FROM ASSESSMENT OVERLOAD TO INSIGHT: HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT LEADERSHIP TOOLS FOR YOUR NEEDS
You might have taken the Harry Potter quiz to discover which Hogwarts house the sorting hat would have placed you in, but unless you have a magic, mind-reading hat stashed in your home office, selecting which leadership assessment to use might be more mysterious than the rules of quidditch. There are assessments for every scenario from executive selection to emerging leader development to building strong teams. High-quality assessments are grounded in research and using them effectively to gain meaningful insights typically requires study and certification.
As an executive coach and consultant, I have a myriad of tools and assessments to work with, which means that each engagement is unique. The types of assessments that I use with a client vary based on their goals, their organizational needs and the larger context of the client engagement. Assessments that draw out personality traits and make connections to leadership style are also useful for getting started, but there are more specific and consistent tools that come up for common scenarios that I want to share with you.
Many times, coaching engagements are initiated to support a leader who is about to or who has recently taken on a bigger, broader role. The skills, experiences and capabilities that they bring into the role serve as their leadership baseline, and we work together to identify what the new role may require that will be different from prior roles. There are a wealth of assessment tools to support this line of inquiry. I tend to draw on a few consistently:
• EQ-i 2.0/360 is a great way to identify gaps between self-perception and how others perceive you. It can uncover leadership blind spots as well as mutually understood strengths. Once leaders are aware of their blind spots, they can work to grow in these areas or build their team in a way that augments their tendencies.
• Hogan’s Leadership Forecast Series looks at a leader’s motivations, capabilities and values. It helps leaders understand how their traits and habitual approaches can be beneficial or limiting.
• For emerging leaders, functional leaders or first-time leaders, Profilor and TALENTx7 Learning Agility are great tools to build self-awareness around leadership competencies, situational awareness and their capacity to lead through change.
Strong, high-functioning teams and strong, high-functioning organizations go hand-in-hand. Clients who come to me to build more effective teams know this! We use positive psychology, strengths-based assessments to support enhanced teaming initiatives in the organization. I have three favored assessments for these engagements.
• Fearless Organization assesses psychological safety within teams, which is essential for high-performance. When team members feel safe, they bring forward new ideas, take appropriate risks and collaborate effectively.
• CliftonStrengths helps teams understand each other better, from motivations to workstyle preferences. Teams who take this assessment together can uncover insights that help them communicate and collaborate better.
• Core Strengths is all about team relationships. This assessment helps strengthen team culture and increases the team’s ability to work through conflict.
Executive-level hiring is a huge investment of time and resources. The risk of getting it wrong is high. Using assessments as part of the hiring process can help determine and ensure cultural fit. It can also offer the newly placed leader insights about the strengths they bring to the role as well as the challenges they may face. The assessment that my clients and I have found most consistently helpful for executive selection is one that I have already shared:
• Hogan’s Leadership Forecast Series helps leaders in new and expanded roles by generating a development plan based on assessment results. Paired with ongoing coaching, the awareness that the leader gains from this assessment can help them accelerate their impact and effectiveness.
In addition to administering the assessment, I bring my experience in recruiting, succession planning and leadership development to analyzing the results and interpreting them with the hiring team. Using the insights from the assessment, organizations can make informed hiring decisions by taking current needs and anticipated future requirements into account.
High-Potential Talent Identification And Selection
With the current churn in the labor market, proactive organizations are doing more to identify and retain top talent and emerging leaders. Assessments can be used with high-potential talent to assess strengths, create development plans and determine readiness for advancement. This is the assessment I use with organizations and individuals working on talent development and succession planning:
• TALENTx7 Learning Agility gives leaders insights into how they understand and lead others. For organizations assessing emerging leaders, this tool helps them understand leadership competencies so that development plans can be tailored to prepare the high-potential employee for their next, expanded role.
This is just a small sampling of available leadership assessments; it isn’t even all of the tools I use with clients! With all of these tools at their disposal, it is important for organizations and individuals to remember that leadership assessments aren’t a pass-fail test. They help leaders build self-awareness and gain insights on their strengths and opportunities so that they can lead more effectively. When paired with coaching, these assessments can provide a road map for personal and professional growth. They help organizations gauge leadership cultural fit and build high-performing teams. The goal is for leaders, teams and organizations to get even better at what they do — no magic required.
*This article first appeared on Forbes.