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Leadership Assessments: A How-To Guide

By Jami Dix, Client Engagement Leader

Raise your hand if you think you’re an above average driver. Yep, me too. Let’s say 100 people read this blog. How many would raise their hand?

Chances are, a majority.

But, it’s not possible – right? In order for there to be above average drivers, mathematically speaking, an equal percentage must be below average. Or, just think about your drive into work this morning.

So, what gives? Simply put, we’re not that great at assessing ourselves. “Despite the fact that more than 90% of crashes involve human error, three-quarters (73 percent) of US drivers consider themselves better-than-average drivers.”

You might be thinking: “If I’m not good at assessing my driving skills, what else am I not good at assessing?”

Turns out we’re not that great at assessing our leadership ability either – “80% of people think they are better-than-average leaders.”  If you’re sitting there reading this now and you’re a leader, you know the importance of leadership. But, if we’re not great at assessing ourselves, where do we start and how do we get better?

Where to Start: 

  1. Pick a leadership assessment that fits your needs. What gets measured gets improved. People are no different. Assessments provide a common language, build self-awareness, and create pathways for feedback to be delivered. But leadership assessments can take many forms. Whether you are looking for 360 feedback or more clarity on your behavioral tendencies, there are a range of assessments that can be tailored to the feedback you’d like to receive. Do some research – or check out ours – to find one that best measures what you’d like to improve.
  2. Use your leadership assessment as a conversation starter. Two-thirds of leaders are uncomfortable communicating generally with their team. One-third are uncomfortable giving direct feedback that they perceive might not be received well. Leadership assessments can put words to behaviors, thinking styles, or communication preferences that leaders have a hard time articulating.
  3. Remember that people can change. Leadership assessments offer insight to how someone tends to behave or tends to think. It’s their default mode. It doesn’t mean that someone can’t learn, grow and stretch themselves in different ways.
  4. Lead by example. If you’re asking your team to participate in a leadership skills assessment, go first. This sends the message that as a leader, the journey to improve never ends.

How to Get Better:

  1. Read – and interact with – your assessment results. Highlight the things you agree with, underline the things that you’re not sure about.
  2. On a scale of 1-10, rate your relationship to the report. One is “I don’t agree with anything on this report” and ten is “If you read this report, you’ll know everything about me.”
  3. Schedule a meeting with your direct leader. First, share how you rated your relationship to the report so they’re aware of the level of agreement. Then, dive into the results and what stuck out to you. Tell your leader where you stand with your report so that they’re not left guessing how you feel about it.
  4. Share your report with a friends or family member that knows you very well. Ask which comments resonate with them and what they might add.
  5. Choose three things you want to work on. Be specific. How will you know that you’re successful? When will you check your progress?
  6. Pick an accountability partner. Choose someone who will help hold you accountable and someone that you can regularly check in with.

While we may not be great at assessing our driving skills or our leadership skills, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to be better. There are 143,000,000 results when you Google “leadership assessments.” Regardless of which one you choose, regardless of what the results tell you, the importance of leadership requires each of to keep driving to be a better version of ourselves for the people around us.

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