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Leadership Development Blog

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Unlock Great Leaders With Leadership Skills Assessments

Posted by Paul O'Keefe on Jul 5, 2016 1:00:00 PM

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Upper leadership always wonders: Is there a way to evaluate a new employee to see if they have leadership potential? Of course, time and experience reveal whether an employee really has what it takes; but, is there another (quicker) way?

The answer is yes: A leadership skills assessment is an effective way to figure out if a new hire or present employee has the potential to be a great leader.

Why Is A Leadership Skills Assessment Necessary?

No organization wants to invest resources in an employee who doesn’t have the requisite qualities to be a strong, effective leader. It's often argued that there are some qualities, character traits and capabilities that simply can’t be taught; instead they are innate to an individual and can only be developed and nurtured not instilled.

What qualities and characteristics should a quality leadership skills assessment tool uncover?

A well designed leadership skills assessment tool will uncover the qualities and traits that a leader must have in order to be most effective. It will uncover how well this individual will fare under certain conditions and situations. Here are some of the most important leadership qualities:

  • Communicating effectively
  • Influence and negotiation
  • Managing change and conflict
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Setting goals and standards
  • Performance management, coaching and counseling

Even though this list may appear to exclude certain important traits, many of these characteristics can be subsumed under this general list. For example, honesty and integrity fit easily under standards.

LOOK: See what a sample Leadership Skills Assessment looks like

Here's an expansion on why these qualities should be important to you when developing your employees: 

Communicating Effectively

Every strong leader should be an excellent communicator on a personal and professional level. Are they able to express their ideas and thoughts clearly and compellingly? When they speak, do people want to listen? Is your potential leader persuasive? How well do they encourage and inspire? Do their workers feel comfortable and able to talk to them about anything, or do they tiptoe around their leader because they're afraid of what they'll say? A great leader can say what they mean with clarity, and in a way that their employees are drawn to them and want to perform for them. They must be able to navigate tough situations and have critical conversations without devastating those around them.

Influence and Negotiation

The ability to influence and negotiate is heavily tied into being an effective communicator. Every useful leadership skills assessment tool will determine a prospective leader's potential to influence others and evaluate their ability to negotiate the various sticky situations that will arise. Additionally, they have to be able to negotiate the variety of personalities they're sure to encounter. This characteristic demands the ability to quickly and accurately assess situations and people to take appropriate action and reach positive outcomes.

Setting Goals and Standards

It's oft-quoted: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Does your prospective leader have a plan? Do they have long-term and short-term goals for themselves and their future employees? Goals must be SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Research shows that they must also be written. One study of Harvard MBA students found that 84% had no goals, 13% had mental goals, and only 3% had written goals. Fast forward 10 years, the 13% with mental goals earned two times as much as the 84% with no goals, and the 3% with written goals earned 10 times as much as the other 97% combined! What does this say? An effective leader must be a goal setter, with clarity and vision, and have a plan for fulfilling their goals. If you want a great leader, look for and develop a SMART goal setter.

You must also ask your potential leader: What standards are you holding yourself and others to? No one wants a leader who lacks integrity and is dishonest and untrustworthy. All leaders must hold themselves and their employees to high standards.

Managing Conflict and Change

These two are usually hand-in-hand. Conflict frequently brings change, and change, in turn, brings conflict. In fact, true change will necessitate some level of conflict between the old and new. How well does a potential leader handle both conflict and change has to be determined. How they work with their employees as they try to negotiate the changes and conflict is extremely important as well. This sometimes means being able to work with challenging personalities in difficult circumstances that pull out the worst. In such a climate, an effective leader must be able to forge win-win solutions whenever possible in spite of the conflict and change. At the same time, they must continue to push the organization in the direction of progress and forward movement.

Problem Solving and Decision Making

Every good leadership skills assessment tool will evaluate a potential leaders’ ability to solve problems and make decisions. A company flounders under a leader who can’t quickly assess a situation and make wise decisions. Waffling and indecision is a weakness. Further, poor problem solving is a flaw, which will negatively impact your employees and company rather rapidly. These two traits must be determined quickly.

Performance Management, Coaching and Counseling

How well would your prospective leader grow their employees? Will they be a help or a hindrance? Coaching, counseling and performance management all deal with a potential leader's ability to develop their employees. Of all the traits, these are the ones that can be most easily trained. You can teach an up-and-coming leader how to coach and counsel their employees; you can train them in helping their employees to achieve more.

However, even with these traits, there is an intrinsic intangible that supports strong leadership in this area: People skills. Some people are just better at “relating” to others. They're more skilled at drawing out the best in others. They’re natural-born coaches and counselors, who with a little help, become great leaders. So, yet again, this skill needs to be determined before you embark upon developing that new employee into a leader. You need to see if they have some capacity for this at the outset.

What kinds of leadership skills assessments are available?

There are plenty of general leadership skills assessment tools that are quick and easy. Most of these are readily available online. However, if you want a leadership skills assessment tool based upon quality research that offers solid results then you need to turn to companies that specialize in developing such instruments. 

View the customized Leadership Skills Assessment options from Edge Training

High-quality leadership skills assessments are a must for every organization. Before you pour resources into a new employee, figure out whether they have the capacity to be a great leader. A science-based leadership skills assessment tool will delve into the qualities and traits listed above to provide an incredibly valuable employee spotlight and forecast. Make sure you choose an assessment that will help you identify employees who demonstrate true leadership potential. Invest your resources wisely by utilizing an in-depth leadership skills assessment tool. You won’t regret it.

You may also be interested in these employee development posts:

To learn more about the benefits of employee development, contact Edge Training at 800-305-2025.

Topics: Employee Development, leadership development, Employee management, Millennial Development

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