Common leadership assessment tools and what they actually measure

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  3. Common leadership assessment tools and what they actually measure

Choosing the right leadership assessment tool really comes down to what you are trying to do with it.

  • What are you hoping to uncover?
  • What do you want to use the data for?

Key considerations when choosing leadership assessment tools

Work out why you are doing the assessment in the first place

What’s important is that you understand what you’re looking to do with the assessment and match up the assessment to that purpose. For example, if you’re trying to increase a leader’s self-awareness as to how their behaviour impacts on others, you need to use an assessment that shows how their behaviour is perceived by others.

Determine how important accuracy and validity are to you

If you want to make hiring / firing decisions about individuals purely based on the results of the assessments that you run (for example, which candidates to exclude from a recruitment process) it’s going to be super important that you do your research into the validity of the assessment.

You’re going to want to ensure that the assessment tool you’re using is statistically valid in that it is:

  • Reliable
  • Objective
  • Benchmarked
  • Blind to issues such as gender, race and socioeconomic background

On the other hand, if it's about understanding individuals and differences, that is more for informational and educational purposes, you might not be as concerned with scientific validity.

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Choosing the right leadership assessment is critical to gathering the right data!

Evalute practicality and user experience

You’ve got to weigh up the following practial considerations:

  • Cost – how much it costs you to develop and administer the assessment
  • Scalability – how quickly and efficiently you can administer the assessment to large numbers of candidates
  • User experience – how people feel when they complete the assessment and whether or not it produces “assessment fatigue” (yes, that’s a real thing)

With so many assessments available on the market, you may want to combine multiple assessments from different providers. But remember – you’ve got to consider how each user is going to feel when completing those assessments. We’ve seen it many times before:

Don't end up like this guy
If employees don't want to complete the assessments, or use the results, the whole exercise will be wasted.

Selecting the right type(s) of leadership assessments:

Personality

This type of assessment is looking at the aspects of personality that drive an individual’s behaviour. The only option for assessing personality is through self-reporting. However, the validity will come from how the questions are constructed and how easy it is to ‘fake’ the assessment.

For a good breakdown on what factors are considered under ‘personality’, have a look at The Big Five Factors

Behavioural style

These types of assessments measure patterns of observable behaviour. The frameworks that behaviour is measured against will differ depending on the assessment and theory behind it.

Assessments that assess how an individual’s behaviour is perceived by others (360 style assessments) are going to be more useful for leadership than those that assess an individual’s self-perception of their behaviour (self-reported assessments). But self-reported assessments do have their place!

Skills

A skills assessment identifies skill proficiency, or gap. In a leadership sense, this helps you understand whether or not individuals are proficient in a leadership skill set i.e. understand how to carry out all of the tasks involved in a leadership role.

Cognitive ability

These types of assessments measure various mental abilities, such as verbal and numerical ability, reasoning and reading comprehension. Some cognitive ability assessments measure distinct abilities (e.g., verbal, numerical), while others measure a combination of different abilities to provide a measure of general mental ability.

Common leadership assessment tools

Leadership Success Knowledge and Skills Assessment
Leadership Success
Classification Skills
Type Scenario based testing
What is assessed

Commonly used to assess emerging leaders, frontline managers and some middle managers, this assessment tests knowledge and skills accross 40 different common management scenarios. These represent the 40 universal, fundamental leadership skills.

Participants are asked to select both the best and worst way to handle a given scenario and their results are benchmarked against others who have previously taken the assessment to identify skills gaps.

Cost involves

Assessment OR Assessment + Debrief

Included in development programs

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®)
Myers Briggs
Classification Behavioural style
Type Self reported
What is assessed

Behavioural style or tendencies within the Myers-Briggs Framework (based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types):

  • How you get energy (Extraversion v Introversion)
  • How you take in information (Sensing or Inituition)
  • How you make decisions (Thinking or Feeling)
  • How you deal with the world (Judging or Perceiving).
Cost involves

Assessment only

DISC Profile
DISC
Classification Behavioural style
Type Self reported
What is assessed

Behavioural style or tendencies within the DISC Framework:

  • Are you direct (assertive) or indirect (more reserved)
  • Are you open with your emotions or more guarded
  • Are you fast paced in your decision making, or need more time to consider your options?
  • Are you task-focused or people-focused?
Cost involves

Assessment only

CliftonStrengths
Gallup
Classification Behavioural style
Type Self reported
What is assessed

Behavioural style or tendencies within the “Strengths” matrix:

  • Executing
  • Influencing
  • Relationship Building
  • Strategic Thinking

The idea is that you then focus on developing those areas in which you have achieved high scores i.e. your strengths.

Cost involves

Assessment only

Life Styles Inventory | Management/Impact | Leadership/Impact
Human Synergistics
Classification Behavioural style
Type Self reported and observation by others
What is assessed

Behavioural style or tendencies within the relevant competency framework for the Human Synergistics tool:

  • Lifestyles (Individuals)
  • Management
  • Leadership
Cost involves

Assessment + LSI certification is required

Leadership Circle Profile
The Leadership Circle
Classification Behavioural style
Type Self reported and observation by others
What is assessed

Behavioural style or tendencies within the Leadership Circle Competency Framework. These include:

  • Creative leadership competencies that contribute to a leader’s effectiveness
  • Reactive leadership styles that limit effectiveness, authentic expression and empowering leadership
  • Internal assumptions about ones-self
Cost involves

Assessment + the report must be debriefed through a Leadership Circle coach

The Birkman Signature
Birkman
Classification Behavioural style
Type Self reported
What is assessed

Behavioural style or tendencies within the Nine Birkman Behaviour Components:

Social Energy, Physical Energy, Emotional Energy, Self-Consciousness, Assertiveness, Insistence, Incentives, Restlessness, Thought

Cost involves

Assessment + Birkman certification is required

Leadership Impact 360
Saville
Classification Behavioural style
Type Self reported and observation by others
What is assessed

Behavioural style or tendencies across the 3P Leadership Impact Model:

Professional, People, Pioneering.

Cost involves

Assessment + Saville certification is required

Hogan Personality Inventory | Hogan Development Survey | Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory
Hogan
Classification Personality
Type Self reported and observation by others
What is assessed

Hogan provides a library of complementary personality assessments with the key goal of facilitating strategic self awareness in leaders so that they understand how to manage their own behaviour to increase their workplace success

Cost involves

Assessment + Hogan certification is required

Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)
SHL
Classification Personality
Type Self reported
What is assessed

SHL’s OPQ assessment assesses 32 personality characteristics.

Note: SHL has a vast library of assessments covering personality, skills, behavioural styles and cognitive ability. We have just covered the most well-known assessment within the leadership development industry

Cost involves

While SHL certification is available, you can also self service and purchase the assessments online

Korn Ferry 360 surveys viaEdge
Korn Ferry
Classification

Cognitive Ability, Learning agility,

Personality and Skills

Type Blended assessments
What is assessed

Korn Ferry certification is required

Cost involves

Certification + assessment

Learn more

Next: Defining critical leadership skills