Leadership might be hard to define, but it’s easy to recognize. That doesn’t mean leaders are passive, resting on inherent abilities. True, some are born leaders and others learn how to become effective leaders. Both take work.
Leaders know that to lead they must keep up their leadership skills. But leadership isn’t only about inspiring others, it’s about knowing oneself. There are personality types, and there are leadership skills: it’s not one size fits all.
As with anything, complacency is poison. Fuel for leadership is constant curiosity and regular assessment. As to the latter, there are many ways for a person to asses their leadership qualities and, by so doing, strengthen their weaknesses and buttress their strengths.
Why It’s Good to Test Your Leadership Skills
Leadership is multifaceted, and so are the tools to assess and work on improving those skills. Leadership assessment tools provide practical steps that you can apply to measure your leadership and then work towards boosting relevant skills.
But the use of leadership assessment tools goes beyond the fact that they’re helpful. Just as you bring a car to the service station to make sure all its parts are working as they should, so it is important to test your leadership skills against a baseline and see where you stand and how you can reach higher.
There are no perfect leaders. Everyone has leadership traits that are their strengths and deficits that expose their weaknesses. But not everyone is aware of these pluses and minuses in their leadership makeup. That’s why a periodic test of leadership skills is like checking the oil on your leadership and seeing if you need another quart and where.
Research from the Experts
There’s also the bigger picture. Testing your leadership skills is key to business success. Research by the Center for Creative Leadership found that “65 percent of companies with mature succession management programs were effective at driving improved business results through leadership skills versus 6 percent of companies with no succession process.” The report goes on to opine that “one could argue that many of the failures in the financial and real estate sectors in recent years are at least in part attributable to ineffective leadership.”
The research also reports that 86 percent of the companies’ surveyed that had a leadership development program were able to quickly respond to changes in market conditions. If your organization has no leadership development program, then its up to you to take the initiative by using leadership assessment tools to make sure you’re more effective.
Related: How to Upskill Your Team
The Best Leadership Assessment Tools
While more structured programs and leadership training options can prove helpful, Henry Mintzberg, professor of management at McGill University, is quoted in an interview with the Harvard Business Journal as saying, “You don’t become a manager in a classroom and you certainly don’t become a leader in a classroom. Leadership is earned on the basis of people who choose to follow you. It’s not granted or anointed by some holy water granted in a school.”
That might be true, and Mintzberg correctly believes that “experience is critically important,” but without a means to gauge one’s ability to lead across several metrics, leadership lacks direction. Don’t blindly approach leadership. Here are some tools you can use to either start or continue fine-tuning your leadership adventure.
Officially called the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, this popular personality test is a good place to start on your leadership journey. It’s important to know what type of personality you have as there are many different leadership styles, and this will help you determine the best one for you.
The Meyers-Briggs questionnaire builds on Swiss psychiatrist’s C.G. Jung’s psychological types in a format that applies more directly to people’s lives. There are 16 distinctive personality types built from four principle psychological functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking, one of which is dominant.
It’s recommended to have the test administered by a certified consultant, counselor, coach or therapist. They are trained to deliver the test more accurately as well as provide feedback and context to your score. However, there are ample sites online that offer free, similar tests based on the Meyers-Briggs. While there has been criticism of Meyers-Briggs as unscientific as a horoscope, it’s fun and can offer insight, at least as a starting point.
USC’s Leadership Style Self-Assessment
Once you have a handle on who you are, then it’s a matter of discerning what type of leader you are. This test will help you determine what kind of leader you think you are. Because, let’s face it, most people have a distorted view of who they are. This is going to bleed into your perception of your leadership qualities, too.
How you might see yourself can be in opposition to how your team sees you, which is going to cause problems. Therefore, a leadership inventory will give you an impartial view of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. With this knowledge, you can take definite steps towards improving your management style.
No leadership theory is better than another. From a transformational leader to a servant leader or a front-line, postmodern, contrarian or metamodern leader, the types are nearly as varied as the people who take leadership positions. But each has its own unique impact on your performance, as all have their strengths and weakness. Find out which one suits you by taking this free quiz from the University of South California.
Emotional Intelligence Assessment
There are multiple intelligences, according to Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University. He was referring to the eight different ways people can learn, from linguistic to spatial. But there is also our capacity for understanding, which is usually measured by IQ.
But that’s a very broad brush with which to paint a person. It ignores the emotional quotient or our ability to recognize their own feelings and those of others. Leaders are people who feel just as any other, but they can’t allow themselves to be driven by those emotions. They must also be able to correctly identify the emotional makeup of those they’re leading. Work is stressful and stress is expressed emotionally, so leaders must know what to do when emotions spike or wane.
The Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP) in collaboration with the Harvard Business School research has determined that emotional intelligence (EQ) is twice as important as IQ and technical skills for successful leadership. The IHHP has a free EQ quiz to see where you are emotionally.
Leadership Blind Spots
It should be clear now that we’re not the best judge of our own character. We have inherent prejudice and our perspective is too close to see the whole picture of ourselves. These blind spots are especially dangerous because of the very fact that they’re unseen and so we proceed in ignorance.
The Princeton Management Consulting Group gives guidance for management and strategic organizational change. They offer a leadership blind spot assessment to help identify where there are blind spots in yourself, your team, your company and the markets you work in.
It’s an intensive survey with 10 questions in each category with a rating score between one and five, going from lowest probability of oversight to highest. The lower your overall score, the less likely you have a blind spot in that area. Of course, it’s only as accurate as you are honest in answering the questions. This test is best for those who have been in a leadership position for five years or more.
CliftonStrengths is a web-based assessment of what you naturally do best and how to develop your strongest talents and use the results to optimize your professional life. For $49.99, you get a complete profile of who you really are and how to maximize your potential.
First, is the hour-long assessment, which features 177 paired questions in which you choose the one that best describes you. This determines your patterns of behavior, thoughts and feelings to uncover your talents. The results will expose your greatest talents and how to explain them. This in turn helps you identify opportunities that best match these abilities.
This is one more way to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Unlike others that are free, you often get what you pay for. Putting a price tag on this service means you’re going to get a more in-depth summary and can hold the organization accountable for providing detailed findings.
Leadership is a process. There’s no endpoint. One can always learn to develop and expand their ability to lead a team to success. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that gives leaders the features to further motivate their teams by giving them the tools they need to succeed. From a real-time dashboard to keep you current on the team’s progress to kanban boards to visualize workflow, everyone wins. Be a real leader and take our free 30-day trial today.