is the VP of Operations at High Performing Systems, Inc. (HPS), a consulting company that provides assessments, consulting and training solutions to help organizations excel. HPS conducts certification training on the EQ-i 2.0 assessment and provides individual, leader and executive coaching to clients. Contact Debra by email at

High Performing Systems is an award-winning world leader in EQ-i 2.0® certification (since 2005), EI training and implementation, leader coaching and success profiles. Call 706-769-5836 to talk with an experienced EI practitioner about your organization's specific needs.

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