Leaders play a big part in the success of their organizations. They drive growth, encourage innovation, and help companies meet their goals. Good leaders are effective because they possess a unique set of skills and personality traits that enable them to take charge and inspire confidence in their team.
But finding the right leader for a given team can often feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. How do you identify whether a candidate has what it takes to be a leader? We recommend putting their abilities to the test with a leadership assessment.
What is a leadership assessment?
A leadership assessment is a test or set of tests used to assess a person’s ability to lead and manage people. Employers and recruiters employ these assessments to find the right leaders for their organizations.
Some popular skills that employers often check for include team management, task delegation, mediation, and creativity. But “leadership qualities” can mean different things to different companies. While some organizations are in search of project managers that can direct existing teams, others want risk-takers to inspire disengaged employees.
The right leadership assessment can help identify a person’s leadership style so you can see whether it aligns with your needs.
Why are leadership assessments important?
Every company has one primary goal: to grow. But you'll need to set the right goals and get everyone in your organization moving in the right direction in order to be successful. This goal setting and direction comes from your leaders.
Leaders help innovate and enable company progress by:
- Developing strategies for growth. They help define objectives and devise ways to achieve them.
- Boosting motivation and collaboration. Leaders foster a sense of team spirit within their subordinates, encouraging them to work together and motivate one another.
- Investing in employees. Wise leaders know that investing in their employees will refine their skills, which will also benefit the company.
The right leaders are able to work with their team to determine what steps to take. And they inspire their teams to go beyond the bare minimum to achieve results. When you give a good leader a goal, they can figure out what it will take to accomplish that goal, and they can lead their team to get it done.
This is why it’s so important to invest time and energy into finding the right leadership talent.
What skills and traits are important for leaders?
Daniel Goleman (famous psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence) believes two abilities make a great leader:
- Emotional intelligence: the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and the ability to empathize with others’.
- Self-awareness: the ability to look inward to gain knowledge of our own character and the reasons behind our actions.
A leader lacking in emotional intelligence and, consequently, empathy could deprive subordinates of appreciation and praise. Since 66% of your employees consider quitting because they feel unappreciated, you'll want to make sure you staff your leadership roles with individuals who have high emotional IQs.
But emotional intelligence and self-awareness are qualities that are hard to assess. A candidate’s experience and education alone aren't good measures of the traits and soft skills required to lead a company. So how do you identify good leaders?
A mistake here could lead to an expensive mishire (companies lose nearly 30% of the role’s first-year earnings when they take on a bad hire). Since your leaders have such an influential role in your company it's even more important to get these hires right.
Leadership assessments can help take the guesswork out of finding good leaders. They measure a person’s soft skills, personality traits, and even leadership style. In this manner, you can decide whether a person will be a good fit in your company and could contribute towards your growth.
In addition to this, insights from leadership assessments can help leaders grow by identifying their strengths and fostering them, while also highlighting areas for improvement.
Types of leadership assessments
Here are some popular assessments that can help you suss out whether or not a candidate might be a good leader.
The DISC test
The DISC test is based on a model developed by psychologist William Marston for behavioral assessment. It classifies how we express emotions into the four behavior types of DISC: dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness (C).
This test can help you understand each of your candidates (as well as current team members) better and build effective ways to collaborate and communicate as a team.
The DISC test studies individuals under two domains; the external and the internal. The external domain assesses how they interact with others and their external environment while the internal assesses how well they process their thoughts.
The upper two quadrants represent assertive and extroverted people while the bottom two represent reserved and introverted individuals.
The two quadrants on the left represent task-focused and driven individuals, while the two on the left represent people-focused and people-driven.
The four different combinations of these traits form the four personalities: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.
- Dominance: extroverted and task-focused. These individuals are aggressive problem solvers, quick on their feet, and know-how to communicate effectively and efficiently. Problem-solving is a strength while hasty decisions and impatience are weaknesses.
- Influence: extroverted and people-focused. These individuals are interactive and socially adept. The DISC type needs recognition to function. Reliance on people’s approval as motivation is their weakness.
- Steadiness: introverted and people-focused. These individuals prefer fewer interactions and take their time making decisions. They’re dependent on people, feelings, and relationships.
- Compliance: introverted and task-focused. These individuals are cautious in terms of both work and social interactions. They are logical, analytical, and have great attention to detail.
The 16 types test
The 16 types test gives insight into a candidate’s source of energy, the way they process information, how they make decisions, and the kind of lifestyle they prefer. It is similar to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The results of the test should not be used for evaluative purposes, but as a way to get to know the candidate better and obtain talking points for an interview.
It assesses candidates based on four preferences:
- Extraversion (E) is a preference for social interaction and the outer world, while Introversion(N) is an aversion to it and a preference for one’s own thoughts
- Sensing (S) is a preference for reality and facts, while Intuition(I) is a preference for ideas and information
- Thinking (T) is a preference for logic, while Feeling(F) shows a preference for relationships
- Judgment (J) is a preference for structure and planning, while Perception(P) is a preference for flexibility and possibilities
These eight different preferences combine to make up 16 different personality types:
- ISTJ - detail-oriented leader: quiet and structured, often on top of everything and good with meeting deadlines
- ESTJ - decisive leader: practical but also take calculated risks, they like getting the job done through collaboration and ensure the team meets the goals
- ISFJ - the thoughtful leader: organized and considerate, these individuals are often motivated by their team and their emotions when making decisions
- ESFJ - the generous leader: diplomatic and empathetic, these individuals often put the needs of their teams before their own
- ISTP: The tactical leader: effective and observant, the ISTP leader likes to let people work however they like as long as they deliver results.
- ESTP: the fearless leader: efficient problem-solver and inspiring, these leaders are great at motivating their teams and communicating effectively
- ISFP: the sensitive leader: compassionate and gentle, these individuals lead quietly, and are flexible with their teams, and are motivated by people’s emotions. They are best at leading causes
- ESFP - the charismatic leader: inspiring and full of positive energy, these leaders get very excited about accomplishing tasks and know how to make their team feel the same way
- INTJ - the strategic leader: determined and focused, these individuals are great at delegation and executing plans but aren’t great at connecting with their team
- ENTJ - the assertive leader: decisive and confident, the ENTJ leader aim high and are able to often accomplish seemingly impossible tasks and don’t let people’s emotions come in the way
- INTP - the unconventional leader: curious and autonomous, these leaders like to experiment and encourage their team to do the same.
- ENTP - the innovative leader: strategic and experimental, these individuals are great trouble-shooters and aggressively try new strategies while trying to motivate their team to do the same.
- INFJ - the perceptive leader: intuitive and passionate, these leaders tend to be lenient and compassionate with their team but often hard on their own selves, and like to be associated with humanitarian causes.
- ENFJ - the passionate leader: motivational and understanding, these leaders encourage their teams and work alongside them. They are also great at mediation.
- INFP - the sincere leader: empathetic and innovative, the INFP leader likes working on ideas with the team and developing strategies together. They’re also great listeners.
- ENFP - the inspirational leader: encouraging and imaginative, these leaders love experimenting and want to see how their teams can accomplish goals in their own unique and autonomous way.
The Enneagram test
Several modern businesses rely on the Enneagram test to identify leaders and refine their teams.
The Enneagram test follows the personality model developed in the teachings of O. Ichazo and C. Naranjo. The model maps out nine different personalities on a nine-pointed diagram describing the core beliefs and the worldview each one operates from.
This test maps people’s minds onto one of nine personality types, each assigned a number. It provides insight into their leadership styles, strengths, and challenges. Here’s a rundown of the various types:
Here’s a summary of our different Enneagram types:
- The Reformer: leads by example, is responsible and practical
- The Helper: leads through motivation, is supportive, and can be manipulative
- The Achiever: leads with goals, is ambitious and adaptable
- The Individualist: leads through vision, is intuitive and creative and self-absorbed
- The Investigator: leads through planning, seeks knowledge, and is analytical
- The Loyalist: leads through collaboration, is committed, and assesses risks well
- The Enthusiast: leads through innovation, is determined and experimental
- The Challenger: leads through strategic vision, is confident and proactive
- The Peacemaker: leads through mediation, is diplomatic and respectful
Several corporate giants rely on the Enneagram test to understand their employees and their team structure. Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify, stated the following on the Tim Ferris show:
“Shopify is very partial to Enneagram, it has worked very well for us. In our internal system, you can see the Enneagram of everyone else, and it tells you what nuances, what means for how to work together…We want to find out what areas people have a fixed mindset on and try to get them to acquire a growth mindset.”
Leadership & people management by TestGorilla
You can also find skills assessments online that are specifically meant to assess leadership skills. One such example is TestGorilla’s Leadership & people management test. This test evaluates a candidate’s ability to lead others within an organization using both influence and guidance.
This test will help you hire leaders who can support and develop others to help your organization grow by assessing each candidates’ ability to:
- Delegate authority and task responsibility
- Plan and support the development of others
- Provide timely guidance and feedback
- Gain acceptance of ideas and plans
Find the right leaders with assessments
Leaders are often the difference between an organization’s success and failure. In the pursuit of the right people, spend some time and effort on choosing, developing, and conducting your tests. This will help you understand the people you’re about to take on board and plan how to achieve your long term goals. Negligence at this stage will likely be very costly in the future.
Don't leave leadership up to chance! Use leadership assessments to help you find the right people so your company is always guided by great leaders.