Best Assessments for Leadership and Team Development

Assessments are an excellent way to help leaders and teams develop. Below are my top picks.  They’re organized into three groups: personality and behavior style self-assessments, 360 leadership assessments and team assessments.

Personality and Behavior Style Self-Assessments

The following are individually focused but may also be used with teams.

Everything DiSC – Workplace – This assessment uses a framework of four basic style preferences:  Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. It’s simple to understand but not simplistic. It is affordable, versatile and practical. It shows nuance for an individual’s results (the four basic styles are broken down into 12 styles) and provides personalized narrative about priorities, motivators, stressors and potential limitations.

Meyers-Briggs Type IndicatorThe MBTI measures four different pairs of opposite preferences, such as how we focus our attention and gain energy (Extroversion or Introversion) and how we make decisions (Thinking or Feeling.) There are different assessment and reporting options depending on whether you want to assess facets of personality within each pair of opposites.  The MBTI can be used for individual development, relationship effectiveness or career development.

Workplace Big 5 – Looking for a style preference assessment option other than the DiSC or MBTI? Try the Workplace Big 5, which assesses 5 key personality traits with sub traits. It’s not as well-known as the DiSC and MBTI, but the traits described in this assessment represent the ones that many in the psychological world say are the essential personality and style distinctions.

Hogan Assessments – The three key Hogan assessments were developed originally for hiring decisions and are typically taken together. They are now used for leader development and career management, too.  While more expensive than the DiSC and MBTI, they offer a valuable richness, depth and breadth.

Everything DiSC – Work of Leaders – This self-assessment incorporates a DiSC style preference assessment within a framework of easy-to-remember and well-researched leadership tasks organized into three categories: vision, alignment and execution. This assessment is especially valuable for leader development where an organization doesn’t already have a clearly defined leadership competency framework.

Challenge of Change – This assessment measures different tendencies that relate to how effectively someone handles pressure. While other assessments (e.g., Workplace Big 5, Hogan Personality Inventory, and Shadowmatch) measure overall resilience as one of several traits, the Challenge of Change focuses on resilience exclusively and breaks out components such as tendency to ruminate, be emotionally inhibited and avoidant. 

360 Degree Leadership Assessments

These 360 assessments are valuable for getting others’ input on a leader’s effectiveness and where the leader can improve. They are best used in conjunction with one of the style assessments above.

Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI 360) – This is a good tool to use when a company doesn’t already use a 360 assessment or when a basic and inexpensive assessment, rather than a Rolls Royce, is needed. The LPI 360 measures the extent to which the individual exhibits Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, which come from the research of Kouzes and Posner, described in their classic book: The Leadership Challenge. One very nice feature that is not available in most other 360 tools is the opportunity to add customized open-ended questions.

Leadership Versatility Index (LVI) – The LVI is a new favorite of mine. It is a premium 360, with the option to customize rater groups and tailor open-ended questions. It also uses a unique (and better) scale that asks people to assess whether they think the leader is using skills to the right extent instead of using the ‘more is always better’ approach. I also like the easy to understand and well-researched overall framework within which results are shown: strategic and operational, forceful and enabling. 

Team Assessments

Here are two fantastic team assessments. Each provides individualized reports within a team or group context.

Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team – Based on Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Wiley publishers incorporated an individual style assessment into this comprehensive team assessment. You can choose whether to use the Everything DiSC or an MBTI-like assessment called “All Types.” The combination of individualized style results within a team assessment of five key team behaviors is unique and powerful. A facilitator’s report suggests helpful discussion questions and possible areas of focus for the team.

Shadowmatch – The Shadowmatch Behavioral Benchmarking System is a fresh and sophisticated approach to understanding your team’s cultural dynamics, habits and how to improve group and individual performance. It came from extensive research born out of a desire to work effectively across government, business, education and religious sectors, along with ethnic groups, in post-apartheid South Africa. Now it’s highly regarded and used by several well-known global businesses and organizations. Features include measures across 19 behavior habits (e.g., resilience and responsiveness), task efficiency and conceptual application scores. An attitude result is also shown, and a timed assessment experience incorporates problem-solving and ‘real-life’ scenarios.

A team’s benchmark (i.e., shadow) can also be used to generate recruiting profiles and can inform individual development plans and staffing decisions. Interactive technology on the back-end allows a facilitator to show and adjust the comparison of team and individuals’ results while the team watches. It’s a very cool tool.

Each of these assessments produces results reports that are readable and understandable. To get the most value from any assessment, leverage a trained coach or facilitator who is skilled in using the assessment and experienced in leadership and team development. For more tips on using (or not using) assessments, see Don’t Waste your Organization’s Time and Money on Assessments or feel free to contact me.

Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. A leadership consultant, team development expert and executive coach for over 20 years, he is experienced in using a variety of assessments and other tools to helps leaders and their organizations achieve effective relationships and results that matter. You can reach him at jbaker@people-results.com or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.

Joe Baker