Talent Grid

Our vision on leadership

Talent Grid


Recognising a leader is not always easy. What behavioural characteristics make a leader successful? How does he or she stand out from others? Successful leaders are scarce. So it is not without reason that this is one of the most important research topics in management literature.

Communication in one ‘language’ on the complex issue of leadership qualities 

Based on our years of practical experience and research among HRM directors and managers, we developed the Talent Grid. We have published some of our work on the Talent Grid in “Met de Talent Grid naar de top” in De Gids voor Personeelsmanagement [To the Top with the Talent Grid in The Guide to Personnel Management] by Rainier Beelen & Niels Willems.

The Talent Grid is a simple and accessible model that enables communication in one ‘language’ on the complex issue of leadership qualities. The model is adaptable and applicable at all stages of the search, whether selecting, assessing, or developing leadership. The Talent Grid clarifies which competencies are important for successful leadership in organisations.

Combining two dimensions

Our research shows that a good leader must be able to combine two dimensions. Namely, the ability to set and to achieve goals based on one’s own vision, combined with the ability to steer the achievement of those goals in a socially intelligent way. A good leader must, therefore, be a ‘challenger’ and must also be ‘organisation-sensitive’. When these two dimensions of leadership are plotted as the axes on a graph, a grid with four different behavioural typologies emerges: facilitator, innovator, asset, and competitor. Innovator is the truly successful leader. 

All four ideal types have their own value in an organisation. However, our research shows that the ‘innovator’ is the truly successful leader. These are statistically in the minority. This scarcity arises because the Talent Grid combines two dimensions that are not easily reconciled.

People who are naturally ‘challengers’ and challenge their environment do not naturally score high on the ability to interact well with others sensitively. In contrast, people who have a great sense of mutual relationships, and can act well on those feelings, are generally not dominant people who want to control things.

“All four ideal types are valuable in their own way, but our research shows that the “innovator”is the truly succesful leader.”

Each type has its own qualities

Recognising the ‘innovator’ is therefore very important. Being familiar with the other three types from the Talent Grid is also valuable. Each type has its own qualities, and these influence how suitable a person will be to fill the position, realise the objectives, and lead in a specific organisation.