What makes a good leader? Which traits, behaviors and interaction patterns are fundamental for effective leadership within an organization? By leveraging available leadership assessment tools, organizations may identify any of these entities in individuals that hold administrative roles. And, in doing so, they may train and empower people to actualize their potential and drive business performance forward.
Why is assessing leadership important?
Effective leadership influences teamwork, improves communication and promotes efficiency within a company. That’s why evaluating the leadership skills of a leader — or, even, an entire team of leaders — is critical for an organization. That said, the good news is, there are plenty of tools and methods that help in that direction. Read on!
5 Leadership assessment tools you should have in mind
Below we’ll give you a short introduction of relevant tools that help you get a better understanding of the profile of people that hold managerial roles within your organization.
1. The DISC profiling test
The DISC profiling test is a psychometric personality assessment tool that helps individuals and teams build better working relationships. It’s one of the most popular leadership assessment tools; and gives insightful results with respect to people’s needs, priorities and communication styles. To explain, the test provides a common language — four adjectives that correspond to four categories of personality traits — that helps people within an organization better understand the aforementioned parameters. In particular, with the help of a DISC profiling test, people can be pigeonholed into four different categories as described below:
- Dominance — a dominant leader is task-oriented, active and gets straight to the point. To elaborate, the person with a dominant style is able to see the bigger pictures, accepts challenges, focuses on strategies and processes that help accomplish tangible results.
- Influence — an influential person is people-oriented, open and active. A relationship-focused leader is optimistic, shows enthusiasm and values collaboration. Such a person does not like being ignored and focuses on influencing or persuading others.
- Steadiness — individuals who score high in the steadiness factor are people-oriented, reserved and focus on dependability, sincerity and cooperation. They are people who use calm approaches and prefer supportive actions.
- Consciousness — a conscientious leader is task-oriented, active and focuses on objective reasoning. Accuracy, quality and competency are top priorities for such a person. Moreover, individuals described as conscientious value independence, focus on details and are also afraid of being wrong.
2. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment
Another famous psychometric questionnaire that we use as a leadership assessment tool is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. This tool measures how people perceive the world; and how they make decisions upon these perceptions. To elaborate, it serves as a profiling tool that helps people become aware of their strengths and their weaknesses to further use them efficiently or improve them accordingly. The questionnaire was created by Katharine C.Brook and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers; and it was based on Carl Jung’s psychological theories, published in 1921. Jung’s theory proposed the following division, in terms of psychological functions or, simply put, how individuals experience the world:
- (E) Extraversion – (I) Introversion
- (S) Sensing – (N) Intuition
- (T) Thinking – (F) Feeling
- (J) Judging – (P) Perception
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator profiling tool suggests that there are 16 possible psychological types; the possible combinations of the four aforementioned parameters. Consequently, each psychological type takes the coded name of the initial letters of the parameters.
3. 360 Degree Feedback as a tool to leadership assessment
With the help of a 360 Degree Feedback survey, you can collect valuable information on your leadership qualities from a handful people within your organization. Hence, the feedback may come from managers, peers, stakeholders or any other co-worker. Therefore, multi-rater feedback surveys — as they are alternatively called — don’t serve only as leadership assessment tools; they may also help bring up and resolve issues that are difficult to discuss among team members.
Essentially, this type of assessment tool helps managers, management teams or departments within an organization identify strengths and areas of growth. Using 360 Degree Feedback surveys as leadership assessment tools, companies can effectively prepare training plans, make decisions regarding promotions and generally make well-informed decisions. They may collect named feedback or focus on anonymous feedback that is richer — depending on each case.
4. Life styles inventory (LSI 1 & LSI 2) as leadership assessment tools
Life styles inventory is a leadership assessment tool that uses both self-assessment and collective feedback; and helps individuals improve their thinking and behavioral styles. More specifically, we can divide it into two parts:
- LSI 1, where employees assess themselves, by identifying their thinking styles; and get insights on how it may affect their decision making, communication and behavior, in general. The output is a visual representation of the aforementioned aspects, namely, the Human Synergistics Circumplex.
- LSI 2, which refers to the feedback individuals get from the people around them. That is to say, it’s the individual’s behavior as perceived and interpreted by others. More specifically, a specific number of trusted colleagues, be it managers, peers or any other partner, selected by that person; they provide objective feedback on the person’s behavior.
Both self-rating results and results coming from collective feedback are compared and combined to identify strengths, blind spots and areas of improvement. All in all, the Life Styles Inventory helps increase the perceived personal effectiveness and efficiency, quality of relationships, overall workplace satisfaction and satisfaction in life, in general.
5. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ)
The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) is a leadership assessment tool that measures leadership style behaviors. In short, MLQ gauges leaders’ critical traits and characteristics that influence the actions and behaviors of the people they manage. Such behavioral styles, measured by the MLQ, may eventually describe individuals as passive leaders. In like fashion, leaders may adopt transactional leadership behaviors, giving conditional rewards to followers; or they can be charismatic leaders that inspire followers and help them become leaders themselves, instead.
More specifically, the MLQ measures five dimensions of transformational leadership; a term coined by J.V. Downton that generally describes leaders that “transcend short-term goals and focus on higher order intrinsic needs”. The five dimensions are the ones that follow:
- idealized influence – attributions
- idealized influence – behaviors
- inspirational motivation
- individualized consideration
- intellectual stimulation
It also measures three dimensions of transactional leadership:
- contingent reward
- management by exception (active)
- management by exception (passive)
Such measurements help leaders understand themselves; and, of course, the way they appear in the eyes of the people they work with.
Summing it up
Identifying leadership traits, skills and behaviors adopted by people that hold managerial roles is critical for organizations and companies in search for new ways to improve performance. To that end, the leadership assessment literature offers a host of tools that help in that direction. These tools may, namely, include self-reporting forms, surveys, questionnaires and other evaluation methods. A subset of these leadership assessment tools, such as the ones we introduced above, help leaders and companies identify leadership styles, personality types, unrecognized strengths, blind spots and development areas. At any rate, all of these entities help individuals, teams and companies design and implement improvement strategies.