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9 Leadership Assessment Tools for Recruiters and CEOs
If you remember, from last week, we promised a sequel to our guide on leadership and leadership skills. Today, we will discuss leadership assessment. As recruiters and executives, we all have a good idea of what a good leader is. We may also indulge in using theories and schools of thought to identify a particular leadership style we want to find in candidates or nurture in existing employees.
As always, things are not that easy. While listing all the leadership skills you want an individual to display, you learn soon enough that you need tests and instruments to help with your endeavor. Today’s topic is leadership assessment tools, their validity, performance predictability power, and best ways to use them!
1. The Leadership Aptitude Test by the Hire Talent
The Leadership Predictor Profile is a leadership assessment that evaluates a candidate or an employee across multiple dimensions. The assessment tool contains personality inventories, cognitive ability testing, and specific leadership skills measurements.
As a leadership assessment tool, the instrument addresses both recruiters and companies.
- It helps HR specialists identify a natural fit for leadership based on their measured cognitive skills, competencies, personality traits, plenty of soft employability skills, and more.
- This tool is an excellent choice for executives when identifying, training, and promoting leaders from within the company ranks.
The Leadership Predictor Profile measures niche leadership knowledge and abilities, leadership styles, and so on. Here are the advantages of this tool for recruiters and organizations:
- application easiness (a few clicks);
- clear-to-interpret test results;
- and free hiring consulting on results analysis and the tool’s best uses.
You can use this instrument as an HR agency, as a company’s HR department, etc.
2. The DiSC Personality Test
We had discussed the DiSC Personality Inventory when we highlighted recruiting the world’s most popular personality assessments. As we said then, this personality test works less as a job performance predictor and more as an overall assessment of an individual’s personality style. Recruiters and organizations can use it both pre and during employment to make easier associations between a personality trait and a leadership style. Let’s take a quick look over what DISC means:
- Dominance – in this category, you can find active and task-oriented, competitive, and confident leaders. These individuals place their emphasis on results.
- Influence – individuals with high influence scores are people-oriented, active, open, communicative, collaborative, etc. They praise relationships, influence, and persuasion.
- Steadiness – this style is common to candidates and employees that are honest, dependable, and cooperative. They are people-oriented and reserved.
- Compliance – in this category, you will find individuals that are active, task-oriented, and emphasize quality, accuracy, expertise, etc.
Suppose you consider these personality styles and try to match them with a specific leadership style. In that case, you can easily figure out that a high score on influence can be a predictor of a democratic leadership style or a coach leadership style. We will discuss the styles a little bit later in this guide.
Is the DISC Test Valid for Leadership Assessment?
Can you base your entire leadership assessment solely on the DISC test results? We would not recommend it.
An open and communicative individual may prove to display a laissez-faire leadership style – which is effective only to some extent.
On the other hand, a DISC profile exuding dominance might make you think you identified a transactional leadership style or, worse, an autocratic style – and it might not be the case.
We are trying to say that you should use multiple leadership assessment tools when searching for a new generation of leaders to hire and grow. It is the same procedure to employ when you list the leadership skills you want to test for in the hiring/growing process.
3. The Big 5 Personality Test
Next on our list of leadership assessment tools is the Big 5 Personality Test, one of the most valid and used instruments in recruiting to date. We mentioned it on our list of current personality assessments academics, psychologists, recruiters, and companies employ in current practice.
The Big 5 assessment repeatedly proved to be an excellent job performance predictor. But how does it correlate with certain leadership styles? What does it tell us about the qualities of a good leader we are looking for inside and outside the organization?
It should not come as a surprise the fact that studies showed that
The five-factor characteristics extraversion, intellectual curiosity (or openness to experience), emotional stability, and conscientiousness were also associated with leadership effectiveness and leadership emergence, making these traits particularly relevant to consider concerning behaviors displayed during leader development.Blair C.A., Palmieri R.E., and Paz-Aparicio C. (2018) Do Big 5 Personality Characteristics and Narcissism Predict Engagement in Leader Development? Front. Psychol. 9:1817. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01817.
An interesting thesis that deserves attention is making connections between Big 5 personality traits and leadership styles. Let’s see an example:
[there is a ] significant positive relationship between extraversion and a more transformational leadership style. There was a significant negative relationship between conscientiousness and a more autocratic leadership style.Easley S. (2019). The Relationship Between Leadership Style and Personality Type Among College Students, Dominican University of California. Doi:10.33015/dominican.edu/2019.HONORS.ST.16.
Risks and Limitations of Using the Big 5 Personality Test in Leadership Assessment
Identifying personality traits and their correlation with leadership styles is a double-bladed sword. On the one hand, using the Big 5 Personality Test, recruiters and companies can select candidates and employees for leading positions or leadership development programs. On the other hand, if we refer to the research above, we learn that:
someone more social prefers to work with a leader that emphasizes communication (transformational leadership style). In contrast, someone who is more organized is less likely to prefer to work with a very strict leader (autocratic leadership style).
What does it mean for pre-employment leadership assessment, employee evaluation processes, leadership programs, and organizational psychology?
- The lesson is that if you do not match the employees’ personality traits and leadership styles with the ones of the leaders they are going to work with, you risk high employee turnover and internal conflict.
- Another lesson here is that we cannot solely rely on personality tests to offer us the next generation of leaders. As Blair, Palmieri, and Paz-Aparicio discovered, agreeableness is not usually a predictor of leadership emergence of effectiveness. However, they showed it was a good predictor of those behaviors we all consider positive in leader development programs.
4. The Integrity Test by the Hire Talent
No matter the leadership style you look for when assessing candidates (for employment or leadership development programs), integrity should be present across the board. If you wonder – as a recruiter or employee – what are the five leadership skills companies recruit for, the answer is easy. There are more than just five leadership skills that make a difference.
However, any such list starts with integrity. It is a crucial personal dimension, which influences everything from work ethics to building relationships with others. Therefore, a specialized integrity test should be among the top leadership assessments to use.
The test is easy to apply, and the results’ interpretation method makes it easy for the recruiter/executive to identify the best candidates. The test delivers a shortlist of individuals displaying:
- ethics, and so on.
5. The Leadership Style Assessment
The literature on leadership styles is vast, and you may find these styles named and defined differently. You will hear questions along the lines of “what are the 7 leadership styles” or “what are the four basic leadership styles?”
Over the years, many psychologists have developed more than one leadership definition and plenty of theories to pinpoint leadership styles. You can use the Leadership Style Matrix, the Six Emotional Leadership Styles theory, or the famous Lewin Leadership Style Framework.
In current practice, recruiters and executives discuss eight major leadership styles:
- Democratic leadership;
- Laissez-faire (also known as delegating leadership);
- Transactional leadership;
- Transformational leadership;
- Charismatic leadership;
- Servant leadership;
- Bureaucratic leadership.
What you have to understand is that you will rarely, if ever, find a standardized leadership style assessment. Most leadership assessment tests evaluating the styles come in the shape of online quizzes. Consider each of them a leadership self-assessment of sorts.
They mostly answer the public’s question, “what is your leadership style?” and are helpful when individuals want to learn more about themselves.
If you want to start somewhere in your research for leaders, you could try the leadership styles test from Psychology Today. It contains 56 questions, and the candidate you want to test can take the assessment online.
Remember, it is one tool of many, and you will most likely get a general idea about your candidate. Such leadership assessment tools will not serve you, leaders, on a plate.
No matter the results you obtain, you always have to find correlations with validated leadership assessment inventories, people skills tests, personality tests, cognitive tests, emotional intelligence tests, predictor profiles, etc.
6. Structured Interviews
We don’t have any “one-size-fits-all” methods of finding the best candidates in the interview department. What we do have are structured interviews. Recruiters evaluate candidates’ answers against a set of behavioral standards. Compared to unstructured interviews, the structured ones constantly proved their worth as performance predictors.
During this type of leadership assessment, the recruiter/executive uses a set of situational and behavioral interview questions to assess how the candidate would respond to specific leadership-centric contexts.
7. Multi-source Ratings
Better known as 360-degree evaluations, such leadership assessment tools work best when looking for employees for promotions and leadership development programs. This evaluation type requires feedback from managers, peers, subordinates, collaborators, etc., regarding the assessed employee’s job performance.
As you know from current practice, 360-degree assessments come with a high level of subjectivity, inflated ratings, bad ratings for personal reasons, peer pressure, fear of criticism, and more. You cannot take their results at face value. However, they extract valuable feedback you can use to build further the leadership assessment tools and processes.
Admittedly, simulations are difficult because they require great amounts of resources. However, if you want a more direct leadership assessment approach, you can place an individual into a real-life job simulation. Candidates have to work with data, solve problems, make decisions, collaborate with peers and managers, engage in multitasking, motivate others, delegate, and so on.
This type of leadership assessment is probably the closest match to the challenges leaders have to deal with in their daily work environments. Therefore, they are among the best predictors of job performance you can get.
9. Direct Observations
This tool, while not standardized, is among the easiest to use by seasoned recruiters/executives who recruit leaders within the company. In any organization, you have some individuals that stand out. They can show a mix of people skills, charm, hard work, competence, initiative, integrity, an inclination to self-development, coaching abilities, empathy, emotional intelligence, etc.
Organizations don’t have to do much to recruit such employees for leadership positions. They have to be patient and watch closely how the respective employees grow.
What Is The Best Leadership Assessment Tool?
As you know, we rarely pinpoint an instrument and say it is the absolute best. When it comes to leadership assessment, we prefer using entire batteries, tests, and inventories that evaluate a candidate across multiple dimensions. Some use an introvert/extrovert test to identify charismatic and influential leadership styles. This perspective is reductive, in our opinion. People are more complex and can grow so much more than their perceived temperament.
When you decide what is the best leadership assessment tool for your leadership development program, recruiting, promotions, etc. here is what you need to know or do:
- Ground all the tests/interviews/simulations in the real-life challenges and demands of the particular leadership role. If you test for skills and aptitudes that do not link with what executives need to do/show at their job, you will not get anywhere;
- Always use trained, experienced evaluators for leadership assessments. Applying an online quiz to candidates and reading the generated results will not cut it.
- Try building comprehensive behavioral evaluation guides for your behavioral interviews and simulations;
- Use as many reliable, empirically validated, and standardized tests as you can. Observations, simulations, 360° feedback, etc., are excellent instruments, but they only show you the tip of the iceberg. It is hard to use them to make definitive comparisons between candidates/employees.
- Make sure you mix the leadership assessment tools to get a picture as clear and wide as possible regarding candidates.
Leadership Assessment: Bottom Line
Leadership assessment is crucial in finding people to count on in the future, individuals to nurture and help grow. Whether you focus on testing specific leadership skills or relying on a leadership style assessment, your job is not easy. Many like to believe that leaders are born. However, it is why leadership development programs are here – they help us find the naturally inclined ones or coach the talented ones into becoming veritable leaders.
In other words, do everything in your power to evaluate the qualities of a good leader and correlate test results until you get your answer.
Now, it is time for you to offer your two cents on leadership assessment! Do you use such tools in your current practice? Do you find them efficient? What other leadership styles, traits, or frameworks do you rely on when designing evaluation tools?
We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter!
Blair C.A., Palmieri R.E., and Paz-Aparicio C. (2018) Do Big 5 Personality Characteristics and Narcissism Predict Engagement in Leader Development? Front. Psychol. 9:1817. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01817.
Day, D. V., Fleenor, J. W., Atwater, L. E., Sturm, R. E., and McKee, R. A. (2014). Advances in leader and leadership development: a review of 25 years of research and theory. Leadersh. Q. 25, 63–82. Doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.11.004
Easley S. (2019) The Relationship Between Leadership Style and Personality Type Among College Students, Dominican University of California. Doi:10.33015/dominican.edu/2019.HONORS.ST.16.
Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., and Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality and leadership: a qualitative and quantitative review. J. Appl. Psychol. 87, 765–780. Doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.4.765.
Judge, T. A., Piccolo, R. F., and Kosalka, T. (2009). The bright and dark side of leader traits: A review and theoretical extension of the leader trait paradigm. Leadersh. Q. 20, 855–875. Doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.09.004.
Strang, S. E., and Kuhnert, K. W. (2009). Personality and leadership developmental levels as predictors of leader performance. Leadersh. Q. 16, 419–439. Doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.03.009.
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