Leadership Assessment Tests: How to Make Them More Effective
Leadership assessment tests are a powerful tool in any talent management arsenal. They shed light on an individual's leadership style, strengths, weaknesses, and growth potential.
But to harness their full power, these assessments must be as effective and accurate as possible.
You'll gain deeper insights into your leaders' capabilities and potential by refining your leadership assessment tests. As a result, you'll be able to create targeted development plans that truly address their needs.
So, the question isn't whether you need to undertake leadership assessments.
It's how you can evaluate leadership skills better and the best tools for accurate assessments.
And it's what we're about to show you.
💼 What are leadership assessments?
A leadership assessment is a tool designed to evaluate an individual's capacity and effectiveness in a leadership role. It examines skills, abilities, behaviors, and other traits contributing to successful leadership.
But a leadership assessment test goes beyond role-specific leadership skills. Instead, it evaluates an employee's situational responses, personality traits, and cognitive capabilities.
How a leadership assessment contributes to overall performance and success
- Leadership assessments help in building self-awareness among leaders.
- Leadership assessments can be a preamble to developing leadership skills that foster organizational innovation.
- A leadership assessment can shed light on an individual's decision-making style and ability, which is crucial for any leader. Enhancing this skill leads to better choices for the business and drives organizational success.
- Plus, by identifying the best leaders and improving their skills, you can also boost the performance of their teams. Effective leaders can motivate their teams, drive engagement, and steer them toward achieving their goals.
- Ensure a talent pipeline for management roles (i.e., enabling succession planning).
"Just because someone's a high performer in their job doesn't mean they'll be good at managing other people.
Before you promote someone into a leadership role, ensure they love to coach & support, & gain satisfaction in seeing other people succeed." Mark C. Crowley, leadership consultant and speaker.
🏢 Why do you need leadership assessments in your organization?
Hiring your leaders from your internal pool will always triumph over external hires.
Research shows that executives hired internally have a success rate that's 25% higher than executives hired externally.
How do you determine which internal candidate is the best for the job? Leadership assessments can help. They can help to identify individuals within the organization who have the potential to take on leadership roles in the future.
You'll be able to identify effective leaders early enough and prepare them for future leadership opportunities.
Identifying the strengths and weaknesses in your workforce
Leadership assessments help you know the potential and limitations of your leaders. They provide a clear picture of where a leader excels and where they need improvement, allowing for targeted development strategies.
🎯 Discover multiple examples of SMART leadership goals that can inspire your leaders' growth.
Create better work environments leading to increased employee satisfaction
Research has proven that toxic leadership affects job satisfaction and work motivation.
Although the research shows toxic leadership doesn't affect employee performance, job satisfaction—which suffers from toxic leadership —affects employee performance.
We could say 'toxic' lies on the extreme end of poor leadership. But still, having the wrong people in leadership roles can have a cascading effect on the success of your organization.
Developing leadership skills
Skills like emotional intelligence, communication, and the ability to exert influence help leaders bring the best performance out of their team members.
These are just a few critical leadership skills that a leadership assessment evaluates.
Your leadership assessment can identify any skills gaps, which guides the development of targeted leadership training programs.
🔍 What are the elements of a leadership assessment?
Your leadership assessment test should focus on assessing the employee in four main areas.
Uncovering an individual's personality gives insights into the natural strengths and instincts that drive their behavior.
Research by American personality psychologist, Lewis R. Goldberg, revealed five broad dimensions that can describe an individual’s personality. They influence an individual’s competence as a leader:
- Openness: Leaders who are high in openness are imaginative and creative.
- Conscientiousness: High conscientiousness goes hand-in-hand with self-discipline and goal-directed behaviors.
- Extroversion: Extroversion means the leader is sociable, outgoing, and energetic. They make social connections fast and are quick in decision-making.
- Agreeableness: Leaders who are high in agreeableness are cooperative. They interact well within a team.
- Neuroticism: High neuroticism means a leader is more prone to negative emotions. Leaders low in neuroticism are emotionally stable and resilient.
Here, you test the leader's proficiency or inadequacy in undertaking the tasks of a leadership role.
For example, you can assess their capacity to oversee processes, pilot initiatives, and direct their team members toward achieving set goals.
These tests gauge an individual's ability to utilize mental processes in work-related activities. It entails assessing their capacity in:
- logical reasoning;
- verbal and numerical ability;
- reading comprehension;
- numerical ability.
Leadership assessments test the leader's inclination to engage in high-performance behavior.
An effective approach here is 360-degree style assessments.
They provide valuable insights into how others in the organization, such as the direct reports and peers, perceive the leader's behavior.
❓ Check out 40+ 360 feedback questions that can help assess a leader's behavior.
⚖️ Leadership assessment methods and tools
To get accurate results about a leader's personality, skills, cognitive abilities, and behavioral style, use these seven tools and methods.
This method assesses the leader through a self-report. It facilitates a self-reflection that brings out the employee's perception of their behavior in the workplace.
Properly framing the self-assessment questions to avoid fake answers is critical to getting valid results.
360-Degree leadership assessments
A 360-degree leadership assessment steps beyond how leaders perceive themselves to how others perceive them.
You collect feedback from peers, managers, direct reports, and associates regarding the employee's key leadership competencies.
This tool sheds light on the blind spots caused by the biases of a self-evaluation.
Consult our detailed guide on conducting effective 360 leadership assessments.
💼 Check out Zavvy's Annual manager self-evaluation ready-to-use template.
Behavioral and situational interviews
Behavioral and situational interview questions are designed to uncover a candidate's real experience from past jobs and their potential behavior in future situations.
Behavioral and situational interviews involve asking questions that measure the employee's ability to handle critical workplace incidents and their judgment in sensitive situations.
Behavioral interview questions
- 🗂 Can you describe a situation where you had to make a difficult decision that didn't please everyone on your team? What was the outcome, and what did you learn?
- ⏰ Can you share an instance where you had to balance multiple high-priority tasks or projects at the same time? How did you manage your time and resources?
- 🎯 Tell me about a time when you had to implement a new policy or process that was met with resistance. How did you handle it, and what were the results?
Situational interview questions
- 🚀 Imagine your team is responsible for a project with a tight deadline, but one of your key team members has just resigned. How would you ensure the project's success under these circumstances?
- 🔥 Suppose you are leading a team and one of your team members is not meeting their performance expectations. How would you handle this situation?
- 🤝 Imagine you're a new leader in our organization, and some team members have been with the company for a longer time and may resist changes you want to implement. How would you approach this situation?
It's a standardized testing format that brings out aspects of the individual's personality that drive their behavior.
A psychometric test also measures cognitive abilities.
The results show an employee's aptitude and personality suitability for a leadership role.
A performance appraisal is a fundamental part of a leadership assessment.
It reveals the employee's strengths and weaknesses in different performance-related areas that can impact their effectiveness in a leadership role, such as:
- commitment and discipline in achieving goals;
- openness to feedback;
📖 Refer to this practical guide on how to effectively evaluate a manager's performance.
Simulation exercises and role-plays
Role-play and simulation exercises test the employee's leadership skills in relation to various management scenarios.
An example is a simulated crisis where the employee under assessment takes the role of managing it. The simulation needs to be as close to reality as possible.
Leadership development programs
The insights you gather from your leadership assessments shouldn't go to waste.
Use them to create an informed and motivating leadership development plan that targets the right competencies.
You'll nurture the high-potential talent on your hands into transformational leaders.
💡 Tip: Use this guide to find the right leadership assessment tool for your organization
💡 4 Expert tips for conducting effective leadership assessments
We've gathered the best ways to conduct a leadership assessment based on the real-life experience of company leaders.
1. Be clear on your objectives and goals
Know what you want to achieve from the leadership assessment. Be clear on the competencies you want to test.
According to Cynthia Davies, Founder of Cindy's New Mexico LLC, setting objectives gives your leadership assessments the right focus.
"Setting clear objectives helps us conduct effective leadership assessments because it creates an area of focus for conducting the assessments. This is beneficial for two main reasons. One, it ensures that the evaluation stays focused and on topic, and two, it ensures that there isn't too much packed into the assessment, making it too broad and therefore less effective."
It's an excellent way to ensure your leadership assessment aligns with the organization's priorities.
2. Maintain confidentiality
Create a leadership assessment process that's confidential.
Confidentiality encourages employees to be honest in the self-assessment questionnaires, 360-degree feedback, and psychometric tests.
The result is an accurate picture of the leadership qualities in your workforce.
In the experience of Garrett Smith of GMB Gorilla: "Confidentiality creates a safe space for truthful and unfiltered assessment."
"It encourages participants to feel comfortable in giving honest and constructive feedback without fear of retribution. It removes the anxiety of being involved in catty office politics should their colleagues or leaders know about what they say in the assessment."
3. Give constructive feedback
Once you have data from your assessment, give valuable feedback. It promotes a growth mindset and encourages professional development.
Ryan Mckenzie, Co-Founder & CMO of Tru Earth, recommends: "Feedback should be delivered in a manner that encourages the leader to take ownership of their own development while giving them the necessary tools and resources to make adjustments for future success."
4. Create an action plan
Make the assessment your reference document for an effective leadership development plan. According to its CEO, Mark Pierce, this is what works for Cloud Peak Law Group.
"Rather than the assessment simply being a one-off, one-time review, creating an action plan for improvement based on the assessment findings makes it a valuable reference document.
The plan itself is the roadmap that outlines the goals and desired outcomes, and the assessment is used as a reference to monitor progress and compare at the end of the development plan's timeline."
It's essential to draw a leadership development plan that helps employees develop their natural strengths. This means setting strength-based goals.
🌟 9 Leadership qualities and skills to include in your leadership assessments
Go for a combination of skills that focus on the employees' ability to contribute to better business performance and their capability to bring out the best in people.
Here are some core leadership competencies you should evaluate in your leadership assessments.
1. Vision and strategic thinking
A leader should create a compelling vision for the future. And they should sell it to the people they're leading in a way that inspires them to adopt it as their own.
They're able to:
- Create goals that lead to the actualization of this vision.
- Anticipate challenges and potential opportunities.
- Make informed decisions that align with the vision.
2. Communication skills
Empathy, transparency, and clarity are crucial to effective communication. A good leader can actively listen and ask open-ended questions to inspire and empower their team.
Leaders with great communication skills can also grow and help their teams grow.
"As a leader, the power of active listening and engaging with the people around you helps you grow yourself and others." Whitney Johnson, Author of Smart Growth: How to Grow Your People to Grow Your Company.
A leader should have analytical and interpretive skills to make the right decisions.
Great leaders use their experience and available data to assess all available options' relevance and possible outcomes before choosing a solution.
You have great leadership potential in your hands if the employee can:
- Apply creative thinking and analytical skills to solve problems
- Collaborate with the right people to implement the right solutions
- See beyond a problem and view it as an opportunity
5. Adaptability and resilience
For a leader to thrive in a change-heavy work environment, they must be resilient and adaptable.
Good leaders quickly change their strategy and behavior in response to new situations.
When things don't go as planned, they re-strategize and maintain a positive outlook.
6. Collaboration and teamwork
Leaders should seek diverse opinions and ideas from their team members when building strategies and solving problems.
They should be ready to contribute their talent and energy to help the team achieve its goals.
7. Delegation and empowerment
A good leader knows how to utilize the strengths of their subordinates to the benefit of a task.
They can inspire those around them and provide them with enough guidance and resources to give their best performance.
8. Coaching and mentoring
Feedback and coaching are a great leader's tools to unlock their team members' full potential and increase their performance.
A manager who acts as a coach works with their direct reports through any challenges and guides them into developing the right solutions.
🏋️♂️ Are your leader's coaching skills lackluster? Check out our guide on how to conduct effective coaching skills training for managers (and how not to).
9. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your emotions positively to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.
Good leaders understand their emotions, but they don't allow these emotions to drive them.
They can notice a spike or drop in the emotions of their direct reports and know how to re-establish a balance.
🌟 For more leadership competencies to include in your assessments, check out our leadership competency database. You'll find competency definitions and a leveling framework for measuring the mastery of each competency.
➡️ Assess and enable your leaders with Zavvy
Leaders are the main drivers of the objectives and vision of an organization. Therefore, your leadership assessments should ensure that your leaders have the competencies to perform this role.
But leadership assessments can be tedious and time-consuming. Moreover, undertaking it manually can result in errors, biases, and inconsistencies.
Invest in 360-feedback software like Zavvy. It simplifies the process by:
- Enabling effective self-evaluations.
- Collecting feedback about leadership competencies from those in direct contact with your leaders ( direct reports, peers, and their superiors).
- Anonimyzing feedback if it's more in line with your company processes.
- Automatically compiling individual competency reports for each leader.
Based on your organization's unique objectives, you can choose which questions to ask, whom to ask, and the feedback types to use.
You can specify who can see the responses to encourage more honest, candid answers.
The insights collected can guide you into creating meaningful leadership development programs, still on Zavvy.
📅 Don't take our word for it. Instead, book a demo to see Zavvy in action.
How do you conduct a leadership assessment?
To undertake an effective leadership assessment, start by setting your objectives.
Maintain confidentiality with your tests and interviews and give constructive feedback based on the results obtained.
End by creating a leadership development program that addresses their skills gap and builds on their natural competencies.
What are the elements of a leadership assessment?
The elements of an effective leadership skills assessment process encompass tests that evaluate an individual's:
- leadership skills;
- cognitive ability;
- behavioral style.
What to expect in a leadership assessment test?
A leadership assessment evaluates the behavioral style, skills, and cognitive abilities of an employee using:
- situational judgment tests;
- personality tests;
- performance reviews;
- 360-degree feedback.
It ends with implementing a leadership development program addressing the skills gaps and weaknesses.