Apply the ambiguity continuum when assessing talent

One of the ways you can assess how well a leadership candidate will fit in with your company’s culture is to apply the ambiguity continuum to three areas: your company, the specific role, and the candidate(s).

Draw a horizontal line representing ambiguity, with the far left side noting low ambiguity [black and white, clear cut rules, etc.] and the far right side representing high ambiguity [little definition, highly fluid, etc.].


  1. Where does your company rate on this continuum? Does it operate in a highly ambiguous, fluid environment, or is it highly regulated, highly methods-based?
  2. Think about the level of ambiguity for a specific leadership role for which you are interviewing. Does this role require someone who can shape what needs to happen? Or, will this person join the company and be expected to execute what is already in place?
  3. Once you have gauged where your company and the role fall on the continuum, determine the range where you will need candidates to be. Then, assess where your leader candidates fall on this continuum. Ask candidates to self-assess then to discuss / provide examples of why they self-assessed as they did. Be aware of the questions and concerns the candidate raises during the interview process. Ask references where they would place a candidate on this continuum.

This is one of the keys to helping you build a strong, self-directed team and learning who needs what to succeed.

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