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6 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Leadership Assessment

choosing a leadership assessment

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How to choose a leadership assessment that measures key leadership skills

A common development strategy in organizations is to use a 360-degree assessment for executive coaching, leadership, management, team and organizational development, or to develop personal leadership capacity. These assessments typically focus on others' perceptions about your leadership effectiveness or certain skill areas and can also include a self-assessment as well.

What is the most effective 360 feedback tool? Here are some questions to ask when choosing a leadership assessment that gets results:

  1. Does it actually measure leadership? A primary reason to use a 360-feedback assessment is for self-development. Leadership is a learned skill that is seen throughout the day-to-day interactions of leading others. It is not about “style,” “strength,” “intent,” or even “management skills,” but it is about the behaviors that get results.

  2. Is it research-based? Few assessments hold up to the scrutiny of the important research criteria of reliability and validity. A valid and reliable instrument will measure what it says it measures: effective leadership. It will also produce the same results if taken again.

  3. Is it actionable? Does it give real feedback or concrete steps that a leader can take, or does it overwhelm with abstractions? A good leadership assessment not only measures leadership behaviors but offers a plan or next steps toward further development.

  4. Is it easy? This might seem reductive, but leaders need information in a form and language they can understand and communicate readily to others. It is also important that assessments not be cumbersome or take too much time for the leader or those giving feedback. Key “easy-indicators” to look for are: does it provide a common leadership language that is easy to communicate and for raters to understand when providing feedback? Will the feedback process require a considerable outlay of time?

  5. Is it cost-effective? To measure the true cost or value of an assessment, consider how it will be used. After taking the assessment, will the leader create a leadership development plan? Receive coaching? Engage in a follow-on program? Have a peer group to engage with? Will they check in with their raters and engage in dialogue about improving and practicing as a leader? Don’t forget to consider the time it will take to complete the assessment itself (see #4.)

  6. Is it customizable? Many organizations already have competencies in place that they use as indicators of whether an employee is “high-potential,” “promotable,” or meeting performance standards – but don’t mistake these with a measurement of leadership development. Look for an assessment that has customizable narrative or essay questions that you can use to ask constituents about the true behavior of a leader and areas for improvement.

Once you have begun to look at your next leadership development assessment selection with the above questions in mind, you will be well on your way to selecting an assessment that actually measures leadership capacity and that gives actionable steps to developing leaders. Choosing an evidence and behavior based, assessment like The Leadership Practice Inventory®, not only benchmarks and measures effective leadership, it also serves as a roadmap for the leader to take action to improve their leadership.


Download an Overview of The Leadership Practices Inventory 360 LPI

Lauren Parkhill

Lauren Parkhill leads the marketing team in creating creative content that helps organizations develop their leaders and teams.

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