Leadership Assessment: The Complete Guide

Août 3, 2023 | Performance Management

Leadership assessments can play a pivotal role in boosting the effectiveness of managers and executives. Just 11% of companies have a strong or very strong leadership pipeline. This issue stems from lack of development, underscoring the need for accurate leadership assessments and needs-based training.

“Today, 86% of organizations are using formal leadership development programs, but only 57% say they currently leverage assessment to diagnose leadership strengths and needs for development,” reports Forbes. Authentic assessments could fuel the growth of current and aspiring leaders.

But what exactly do leadership assessments entail? We’ll discuss the purpose of these assessments, highlighting their key benefits. Then, we’ll examine how different tools can provide valuable input on current and prospective leaders’ aptitudes. 

Table of Contents

1. What Is a Leadership Assessment

2. Benefits of a Leadership Assessment

3. Types of Leadership Assessments

4. Leadership Assessment Tools

5. Leadership Assessment Questions

6. Pitfalls of Leadership Assessment

7. How to Pass a Leadership Assessment Test

What Is a Leadership Assessment

A leadership assessment evaluates whether an individual is prepared to succeed in a leadership role. By measuring aptitudes and skills, it assesses their fit for the position. These assessments can evaluate either current or future leaders. 

HR can use a leadership assessment with job candidates for management positions. But they can also use leadership assessments to measure how current leaders can improve. 

When is a leadership assessment necessary? There’s no wrong time to use them. You can routinely conduct these assessments as part of your talent management practices. But you can also use some types of assessments to aid in decision-making, such as when seeking to fill a role.

Benefits of a Leadership Assessment

Good leadership assessments promote strong talent management in all of these ways:

  • Making sure you place talented employees in the right roles. Leadership assessments help ensure role fit and allow you to leverage talent effectively. They can also help circumvent bias by providing objective results. 
  • Enhancing leaders’ growth. Current leaders can expand their skill set by identifying blind spots.
  • Helping leaders (and their organizations) understand their own personality and strengths. This type of insight fosters growth in the workplace.
  • Hiring the right leaders. Leadership assessments help you avoid costly mistakes in hiring so you can select the best candidates.
  • Assisting in succession planning. You can plan strategically when you (and your leaders) understand their skills and aspirations. Likewise, if the company is restructuring, these tools can help you make wise decisions that fully leverage your talent.

Through these benefits, you’ll ensure you have the right leaders heading the right teams.

Types of Leadership Assessments

Man doing leadership assessment in an office
Credit: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels

Leadership assessments measure a leader’s traits and aptitudes. But different assessments focus on different areas of leadership. Some tests focus on the core elements of personality that promote great leadership. Others measure a variety of skills that can be developed over time. Additionally, some tests rely on a self-assessment, while others utilize assessments from colleagues.

360 Leadership Assessment

A 360 leadership assessment gains feedback from a broad range of people who work with a leader. Questions mainly relate to interpersonal strengths and weaknesses. For example, a 360 assessment can share direct reports’ perspectives on their manager’s ability to coach them.

Good 360 leadership assessments include a self-assessment element. This will illustrate managers’ level of awareness of their strengths and challenges.

Emotional Intelligence Assessment

An emotional intelligence assessment focuses on people skills and ability to relate to others. It also assesses a leader’s ability to manage his own emotions. Through this evaluation, a leader can reflect on these important areas of leadership.

Many 360 evaluations focus heavily on emotional intelligence. After all, this is the area that peers and direct reports can assess most accurately.

Strengths Profiler

Some assessments carry out a broad assessment of strengths. The results provide an in-depth profile of a leader’s approach and skill set.

Gallup’s CliftonStrengths is one example of this type of leadership assessment. In this one-hour self-assessment, leaders answer 177 questions in the form of paired statements. Each question presents two contrasting statements on either end of a spectrum. Leaders determine where they fall within that range.

As mentioned, some evaluations focus on the building blocks of strong leadership. They help assess a leader’s core competencies and approach.

A DISC evaluation is one such tool. It assesses a leader’s observable behaviour, examining their tendency to focus on people vs. tasks and to be active vs. inactive. DISC stands for the following four traits:

  • Dominance (a focus on tasks and results).
  • Influence (focus on people and relationships).
  • Steadiness (focus on dependability and stability).
  • Compliance (focus on quality and accuracy).

Through this assessment, you can understand a leader’s style. As certain approaches may work better with certain teams and positions, this will aid in decision-making.

Personality Test

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator looks at four dimensions of personality:

  • Degree of introversion or extroversion
  • Method of processing information and deriving meaning from it
  • Decision-making process
  • Method of managing situations and information

Personality tests should be used to build self-awareness rather than make hiring decisions. For decision-making, use tests that evaluate behaviours rather than personality type.

Goals Assessment

A goals assessment focuses on what an individual wants to achieve. This type of self-assessment prompts a leader to reflect on current goals and identify future ones. By doing so, it could help identify positions to aspire toward or ways to maximize effectiveness.

Specific Competency Assessments

Leadership assessments can also focus on specific aspects of the role. For example, Brené Brown has created an assessment that evaluates how daring leaders allow themselves to be. An assessment could also evaluate important areas like these:

  • Innovativeness
  • Ability to manage change
  • Skill in building coalitions
  • Conflict resolution ability
  • Business management knowledge
  • Problem-solving ability

You can compare the results of these assessments to the needs of your company. If you need a leader with a certain type of approach, they can help you identify the right person.

Leadership Assessment Tools

Today, many leadership assessment tools are electronic. People can complete them remotely from wherever they are.

For example, cloud-based 360 review software streamlines the assessment process. Such tools will deliver valuable new insights about leaders. Using a sophisticated yet intuitive tool will ensure you gain the most valuable feedback possible. Good 360 software also lets you track results from one cycle to the next.

Any good leadership assessment tool will synthesize the data for you as well. This is especially important with 360 feedback tools, which draw conclusions by analyzing data from numerous reviewers. Some tools also show how leaders measure up to others in their organization or industry.

Leadership Assessment Questions

Woman in an office setting doing leadership assessment on a laptop
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

What are some key questions a leadership assessment might ask? Here are a few examples. Each could include multiple choice answers or several options on a scale to choose from. We recommend offering five or more options to allow for nuance.

  • “How do you respond to change?”
  • “How effectively do you delegate?”
  • “Do you hold others accountable for meeting expectations?”
  • “Do you work to foster an inclusive workplace?”
  • “Do you possess a strong vision for organizational success?”
  • “Do you effectively motivate your direct reports?”
  • “Do you strive to listen to and learn from feedback?”
  • “Do you have strong relationships with the people you manage?”
  • “Do colleagues across the organization know and trust you?”
  • “Do you hold yourself accountable for mistakes?”

Are there any downsides to leadership assessments? We’ll tackle that question next.

Pitfalls of Leadership Assessment

Don’t rely solely on a leadership assessment to gauge fit for future roles. An assessment can suggest who is likely to excel in a leadership position. However, it can’t entirely predict the future. An individual who seems unprepared now but feels determined to succeed may prove poor test results wrong. 

Choose psychometrically validated assessment tools, and use them for the purpose for which they were designed. For example, don’t use a 360 review for decision-making purposes.

Likewise, use additional metrics to gauge success in a leader’s current role. What results is this person actually achieving? How are her relationships with team members? Is she putting time into her own development? Such considerations will also help assess or predict success. Performance management software can help you make these observations.

In short, don’t use a leadership assessment as the sole barometer of success. However, it can serve as a valuable tool for strategic planning and development.

How to Pass a Leadership Assessment Test

Many leadership tests aren’t “pass/fail.” Rather, they highlight natural strengths and areas for growth. So, it’s crucial to answer honestly. By accurately assessing your abilities, you’ll ensure you get the training and support you need. And you’ll also be matched with the right positions for your skill set and traits!

There’s no quick study guide for a leadership assessment. But by continuously honing your strengths through workshops, mentoring, and reading, you’ll prepare yourself to succeed. 

That being said, here are a few extra steps you can take to prepare:

  • Take one or more leadership assessments at home. Review your results. What areas do you need to grow in? Try to brush up on knowledge there.
  • Practice your answers to common interview questions for leaders, like those above. Many questions will probably relate to these areas.
  • Read each question thoughtfully, considering how you would act in the scenario presented. Draw upon your observations of effective leaders to guide you. Strive to reply authentically when asked about your personal traits or leadership behaviours.

With the help of these tools, you’ll take your leaders’ growth to new heights. You’ll learn how to enhance unseen strengths, and leaders will gain a deeper fulfillment from their careers. 

Learn how software can positively shape your leaders’ growth. Sign up to demo our product now!

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