The importance of leadership.
Many factors contribute to a leader’s effectiveness. Before getting into leadership strengths or skills, foremost is understanding the importance of leadership in an organization. Regardless of the industry, type, or size of an organization, objectives are met by aligning efforts towards a common goal and adjusting as necessary to changing circumstances. This is the work of the leader.
Leadership at all levels either contributes to or takes away from the success of the organization, but it is never neutral. Therefore, it is critical to understand the effectiveness of each leader. This insight will further allow you to understand and replicate what is working in your culture and which leaders need help in their effectiveness. At our parent company, Barry-Wehmiller, we go a step further. We want to know the impact leaders are having on the lives of the people in their span of care, their employees. The first step in doing this is to assess a leader’s performance.
What gets measured gets focused on.
Not one leadership style fits every situation and add to this dynamic a variety of different personalities, skills, and personality types from every unique leader. With all these variables occurring in the leadership of people and teams, how does an organization know a leader is being effective or not, well beyond the trailing indicators of turnover percent or performance numbers? Further, how can an organization’s leaders get objective feedback on how to be even better? This is where a leadership assessment comes in.
These assessments provide individuals and organizations insight into a leader’s effectiveness and potential for the next level of responsibility. In addition to getting invaluable self-awareness, leadership assessments can focus on specific competencies the organization would like to focus on and improve.
The importance of assessments.
Without the means to gauge a leader’s performance across a variety of metrics, situations, and cultures, leadership development can lack direction. Leadership assessments can provide feedback on critical parameters such as:
- Thinking styles
- Personality preferences
- Behavior tendencies such as expressiveness, adaptability, and assertiveness
- Competencies such as “manages ambiguity”
- Leadership styles
- Environment created by the leader
Rather than a corporate memo or directive, assessments provide backed by research proven metrics and/or direct feedback from a peer group, those the leader is leading, and their formal leader. This information can provide context for why a leader or group of leaders should change. The first step in change is understanding the current state. This is where the leadership assessment comes in, providing an individual information on how they perceive and interact with the world in a way specific to them. They also learn how their behaviors impact others around them in the organization – in ways they might do intentionally but are perceived by others. However, not all assessments are created equal. Choosing the right one is critical in getting the right outcome.
Choosing the right assessment.
There are a host of different leadership assessments. While each of these assessments are valuable, they offer different insights and require different levels of effort and investment. The easiest is the self-assessment of personality or behavior preference, such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Emergenetics, and DISC. These assessments increase a leader’s awareness of their “default modes.” In other words, how they would prefer and are naturally inclined to behave in any given situation.
The 360-leadership assessment requires more time and energy but can provide actionable information. The group providing the feedback includes a leader’s leader, their peer group (fellow leaders in a similar level within the organization), and their direct reports. This full circle of feedback, or 360, provides an individual a comprehensive report on how their actions are perceived, despite intention. Knowing is the first step in becoming better.
The impact of turning intuition into data.
Assessments can provide a common language, build self-awareness, and create pathways for feedback to be delivered. Leadership assessments turn intuition into data and create a common language, shared improvement goals, and a greater understanding of each other. By learning your personal communication preferences and the preferences of others, leaders can become more aware that success is determined in large part by how well a person interacts with others.
When leaders cultivate an environment where open and honest feedback is not only possible but expected, they learn what they are doing well, what they might do better, and where they need to improve. Regardless of an organization’s goals, assessing the current state of leadership and how to specifically improve will help them achieve their goals. Leadership, like any other function in an organization, can always be developed and improved. The first step towards this development and growth is assessing the current state. Leadership assessments provide a baseline for improvement and recurring feedback to measure progress. This progress has impact in the business and the lives of those in your organization’s span of care.