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Leadership Development Blog

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How To Choose The Right Leadership Questionnaire

Posted by Paul O'Keefe on Jun 23, 2017 12:39:00 PM

leadership_questionnaire.jpgQuestionnaires, assessments, evaluations and skills tests abound in every industry, for every purpose and for almost every phase of an employee’s career.

The sheer number and variety of questionnaires can be overwhelming. Without a doubt, assessing your leaders is a good idea, but only if you are clear as to the purpose of the assessment.

There are questions that affect the type of assessment you want to use with your leaders.

Two of the most important questions are:

  • What do you want out of your leaders?
  • What do you want the questionnaire to do?

 What Do You Want Out of Your Leaders?

Different industries require different sets of skills form their leaders and employees. Tied into the query of what you want out from your leaders is the question of what type of industry you're in. 

You will also need to decide if these are questionnaires to be implemented in the beginning in order to discover the skills and aptitudes of new employees or are they to be implemented in an evaluative manner to assess employee performance and behavior in the organization (or both). 

What Do You Want the Leadership Questionnaire to Do?

This is an important question because what you want the questionnaire to do will drive what kind of questionnaire you get. The purpose of the questionnaire will drive what type you choose to use.

  • There are questionnaires, which are more like surveys, for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your leaders. You don’t necessarily need a performance appraisal if you’re looking to grow your leadership.
  • There are questionnaires – performance appraisals – that are more like evaluations and are meant only to rate your leaders. They’re not designed to be used with a growth model.
  • There are questionnaires that come at the beginning of a prospective employee’s career in order to determine their skills and aptitudes.
  • There are questionnaires to decipher the leadership style of your mid- and upper-level employees. You don't need this sort of leadership style test for a manager who has been with you for 15 years and is well aware of their leadership style.

Initial Questionnaires - Skills and Aptitudes Test

These types of evaluations are administered to discover the skills and aptitudes of your employees in general early on. They are especially helpful at the outset of a burgeoning leader’s career. Often this type of questionnaire hones in on the basic skills of the general employee; whereas, when it’s designed for leadership it focuses on those skills most necessary for a leader to be successful.

These basic leadership surveys can delve into questions such as: Is this individual a communicator? Does this individual have interpersonal skills? Does this individual have the requisite knowledge to lead others?  Do they make their colleagues and subordinates feel at ease and comfortable?

Such questionnaires are especially helpful when scouting for prospective leaders for your organization. Given that, it’s best practices to administer this test at the outset of an employee’s track into leadership. These surveys can be used in conjunction with a training program that helps the prospective or newly installed leader grow into their role.

Leadership Style Questionnaires

Most everyone, no matter the industry, is familiar with this sort of evaluation: What sort of leader are your mid- and upper-level managers? There are a variety of tracks that this sort of questionnaire can take. 

Focusing On Three Leadership Styles

One type of questionnaire delineates three categories into which your leaders may fall

  • Authoritarian (autocratic)
  • Participative (democratic)
  • Delegative (empowering)

The higher an individual scores in a particular category with this sort of survey, the more they are that specific type of leader.

Focusing On Six Leadership Styles

Another type of questionnaire sets up six leadership styles. Individuals take the test, are scored and identified as one of six types:

  1. The coercive leader is most aggressive and functions under the “do as I say do” premise. This leader leads through fear and compliance, but can also be most efficient and get things done.
  2. The authoritative leader is a visionary and motivates employees. This leader creates an agreeable and innovative environment.
  3. The affiliate leader is the most harmonious and tolerant of the leader types. This leader is extremely interested in everyone’s well-being, often to the detriment of the expressed goal.
  4. The democratic leader is a consensus builder and pulls in everyone to participate. This leader plays fair, but is easily sidetracked by many opinions. This individual doesn’t handle emergencies well.
  5. The pacesetting leader has high expectations and pushes everyone to rise up to them. This is a risky approach and can make subordinates feel they’re not good enough.
  6. The coaching leader is the motivator and supporter. This can be a micromanager but also a great mentor.

Finding out the leadership style of your mid- and upper-level staff is critical. You want to know their style and if it works well with the culture and community of your work environment. Such questionnaires can illuminate characteristics and proclivities that may get in the way of that individual being a strong leader.

For example, if a prospective leader scores highly in the “coercive leader” category, you might want to steer clear of them if your work environment is collaborative with an “all-hands-equally-on-deck” work ethos.

Another example of how this can be used is if you’re in a field that demands quick correct decisions that tend to be a matter of life and death, say for instance, EMTs or fire departments; a democratic leadership style may get in the way of life and death snap decisions that must be acted upon immediately.

Performance Appraisal For Evaluations

The performance appraisal is your basic rating scale evaluation. This type assessment is purely evaluative and not intended for growing the individual. Often it's derived from the mission statement and organizational goals of your company. With a performance appraisal, leaders may be evaluated on a wide range of skills.

They can be evaluated on how they shape and grow the organization's strategic focus, how they communicate the company’s vision with employees and clients and how well they relate to them in general. They may be evaluated on their financial acumen and their ability to steer whatever sized ship they’ve been given and to steer it successfully.

The 360 Degree Assessment

The 360 degree assessment is the actual rubric that other employees familiar with the work and practices of a specific employee fill out. One key component of this sort of assessment is that the individual be evaluated by their supervisor, colleagues, subordinates and customers.

The 360 degree assessment is but a small part of the 360 degree feedback and training. The underlying premise of this type of evaluation is Johari’s Window, which admits that we all have hidden attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that can either hinder or help us and must be revealed.

The Right Questionnaire Will Boost Your Leadership and Your Organization

As can be seen, the type of industry plays a key role in what sort of questionnaire you want to use. Further, the purpose behind the survey is also important. Choosing the correct questionnaire to fit the needs of your organization is necessary, however, a well-chosen and properly implemented questionnaire can provide insight into your leadership team and offer many benefits to your company.

Click here to learn about our Leatherman Leadership Questionnaire or contact us at (800) 305-2025. 

 

Topics: Employee Development, leadership development

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