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Leadership Assessments: The Definitive Guide to Evaluating and Enhancing Leadership Skills

Ever find yourself struggling to accept the notion that leaders are born ready to take the reins?

I’m with you.

Thanks to conditioning from ideas like the Great Man theory, many of us have been conditioned to believe that when it comes to leadership, you either have it or you don’t.


Leaders are made.

And leadership assessment is a critical component of improving as a leader.

As someone obsessed with the ins and outs of Learning and Development, I’ve seen firsthand how crucial it is to have leaders and the right ones steering the ship.

That’s where the magic of leadership assessments waltzes in.

Let me show you how they can help you.

Why Leadership Assessments Can Be the Unsung Heroes of the Business World

We’re all navigating fast-paced businesses.

Relying on a dusty, old leadership manual just won’t cut it. 

It’s like trying to use a map from the ’80s to find a new restaurant that opened last week.

You’re bound to miss the mark due to using an outdated resource.

Leadership assessments go beyond the surface to discover what makes each leader tick and help craft custom development paths that strengthen the leadership framework.

What You Will Learn in This Guide

  • Unpacking the Why: We’ll dig into why assessing leadership is not just a feather in your cap but a cornerstone for any organization.
  • The Swiss Army Knife of Assessment Tools: From classic assessment gadgets to personality quizzes and the all-seeing 360-degree view;), we’ve compiled the entire toolkit for you.
  • The Fine Art of Leveraging Insights: Gathering intel is half the battle; the real magic happens when you know how to wield this newfound knowledge to achieve success.

As we progress through the upcoming sections, we will examine the nuts and bolts of leadership assessments, from evaluating competencies to understanding leadership styles.

Hopefully, we’ll cover enough to make you go “Aha!” and add actionable nuggets you can start implementing to improve or help the leaders under your care.

Lace-up your boots, and let’s embark on this expedition to discover, assess, and refine the essence of leadership.

Adventure awaits.

Breaking Down Leadership Assessments

Leadership assessments seem simple on the surface.

A way to measure someone’s leadership proficiency and provide a clear path to improve in areas that need improvement.

But dig a bit deeper.

It’s a complex beast.

It gives us a peek into how leaders align with the company’s goals, 

culture, and future dreams.

So, What Are Leadership Assessments?

It’s the whole shebang of tools and processes to evaluate someone’s leadership game.

Emotional intelligence, strategic vision, how well they play with others, etc.

But it’s not just about catching the good stuff.

It’s also about finding where they can grow. Ensure they’re good for today and ready for tomorrow’s challenges.

Why Bother With Assessing Leadership? (Benefits)

  • Personal Growth: It can be a reality check for leaders.
  • Strategic Alignment: Ensures everyone’s rowing in the same direction.
  • Succession Planning: Spotting the next big thing in leadership.
  • Decision Making: Putting leaders where they’ll make the most impact.
  • Team Dynamics: Crafting teams that gel and drive results.

Leadership is everything.

It’s about guiding the ship through storms, inspiring the crew, and setting the course; leadership assessments are the compass.

By keeping leadership skills sharp and in line with the company’s mission, businesses are set up for success.

Diving Into the Core of Leadership Assessments

Picture this: You’re about to explore an ocean of possibilities in leadership assessment.

It’s vast and deep, filled with a treasure trove of tools, techniques, and secrets waiting to be explored.

Let’s break down the essentials that make leadership assessments genuinely work.

What’s at the Core? Competency Evaluations

Imagine having a map showing the exact skills and behaviors that scream ‘leader’ within your org.

That’s what competency evaluations are for.

With tools like the leadership skills inventory, we’re not just guessing where to go next but setting a course for natural growth.

There are many competencies you can assess. 

If I had to pick the most impactful, here are my top 3:

EQ: The Secret Ingredient for Leadership Success

EQ, or emotional intelligence, is the magic wand of leadership.

It’s about knowing your emotional terrain and navigating it like a pro, all while understanding and influencing the emotions of your crew.

Digging into EQ means exploring how well leaders recognize their feelings, keep calm, empathize, and build strong relationships.

Assessments here ensure our captains are ready to connect deeply and gracefully steer through emotional storms.

360-Degree Feedback: Seeing the Full Picture

Leadership isn’t a solo journey. It’s about how you’re seen through the eyes of your crew, peers, and even the birds flying overhead (a.k.a. everyone around you).

360-degree feedback pulls perspectives from all angles, spotlighting strengths and revealing hidden challenges.

It’s like having mirrors in every corner, ensuring no blind spot goes unchecked.

Situational Judgment: Navigating Uncharted Waters

Every leader faces moments that test their mettle. 

Situational judgment tests are the compass for these moments.

By presenting hypothetical dilemmas, we can observe a leader’s decision-making process, strategic mindset, and handling of conflicts and crises.

These assessments help us understand not only what leaders do but also how they think and react when the going gets rough.

My Favorite Leadership Assessment Tools

The role of a leader is always evolving so a one-track approach just isn’t going to cut it.

We need a mix of classic and next-gen methods to really get the full picture of what’s going on in a leader’s head and heart.

Here’s the lowdown on the key tools and techniques lighting up the Learning and Development scene.

Psychometric Tests: Peeking Inside the Leadership Mind

Want to know what makes a leader tick?

Psychometric tests are like x-ray vision for the mind and soul.

These tests break down a leader’s inherent personality and brainpower, natural tendencies, problem-solving skills, and even leadership style.

Think of these tests as a sneak peek into the fundamental elements that shape a leader’s actions and decisions, ensuring they’re a fit for the company’s vibe and vision.

the Best Psychometric Tests: Top Picks for Leadership Assessment

Let’s dive deep into the world of leadership assessments, where the right tools can be game-changers in understanding and enhancing leadership capabilities. Here are my top picks for psychometric tests, each bringing its own strengths to the table:

Hogan Assessments

Best for: Predicting Job Performance

Hogan leadership assessment

Hogan Assessments stand out for their deep dive into personality traits to forecast how individuals will perform in various job roles. This tool is a powerhouse for organizations aiming to align personality with professional demands.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive Personality Analysis: Delivers insights into deep-seated personality traits.
  • Performance Prediction: Uses personality data to predict future job performance effectively.
  • Scientifically Validated: Relies on robust scientific methods to ensure reliability and accuracy.

Check it out here.

MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)

Best for: Understanding Personality Types

MBTI Leadership Assessment

The MBTI is celebrated for its detailed breakdown of personality types, offering a window into how individuals perceive the world and make decisions. It’s a classic tool that helps in understanding not just oneself but also how to interact with others in the workplace.

Key Features:

  • Personality Typing: Categorizes individuals into 16 distinct personality types.
  • Workplace Integration: Helps predict and improve team dynamics and personal growth paths.
  • Widely Accepted: Recognized and used globally across various industries.

Check it out here.

DISC Assessment

Best for: Enhancing Teamwork and Communication

DiSC Leadership Assessment

Focused on identifying behavior types, the DISC assessment is the go-to for enhancing teamwork and communication within organizations.

It’s particularly useful for leaders looking to foster a harmonious and productive workplace.

Key Features:

  • Behavioral Insights: Focuses on understanding and categorizing communication and behavior styles.
  • Team Building: Offers strategies to improve workplace interactions and team efficiency.
  • Practical Application: Provides actionable advice tailored to individual and team contexts.

Check it out here.

Behavioral Assessments: Watching Leaders in Action

Theory’s cool, but let’s see what happens on the ground.

Behavioral assessments pull back the curtain on what leaders actually do when they’re in the hot seat.

Think tracking real-life behaviors and spotlighting how leaders handle challenges and interact with their teams.

With tools like the leadership behavior evaluation, it’s not just about what you know—it’s about how you act.

My favorite behavioral assessments are:

Korn Ferry Leadership Architect

Best for: Identifying Leadership Competencies

Kornferry Leadership Assessment

The Korn Ferry Leadership Architect sets a gold standard in mapping out leadership competencies and behaviors.

It provides a comprehensive framework that helps organizations pinpoint key traits and skills necessary for effective leadership.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive Framework: Offers a detailed structure for assessing various leadership competencies.
  • Behavioral Identification: Focuses on both observable and underlying behaviors that define successful leaders.
  • Developmental Insights: Provides actionable insights that aid in the development of leadership skills across levels.

Check it out here.

360 Degree Feedback

Best for: Comprehensive Feedback Collection

Survey Sparrow Leadership Assessment

360 Degree Feedback is an invaluable tool for gathering detailed insights about a leader’s performance from a full circle of colleagues, including peers, subordinates, and superiors.

This method is enhanced by using platforms like Survey Sparrow, known for its robust and user-friendly interface, providing a clean and efficient way to collect and manage feedback.

Key Features:

  • Multi-source Feedback: Gathers feedback from all directions, offering a holistic view of leadership effectiveness.
  • User-Friendly Platform: Utilizes Survey Sparrow’s efficient system to streamline the feedback process.
  • Actionable Results: Delivers results that are not only comprehensive but also actionable, guiding leadership development effectively.

Check it out here.

Role-Playing and Simulations: Leadership Under the Microscope

Nothing beats seeing a leader in action.

Role-playing and simulations throw them into the thick of it, testing their skills and reactions in controlled chaos.

Here, leaders face the heat of real-life situations, getting immediate feedback that’s gold for growth.

It’s the perfect lab to pinpoint training needs and shape leaders ready for anything.

Check out my preferred role-playing and simulation tools:

Leadership Challenge Simulation

Best for: High-Pressure Decision Making

Simulation Studios Leadership Assessment

The Leadership Challenge Simulation plunges leaders into the thick of action, testing their ability to make swift, effective decisions in high-pressure situations.

This tool is perfect for those looking to see how potential leaders handle stress and responsibility.

Key Features:

  • Interactive Scenarios: Engages leaders with dynamic, challenging situations that mimic real-life pressures.
  • Decision-Making Focus: Specifically designed to test and develop a leader’s quick-thinking and problem-solving abilities.
  • Engagement and Learning: Provides an engaging way to learn and hone leadership skills that are crucial in critical moments.

Check it out here.

Harvard Business Publishing Simulations

Best for: Real-World Management Experience

HBP Simulations Leadership Assessment

Developed by a mix of academic and industry experts, Harvard Business Publishing Simulations offer leaders a chance to tackle real-world management challenges in a controlled, simulated environment.

This tool is ideal for those who wish to experience and manage complex business situations without the real-world risk.

Key Features:

  • Expertly Designed: Crafted by leading academic and business professionals to reflect actual management challenges.
  • Real-World Scenarios: Simulates a range of management issues from strategic decision-making to operational dilemmas.
  • Educational and Engaging: Offers a deeply educational experience that is both engaging and informative, fostering critical thinking and leadership skills.

Check it out here.

Best Practices & Tips for Interpreting Leadership Assessment Results

Sure, running leadership assessments is cool, but the real fun is figuring out what those numbers and comments really mean.

It’s like solving a mystery, where every clue (a.k.a., score and piece of feedback) leads you closer to understanding how leaders and organizations can grow from the insights gathered. 

Let’s dig in to understand the best way to approach this.

Diving Deep Into Scores and Feedback

Scores and feedback are just numbers and words on their own.

When you compare individual scores with industry benchmarks, you unleash true power. It’s about seeing the bigger picture within your playground (the organization).

Tapping into feedback, especially from 360-degree reviews, reveals the good, the bad, and the actionable.

This deep dive into data sets the stage for crafting strategies that hit the mark.

Spotting Patterns and Common Themes

Patterns are the breadcrumbs leading to critical insights. Whether it’s over time or across the leadership board, finding common themes reveals:

  • The strengths and challenges keep popping up, paving the way for big-picture moves.
  • The leadership vibes that jive well with the company culture.
  • Where the gaps in your leadership development might be, hinting at what’s next on the list of priorities for training.

Tuning into these patterns elevates individual growth and sharpens the entire organizational game plan and vibe.

Mapping Out the Future: Career Progression and Development

Interpreting results should involve plotting career paths using the treasure map of insights you’ve gathered. 

It’s really about crafting development plans that are as unique as the leaders, using tools like the leadership skills assessment.

Kicking off mentorship or coaching journeys based on where they shine or could use a polish ensures leaders aren’t just surviving but thriving, ready for whatever comes their way.

Navigating Challenges in Leadership Assessment

Plotting the course through leadership assessment can be challenging. 

Here’s what to look out for and how to overcome.

Avoid Biased Results

Straight-up bias is a no-go. 

Whether talking consciously or the sneaky unconscious, bias can toss your results into murky waters. 

To steer clear:

  • Stick to the Map: Use tried-and-true standardized tools and frameworks. Keeping things consistent across the board helps eliminate bias and keep the assessment fair.
  • Go Incognito: With 360 reviews, anonymity can be your best mate, letting folks spill the tea without fear.
  • Call in the Calvary: Sometimes, you need unbiased third-party experts to keep the evaluation straight, especially when the stakes are high.

Keeping evaluations on the level means fairness, trust, and legitimate insights into who’s ready to take the helm.

Feedback Resistance

Real talk – not everyone’s jazzed about hearing where they need to up their game. But handle it right, and you can turn those frowns upside down:

  • Positivity is Key: Spin that feedback with a focus on growth and opportunity, not just where the gaps are. It is even better if you can spotlight their shining moments.
  • Open the Floor: Make room for a chat where leaders can digest, discuss, and debate feedback. It’s all about building bridges, not walls.
  • Make It Real: Tie that feedback to actual scenarios or outcomes. It helps leaders see beyond the moment and grasp the bigger picture and its impact.

With a touch of finesse and constructive vibes, feedback can become a catalyst for growth rather than just a checklist item.


Confidentiality is golden. 

Leaders will open up and take feedback to heart when they trust the process is legit. 

Here’s the playbook:

  • Clear Skies Ahead: Be upfront about what’s happening, why, and how the insights will be used. Transparency reduces the jitters and builds trust.
  • Fort Knox It: Ensure that personal data is locked down tight, especially with digital tools.
  • Private Parleys: When sharing compassionate feedback, keep it private. Respect goes a long way.

Trust isn’t just good manners; it’s critical for getting genuine insights and making the assessment count.

Organizational Culture

Feedback isn’t just about the words; it’s about weaving it into the very fabric of your team. When feedback is as natural as setting sail, everyone grows:

  • Build Your Safe Harbors: Ensure your crew feels comfortable sharing and receiving feedback, knowing it’s all for the greater good.
  • Master the Art: Equip everyone with the skills to give and get feedback like pros, turning it into a tool for growth and not just criticism.
  • Close the Loop: Ensure feedback isn’t thrown into the wind. Act on it, share the course corrections, and show the crew that their voice steers the ship, too.

Embracing feedback isn’t just lovely; it’s the cornerstone of a thriving, agile team ready to tackle the high seas of change together.

Final Thoughts: The Transformative Power of Leadership Assessment

If you made it this far – congrats! 

You are now a huge step ahead in understanding how to deploy and maximize leadership assessments.

Here’s the big takeaway: leadership assessment is a game changer. 

Think of leadership assessment as a tool and your North Star of development. 

It’s about figuring out where you stand now and lighting up the path to where you need to go. 

This whole process of assessing, evaluating, and reflecting is the blueprint for growth—for you, your team, and the entire company.

We’re always jazzed about investing in the latest tools, tech, and strategies. 

But guess what? 

The real MVPs are the people. Leaders at every level—whether commanding the fleet or just starting out—are the ones who shape an organization’s identity and direction.

Treat leadership assessment as something other than another item on your to-do list. Make it the bedrock of your growth game. Embrace it as an ongoing journey, not just a one-off checkup.

Remember what John C. Maxwell said: “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” 

Let’s live up to that and prioritize leadership assessment to unleash its transformative power. 

Who’s with me?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the primary objective of leadership assessment?

The main goal of leadership assessment is to evaluate and understand an individual’s leadership capabilities, strengths, and areas for improvement. This information aids in tailoring development plans and ensures the right leaders are in suitable roles.

How often should leadership assessments be conducted?

Leadership assessment should be a continuous process. While formal assessments might occur annually or biennially, fostering a culture of regular feedback ensures that leaders are always growing and adapting.

Are digital assessment platforms effective for leadership evaluations?

Yes, digital assessment platforms provide a comprehensive and efficient way to evaluate leadership skills. They offer scalability, real-time feedback, and the ability to incorporate a variety of assessment tools. However, the effectiveness also depends on the quality of the tools used and how the results are interpreted and acted upon.

What’s the difference between 360-degree feedback and traditional performance reviews?

Traditional performance reviews often involve feedback from a direct superior. In contrast, 360-degree feedback gathers perspectives from peers, subordinates, superiors, and sometimes even external stakeholders, offering a holistic view of a leader’s performance.

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