7 Leadership Assessment Tools to Unlock Leadership Potential
Are the leaders at your company making a difference to your bottom line? Do they have the skills and personality traits to motivate their team, make difficult decisions under pressure, and lead your business during times of crisis?
Gallup research finds that 18% of current managers demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others. In comparison, another 20% show a basic talent for it.
These two groups combined contribute a 48% higher profit to their companies than average managers.
So, how do you ensure this elite crop of leaders is sitting on your managerial bench?
It comes down to selecting high-potential leaders first, then continuously developing them based on their strengths and weaknesses.
Leadership assessment tools will help you do both.
This article will:
- Delve into 7 powerful leadership assessment tools to help unlock your leaders' potential.
- Dissect each tool, exploring its unique features, strengths, and potential applications to your organization's leaders' journey.
💼 What are leadership assessment tools?
Companies use leadership assessment tools to measure an individual's actual or predicted performance in a leadership role. The tools themselves may focus on personality tests, self-assessments, cognitive tests, aptitude tests, and other forms of leadership assessment.
Leadership tests aim to gain insights into the individual's leadership style and capabilities, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately enable them to lead their team more effectively.
⚖️ 7 Leadership assessment tools comparison
Check out the following range of tools, which offer different insights into leadership styles and capabilities.
Also known as Clifton Strengths, this psychometric test was developed by the Gallup Institute to identify a leader's top five strengths out of a list of 34 themes.
Armed with this information, they can continue developing their strengths.
However, critics of this test are concerned that there is no focus on addressing weaknesses.
💸 The test is available for $49.99.
Expect to set aside one hour to take the assessment and review 177 paired statements to determine which suits you best.
You'll receive personalized insights and resources to maximize your true potential.
Saville Assessments cover two distinct categories: aptitude and personality tests. The aptitude assessments focus on verbal, numerical, spatial, error-checking, and mechanical abilities, while the personality tests measure traits such as empathy and resilience, which may be relevant to leadership.
Some of the assessments include:
- Leadership Impact: Personality questionnaire designed for leadership hiring and development
- Leadership Risk: Identifies nine different risk areas to mitigate repercussions on the individual, organization, and culture
- Leadership Impact 360: Review feedback from a range of stakeholders across nine business areas
- Wave-i: Compare individual's behaviors with group trends to earmark leadership potential and create paths for progression
- Impact3: Gain a holistic view of potential leaders and their behaviors using this full-cycle leadership package.
The assessments are questionnaire-based and vary in length, but you can expect to finish in 40 minutes.
💸 Test prices vary depending on the provider, and whether you’ve attended a Saville consulting course. Expect to pay in the region of $200-300+ for a Leadership Impact 360 assessment.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) tests are psychometric tests that were first launched in 1962.
They're designed to pinpoint a leader's personality and interpersonal style preferences based on the following categories:
- Extroverted (E) vs. Introverted (I)
- Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (I)
- Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
- Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)
From the above, 16 possible letter combinations describe your personality.
Example: A leader who is ISTJ is Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. This indicates they're responsible, organized, and practical, working hard to meet team and organizational goals. Socially, they prefer to be alone or in small groups and may struggle in larger settings. ISTJ types possess exceptional attention to detail and always prioritize facts over emotions. They thrive in highly structured work environments with strict rules.
Nicola Arnold, Head of Learning and Organisational Development, Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, says:
"I love using the MBTI tool with leaders. So insightful and a great platform for fabulous discussions and curiosity."
However, critics of MBTI feel that the tests are flaky and leaders may get different results if they take them multiple times. Others complain that the test isn't predictive, a fact that Myers-Briggs fully agrees with, stating:
"The MBTI assessment isn't designed to predict who will be most successful in certain occupations, and there's no evidence to suggest that certain MBTI types are more successful in certain careers. The MBTI assessment is designed to be descriptive, not predictive. Unfortunately, the MBTI assessment, like many other assessments and psychological tests, can be misused. Organizations that use the MBTI assessment for hiring decisions are confusing preference with skill and are doing themselves a disservice in their hiring process by screening out potentially qualified applicants, not to mention running the potential risk of litigation. When MBTI type alone is used to direct individuals into occupations or careers, it represents the same disservice."
💸 As the MBTI test is a psychological assessment, you must either find a practitioner to administer the test or take the online version for $49.95, with an option to discuss the results in a personalized session.
DISC is a profiling tool that determines whether a leader is people or task-oriented. Why? This helps us understand how they might approach workplace problems, react to challenges, and select the most effective way to communicate with them.
Robert Isaacson, Director of Sales, Operations, and Business Development at SLG Group, shares his experience with this assessment type.
"DISC profiling is now decades old but still very relevant today. I had my profile many years ago, and it's a very useful tool in understanding yourself. If you're in sales or management, then it's essential to gain an insight into yourself and how you can better interact with people around you."
As with other leadership assessment tests, DISC divides people into four categories:
- Dominance: D personality leaders are confident and focused on bottom-line results.
- Influence: I personality leaders prioritize relationship-building and persuading others.
- Steadiness: S personality leaders are dependable and sincere.
- Conscientiousness: C personality leaders prioritize quality, accuracy, expertise, and competency.
Critics of this tool believe it's too general and pigeonholes leaders too easily. Others feel it's easy to guess which answers belong to which category. Nevertheless, more than a million people take this test every year, and it can be a great starting point for leaders to explore their preferences and strengths.
Expect the DISC test to take around 15 to 20 minutes to complete, answering 80 questions before receiving your personalized results.
💸 The cost depends on the specific assessment you choose; for example the Work of Leaders Profile is priced at $135 for a single test, with bulk discount available if you purchase 10+ tests.
Energy Leadership Index
Energy Leadership Index Assessments differ from other personality tests by following an attitudinal approach based on seven different energy levels describing how a leader might respond to workplace scenarios.
- Level 1: Victim energy
- Level 2: Angry energy
- Level 3: Rationalizing energy
- Level 4: Compassionate energy
- Level 5: Reconciliation energy
- Level 6: Creative energy
- Level 7: Passionate energy
ELI assessments work well in tandem with coaching relationships, providing a great baseline for understanding how you might feel about certain situations and how to respond positively.
The assessment takes around 20 minutes to complete after a debrief with your ELI master practitioner, who will also share the results with you.
💸 Prices for the assessment will vary depending on the practitioner—you can search for available iPEC-accredited coaches here to obtain more information, and a quote.
Hogan Assessments are a series of science-backed aptitude tests designed to forecast future talent for your organization or assess a leader's reputation amongst peers.
Often compared to MBTI tests, the main difference is the Hogan assessments are based on socioanalytic theory, which is rooted in multidisciplinary science; in contrast, MBTI is based on Carl Jung's theory of psychological types.
Unlike MBTI, Hogan actively encourages companies to use its assessment results for workplace applications such as:
- Predicting employee performance and work outcomes.
- Gaining insights into how leadership personality affects their reputation.
- Understanding their effectiveness at leading people.
- Determining how a leader's direct reports may interpret their behavior.
💸 Hogan doesn’t offer a one-size-fits all solution to assessments, preferring instead to build packages based on a client’s specific needs or challenges. As such, custom pricing is available from Hogan on request.
Zavvy's 360-degree leadership assessment works by collecting insights from a variety of peers, direct reports, and self-evaluation to:
- Identify strengths and weaknesses to better understand where a leader may need extra development
- Build self-awareness through self-evaluations to highlight individual leadership skills
- Promote professional leadership development with customized career growth plans
- Measure leaders' impact on others by regularly reassessing and understanding the relation with employee engagement rates
Zavvy is best used as part of an ongoing employee development strategy, as it allows you to measure progress over time and includes input from all stakeholders in the process.
💸 Zavvy’s feedback and assessment module is priced at 4 euros per employee per month. You can then add on additional modules such as training or development.
The price will adjust to your needs. So you won’t pay for modules you don’t want. You can also request a custom quote for your specific needs.
🏢 6 Reasons why you need a leadership assessment tool
Formal assessments are one of many ways to assess leaders. You might also rely on the following to measure leadership capabilities:
- previous managerial experience;
- academic or professional qualifications;
- informal feedback from colleagues.
While these may be useful, leadership assessments offer multiple benefits, including the following.
1. Enable leadership development
Assessments provide a starting point for creating customized leadership development plans. With these detailed assessments, you can identify areas to focus on and tailor training accordingly.
Example: Your leadership test results highlight a low emotional intelligence score. This knowledge empowers you to improve your empathy skills to enhance bonding with managerial colleagues and direct reports.
2. Drive leader performance and enable better performance management
When leaders lean on evidence-based feedback and assessment results, performance review conversations are more meaningful. This takes the subjectivity and personal bias out of performance conversations.
Example: Your peers question your ability to solve problems under pressure, but you disagree. Your leadership assessment scores reveal your problem-solving skills are on par with group trends, proving you right. This allows you to dig deeper and query why your peers question this aspect of your leadership.
3. Improve organizational culture
Strong leadership significantly impacts company culture. And as management consultant Peter Drucker famously said: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
Example: By conducting regular assessments, your leaders can benchmark their current skill sets and improve their interpersonal skills and relationships in the workplace.
4. Predict leadership performance during recruitment cycles
Some types of leadership assessment tools are useful in predicting future leaders from as early as recruitment.
Example: Talent acquisition teams may incorporate leadership aptitude tests during candidate screening. Similarly, they may be useful in succession planning strategies to identify potential employees to prepare for C-suite roles.
5. Evaluate training programs
Committing to regular assessments can provide snapshots of your leadership training program results to demonstrate a return on investment.
Example: Use them to measure the impact of training initiatives such as promotions or new programs. Alternatively, compare pre and post-training scores to identify areas of improvement.
6. Eliminate bias in reviews and selection processes
Unconscious biases filter into every aspect of work, including leadership. A leader's reputation, gender, ethnicity, or age could skew their performance reviews or how people perceive their leadership abilities.
Use assessment tools to provide objective performance measurements that eliminate bias in reviews and selection processes.
Example: A long-term employee from an underrepresented background has been consistently passed over for promotion and development opportunities. But a leadership forecasting tool used in a review cycle spots that the employee is highly skilled and has the potential to succeed in an executive role. Their employer can now combat years of bias by plunging investment into their leadership training.
💡 5 Tips for selecting the most appropriate tools for your organization
There's no shortage of leadership assessment tools in the marketplace, so how do you choose the right fit for your organization?
Consider the following best practices.
1. Define leadership assessment goals
Before you begin, ask yourself what you want to achieve using the tool.
- What do you want to measure?
- Why do you need to measure this?
If you're unsure, try setting SMART goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound to stay focused on the desired outcome you want to achieve.
From there, you can work backward to identify a tool that meets your criteria.
2. Consider your organizational culture
Select a tool that aligns with your organization's culture, values, and beliefs.
Example: If your company places significant emphasis on fostering motivation and cultivating high levels of engagement among employees and leaders, avoid a tool primarily designed to identify weaknesses.
3. Clarify leadership competencies
Before wading in and using the tool, carry out some prep work by creating a leadership competency framework. This should clearly outline the specific skills and competencies that each leader needs in their role. After taking the test, link the results to your framework to inform a tailored development plan.
4. Check tool reviews
Do your due diligence and read assessment tool reviews during your selection process. You may want to consider the following points:
- Validity and reliability: Evaluate the scientific validity and reliability of the assessment tool. Look for evidence of research, psychometric properties, and rigorous validation processes to ensure the tool provides accurate and consistent results. This is important for maintaining credibility and trust in the assessment process.
- User experience: Consider the ease of use and accessibility of the assessment tool. To promote engagement, choose a user-friendly, well-designed, and easily understandable tool for both the individuals being assessed and those administering the assessments.
- Security: Ensure the assessment tool respects ethical guidelines and individuals' privacy and confidentiality.
5. Choose a tool with extended functionalities
Assess whether your tool provides meaningful feedback and advances your leadership development programs.
The tool should offer detailed reports and recommendations for development based on the assessment results. Look for features that facilitate coaching, training, or further support to help leaders enhance their skills and grow professionally.
➡️ Support leadership development with Zavvy
Zavvy provides multiple ways to support your leaders and enable them to thrive in your organization.
- 🔁 360 Feedback: Collect meaningful multi-source feedback to regularly evaluate leaders and their impact on others.
- 🗺️ Career pathing: Map out career frameworks and the competencies that each leader requires in their role.
- 📚 Learning management systems: Build and run customized leadership development programs with AI.
- Employee engagement surveys: Collect feedback from direct reports to understand current engagement rates and how well they connect with their manager.
📅 Ready to support your leaders and benchmark their current skills and performance? Take Zavvy for a spin by booking a demo today.