Picking the Right Leadership Assessment Tool: Looking at the Whole Person while Predicting Performance

Goose Creek Hogan Leadership Forecast One PageTalent management professionals often turn to assessments tools to enhance self-awareness and jumpstart the development of leaders. One of the most critical aspects of effective leadership development is picking the right combination of assessment tools.

A CEO-level leader we work with recently made the point, referencing Simon Sinek’s Infinite Game, that good leaders are not just responsible for quarterly and yearly results or what they accomplish across the finite landscape of their career, but that leadership is like a relay race with obstacles where they should be thinking about their future career and the people they will eventually hand the baton over to. When looking to improve the current performance a leaders and have them look ahead toward their future, it is critical to make sure that assessments explore all the dimensions of the whole person.

Korn Ferry, the talent management firm, has created a model that has identified the four dimensions of leadership in the workplace: competencies, experiences, traits and drivers.  As a firm we collaborate with frequently, Korn Ferry, we embrace that model.

Competencies are observable and measurable behaviors that are critical to the success of leaders. Life experiences and job assignments are crucial and, perhaps, most important to development and growth. If you imagine an iceberg where the ice that is above the water line is easy to see, competencies and experiences are the things that are most easy to see and easiest to develop.

Like that iceberg, however, there is much more below the waterline than is above it. That’s where personality characteristics and motivators exist. These are not things that people usually change, but, instead of things that people leverage or mitigate against in order to be effective.

Exploring each of these four categories is critical to developing as a leader because improving your competence or behaviors is a different journey for everyone based on what motivates them and what natural personality inclinations they bring to the table. In addition, competencies are fluid and provide an idea of where a leader is currently, however, motivators and personality characteristics are more stable and better predict performance and risks in the future.

The final key element that we add to the mix are derailers – what we at Goose Creek consider the fifth and, perhaps most important, dimension – and those are derailers, which are the things that are going to create roadblocks to the success of individuals.

We often combine 360-degree, multi-rater assessments to measure competencies and interviews and resume reviews to explore experiences and separate assessments to explore motives, values, personality and derailers. Our most frequent tools are 360-degree assessments with validated data, like the KF 360, combined with the Hogan Assessments, which examine personality, motives and derailment.

Our rationale is based on these concepts:

  • Snapshot View of Current Performance: 360-Degree feedback comes from a particular group of raters, at a particular time and when someone is in a particular position. A 360 gives you an immediate idea of how people currently working with a person perceive their competence in different behavioral areas. The strength of a 360 is that it is real-time and it includes comments but its weaknesses include the limits of the data and some gender differences in ratings. If you imagine a giant circle, those are all the people in the world. Inside that circle are all the people in a leaders organization. Inside that second circle are the people who are asked to provide feedback on the 360. Inside that third circle is another one that includes the people who choose to respond and provide feedback. That creates a limited data set. The second challenge with 360s is that women tend to rate themselves harder and raters tend to rate women harder and provide less feedback. All these things need to be noted when giving feedback on a 360 assessment.
  • Motion Picture of Performance: The Hogan Assessments – the Hogan Personality Inventory, the Hogan Development Survey and the Motives, Values and Preferences Inventory – provide a motion picture view of a leader. They provide information about how a person appears to others prior to the assessment, at the current time and how they will likely appear in the future. The Hogan measures reputation by asking a broad group of people who they perceive people who answer questions the way a participant does. For example, the raters may say that people who say they are sensitive tend to be sensitive. At the same time, raters may say that a person who says they are never manipulative, tends to be manipulative. The raters do not know your race, gender or national origin, so bias is no longer a factor
  • Better Data when Combined Together:  When you combine these types of assessments together you get a snapshot view and a motion picture view that can be applied in other job roles and scenarios. It also decreases the likelihood of needing to constantly re-assess leaders.

While 360s alone can be useful, it is difficult to assess the whole person if you do not consider their motives, values, preferences, personality and the things that are going to derail them. Our approach is to combine the data from these two different types of assessments to create a custom report for leaders about what they should focus on now and focus on over the horizon. This builds broader self-awareness that allows individuals to target behaviors for change and internalize those changes.

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