Kinder Morgan: Identifying Oil, Gas Leaders Using the GM Capabilities Model

The oil and gas industry is expected to hire a large number of new workers in the coming years as the most experienced and senior workers in the industry transition into retirement. New leaders will need to be identified and prepared to take on the challenges faced by the industry, and many energy sector hiring authorities have come up with various methods and tools, like Kinder Morgan, Inc’s General Manager (GM) Capabilities Model, to help assess the necessary qualities in leadership candidates.

Finding, identifying and growing those leaders of tomorrow is one of the most critical challenges that the energy industry faces today, according to hiring managers at Upstart 360’s Spring Summit. Potential leaders must quickly be detected and groomed to step up and take the place of the outgoing leaders and managers.

One’s skills, working style and personality are all factors that go into the determination of who is the best qualified from a pool of candidates vying for a job. Several HR directors said that at some companies, personality is assessed by using the Myers-Briggs Temperament Sorter or a similar kind of test to determine a candidate’s suitability for a given position. However, there are necessary skills for leadership positions that are not as amenable to testing, so subjectivity plays a role in determining which of two or more candidates is best qualified for a particular opening, which led to Kinder Morgan’s GM Capabilities Model, which was developed with internal and external resources, according to Roger Mosby, vice president of HR at Kinder Morgan.

The GM Capabilities Model identifies not only the qualities needed for general manager and other leadership positions, but also more senior positions such as director or vice-president, Mosby said. It has four concentric rings, or tiers, with the outer – tier one – ring being the “foundation” ring. Skills at this level are considered necessary to succeed in leadership positions. The second-tier ring is for “mission-critical” skills, the third-tier ring identifies the “very important” skills, and the fourth, innermost ring is the “VP candidate capabilities” ring.

Candidates are assessed beginning with the outer – tier one – ring of foundation skills. Because these attributes are ones that a person develops from life experiences and upbringing, they are generally not considered to be acquirable skills, Mosby said. They include adaptability and flexibility, composure, entrepreneurism and work ethic. Adaptability and flexibility could be described as someone who is not afraid to make decisions under uncertainty, and is not locked into one way of doing things, and is willing to entertain and use the ideas of others, Mosby said.

The “mission-critical” skills at the tier two level are skills that can generally be acquired and developed, and are considered to be very important for success in a leadership position. While not absolutely necessary, an absence of the mission-critical skills indicates a high likelihood of failure. Mission-critical skills include business and financial acumen, customer relations, decision-making ability, handling complexity and operational knowledge. Handling complexity can be described as prioritizing several issues and zeroing-in on a critical few, Mosby said.

Skills at the third tier – the “very important” skills – are not as necessary for success as the skills in the second tier, but workers with these “very important” skills generally have a greater chance of success than candidates without them. Skills at this level can be acquired and developed, and include team building and leading, communication skills, the ability to develop people, staffing ability, and an ability to write well and do formal presentations. 


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