Legos: Your Secret Weapon for Evaluating Leadership?

Lately, it seems everyone I sit down with is burdened with a manager/boss/superior who cannot communicate the task at hand. In most cases, it sounds like the people who put them in that position should have known that ahead of time. Here's a way to avoid that mistake with your next hire or promotion:

The Lego Challenge

  • The night before the interview, the candidate is given a photo of a completed Lego toy.  They are told it will be assembled during their interview, and the clock will be running. Accuracy is paramount.
    • The candidate may be given the instructions ahead of time (up to you) but none of the actual pieces.
  • Upon arriving, the candidate is presented with the team they will be leading, if they are hired/promoted, and told these people will assemble the toy at their instruction. The candidate may not touch any of the pieces. Surprise!
  • The candidate is given a few minutes to strategize with their team, and then the clock starts.
    • The clock is not intended to be an actual judgement of success/failure. It is there to see how the potential hire/promotion deals with urgency. Will they continue to prioritize accuracy, or will they race to "get it done?"
  • Following the exercise, the team members grade the person who led them, and you match that with your observations.

This exercise should teach you several things about the candidate. Can they clearly communicate? Can they delegate? Are they sensitive to the differing communication styles of their team members (especially effective on internal hires)? Can they accurately execute small tasks, while keeping the bigger goal/picture in mind? How do they deal with setbacks? How do they work under pressure? You get the picture.

Can this work at your company? Would it be a good training exercise for your managers? Are you actually willing to give it a try?