5 Reasons You Need An Executive Leadership Assessment

As a senior leader, you have probably taken some type of assessment during the course of your career. The results provided you with insight into your strengths and weaknesses and helped you become more self-aware. However, even at the most senior levels it is still critical to take some type of leadership assessment on a regular basis because you need to continue to improve your performance for maximum benefit regardless of how long you’ve been in your position. Here are 5 reasons you should take an executive leadership assessment.

1. THE HIGHER THE POSITION, THE LESS LIKELY YOU RECEIVE FEEDBACK

It’s easy to believe that you don’t need feedback at the most senior levels of management. You’ve made it to the top so you must know all that you need to know, right? Also, it’s harder for you as a senior leader to receive open and honest feedback even if you seek it from your peers, direct reports and other colleagues. A 360 degree assessment that is completely anonymous is an excellent way for you to receive the type of candid feedback necessary regarding your leadership, behavior, capabilities and performance from your team members who wouldn’t feel comfortable addressing these concerns with you in person.

2. LINK BUSINESS STRATEGIES WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES

Leadership assessments are an excellent way to determine if you have the essential skills to move your company in the direction needed. Your organization’s business strategies are vital to improving the bottom line and it’s critically important to link those strategies with the skills required for success today and in the future. Assessments will help you identify which competencies need further improvement so you can develop a long-term strategy that’s built to change and adapt as the business climate necessitates.

3. COMPARE YOUR SKILLS AGAINST INDUSTRY STANDARDS

Perhaps you have been in your position for several years. Are you keeping up with the ever changing business climate in your industry? It’s much too easy to become complacent with your capabilities when you’ve been in the same job for an extended period of time. By conducting a leadership assessment, you will be able to identify how your skills match up with what the industry standards are and whether they are the competencies necessary to stay ahead of the competition.

4. IDENTIFY KEY GAPS AND WORK TO RESOLVE ISSUES BEFORE THEY COST THE COMPANY MONEY

Derailing leaders cost companies millions of dollars through lost productivity decreased revenue due to poor performance. By taking an assessment on a yearly basis, you will be able to identify any key competency gaps or issues that could cause significant problems for the organization. Then you will be able to get the appropriate coaching and training needed to improve your skills and avoid a complete derailment. After all, just like in medicine, prevention is the best strategy for avoiding illness.

5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE TO IMPROVE THE COMPANY’S CULTURE

A leader who participates in assessments helps to set a positive tone for the team, department and company. This willingness to assess your leadership skills shows others at all levels what is expected and supported throughout the organization. It helps to create a culture of engagement, openness and validates the importance of continuous professional development.

When was the last time you took an assessment? Make sure you stay current on your leadership skills and help improve your company’s bottom line through regular assessment of your executive leadership performance.

Picking the Best Executive Assessment Tools

At least half of companies do no formal assessments of potential for their leaders and tend to be shooting in the dark when it comes to identifying their future talent. In another research study, it was found that 75% of high performers do not have the requisite abilities to handle the increased complexity in senior leadership roles. I4cp’s research showed that the most common executive assessment tools when there is a formal process is the 360 degree feedback assessment. Other popular tools they found included the following:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), used by 68.2%
  • DISC, used by 61.4%
  • Lominger Assessment Instruments, 47.1%
  • Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI), 43.2%
  • StrengthsFinder 2.0, 43.2%
  • Thomas Killman Conflict Management Indicator (TKI), 40.7%

In my opinion, of these assessments, only Lominger, Hogan and Killman tools meet the psychometric rigor required for assessment of potential. The other tools are less rigorous, valid, and reliable to be deployed to assess talent who may be considered for senior leader roles. These other assessments are more likely to be used for training and teambuilding activities.

We here at Corporate Performance Strategies strongly recommend that there are multiple data points when considering potential, including: education, experiences, cognitive abilities, personality attributes (what the above measure), performance results, and interview assessments. That helps ensure more accuracy of decisions for determining your bench strength.

What formal executive assessment tools does your company use? When was the last time your leaders were assessed to determine their strengths, weaknesses, or areas of concern? Isn’t it time to implement a rigorous assessment process for the current and future leaders in your organization?

3 Top Coaching Tips For Derailers: Colorful

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As part of our continuing blog series, “3 Top Coaching Tips for Derailers”, we will take a look at each of the 11 behavioral traits identified by Hogan’s research that cause leaders to derail and include examples with suggestions to overcome each derailing behavioral trait. This week, we highlight the derailing behavior: Colorful.

Some degree of Colorful behaviors are required in many senior roles. You’ll want to be able to get your points across and convince others to follow your direction. I do a lot of work in the restaurant and hospitality industry and have found that successful leaders in this industry actually score moderately high on Colorful. When you think about the positives of high scores, leaders who are entertaining, high energy, and engaging do well when meeting guests. It is not an industry that tolerates leaders who are shy and quiet, especially in crisis. However, taken to an extreme, with an over-used strength, Colorful behavior can become derailing to your career. Anyone can go too far and alienate their work group, peers, and manager with this self-serving style.

One senior leader I had been working with and coaching was a good illustration of how Colorful behaviors can alienate followers. He was a very strong leader who made great first impressions and was an excellent company representative with customers and prospects. He was perceived as very entertaining to many, while others would not give him much respect with what they perceived as very attention-seeking behavior. In meetings, he would not listen to others’ inputs and didn’t seem to focus on the important issues. It was all about him; at least that’s what his behaviors indicated.

When he received the 360 degree survey feedback about his style and the negative impact it was having on others, he was quite dismayed and defensive. He had never received feedback like this in his whole working career. Over time, he began to “tone it down” and build a broader followership, but it has been difficult for him to fully accept the fact his style was no longer effective. While still a work in process, he is continuing to make progress with building a much stronger followership in the company.

COACHING TIPS FOR COLORFUL DERAILER

The leader should continue: Entertaining clients and customers with energy and enthusiasm

The leader should stop: Interrupting others while they work and talking past their alotted time

The leader should begin:

  • Listening rather than talking
  • Asking others if you have understood them correctly
  • Finding opportunities to develop your direct reports

Leaders can be assessed using the Hogan suite of assessments which are very helpful to leaders by increasing their self awareness and gaining a better understanding of why they are not getting the results required in their role.

How Do I Get Promoted? – Case Study on Strategic Agility

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John was a newly hired plant manager operating one of the most successful facilities in the North American Region for a global supplier of industrial products. While the plant was very profitable, its products were becoming commoditized and foreign competition was making inroads eroding market share in several core products. John needed to establish clear direction for the operation, gain alignment among his leadership team for the new direction, develop long terms goals, and the tactics necessary to ensure survival and viability of his operation.

He set out to develop this through a series of meetings that I facilitated as his executive coach. We completed the first step to develop a good representation of the current state using a SWOT analysis of the operation. Critical input into the SWOT were internal team members, internal customers (i.e., sales, marketing, purchasing, etc.), and key customers. Following is a sample of the SWOT for John’s operation:

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After the SWOT analysis was completed John and his leadership team developed their Vision and Mission statements and long-term goals. To illustrate John’s strategic agility he developed the following:

  • Vision:  To be the preferred solutions provider and partner to customers operating a world-class, data-driven, and employer of choice facility.
  • Mission:  We provide value-added quality solutions for our customers through technically advanced cost-effective industrial products.

Long-term three year goals were established that were both difficult and achievable.

  • $200,000 Revenues
  • 13% EBITDA
  • Zero recordable injuries
  • Highly engaged employees

The next step for John and the leadership team was to identify the key gaps to their future state, prioritize these gaps, and develop action plans and accountability for each strategic initiative and tactics. A sample of some of these initiatives follow:

  • Build a high performing leadership team
  • Improved new product development process and reduce time to market
  • Build stronger customer relationships

Each of the strategic initiatives had an “owner” responsible for leading the actions to successful completion and reporting on the progress of the plan.

As you know, developing the strategy is only one element of strategic agility. It’s not much use if the leader isn’t able to communicate effectively and in ways that motivate and energize all key stakeholders to assist in implementing the strategy. And that has become John’s key role within his plant and the corporation.

As you can see, John was able to develop and demonstrate strategic agility in a tactically focused role in middle-management. Please use this as a template for your department, unit, or company.

Development Planfor Top Leaders

How Do I Get Promoted? – Self-Assessment Exercise

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I have talked recently about the need to complete an assessment of your leadership skills in order to identify those strengths to leverage and areas for improvement. If your company does not offer any leadership assessment tools or you are unable to retain a leadership coach, take this self-assessment to help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement.

Instructions:  For each of the items in the list, rate your own performance using the following scale. As you are rating yourself on each bullet point, you’ll want to benchmark yourself against the senior leaders in your organization (i.e., the level you aspire to reach), not your current level! Then, list all the items in which you have a 0, 1, or 2 score and prioritize these areas for your development plans. List all the items you scored 4+ as potential strengths to leverage and build your career.

SCALE

Not Applicable – Not able to demonstrate in current role. RATING 0

Unsatisfactory – Not effective in the competency areas defined or not effectively using competencies for job performance. RATING 1

Needs Improvement – Requires some improvement. Demonstrates the competency areas or effectively uses competencies for job performance some of the time. RATING 2

Meets Expectations – Possesses needed competencies and is relatively effective in using competencies to achieve job performance. RATING 3

Exceeds Expectations – Demonstrates above average skills and behaviors and is considered “particularly talented” in the competency areas needed for position and uses them effectively to get results above expectations. RATING 4

Outstanding – Considered extremely competent and an example or “role model” of the competency areas for the position and uses them to get outstanding results. RATING 5

Shaping Strategy

  • Articulates a compelling vision for the future, conveying a clear picture of the organization’s purpose and mission.
  • Develops effective strategies and initiatives consistent with business requirements and core competencies of the organization.
  • Anticipates problems and issues and develops contingency plans.

Business Acumen

  • Applies knowledge and understanding of the organization and political climate to make decisions and take actions that satisfy diverse interests and contribute effectively to organizational goals.
  • Demonstrates understanding of the vision, mission, functions, resources, values, culture, and business strategies of the organization.
  • Able to effectively thwart competitive and external threats.

Displaying Seasoned Judgment

  • Displays balanced thinking that combines analysis, wisdom, experience and perspective to address complex/critical issues.
  • Takes calculated risks to help the organization advance toward strategic goals.
  • Makes tough, pragmatic decisions when required and creatively integrates different ideas and perspectives.

Building Effective Relationships

  • Anticipates and seeks to resolve confrontations, disagreements, and complaints in a constructive manner.
  • Displays appreciation of the value of diversity (e.g., style, thinking, cultural, ethnic, gender, and other differences).
  • Develops and nurtures partnerships with different internal and external stakeholders and constituencies.

Communicating with Others

  • Adapts communication to diverse audiences.
  • Builds confidence and inspires support through a convincing presentation style.
  • Makes a personal connection with the audience when communicating.

Collaborating with Others

  • Recognizes and encourages the behaviors that contribute to teamwork (i.e., breaks down silos, shares information and expertise, promotes working together, puts team success first).
  • Separates own interests from the organization’s interests to make the best possible judgments for the organization.
  • Shares goals and priorities with stakeholders in the organization to increase alignment, cooperation, and opportunities to collaborate.

Developing Talent

  • Attracts, selects, and coaches the highest-caliber talent to develop and achieves high employee potential and performance.
  • Ensures all employees are given regular, timely performance feedback, actively monitors progress and performance, and confronts problem performers early.
  • Accurately appraises the talent pools for positions.

Leading Effective Teams

  • Solicits the input of others who are affected by plans or actions and gives credit and recognition to others that have contributed.
  • Clearly outlines roles and responsibilities and deals with conflicts and overlaps.
  • Critiques the team’s performance and implements actions to build effectiveness.

Driving Execution

  • Holds self and others accountable for achieving aggressive business goals.
  • Establishes an effective management process for organizational goals that disseminates, measures and tracks progress, and makes adjustments throughout the year.
  • Sets clear and meaningful expectations and adjusts priorities as circumstances change.

Building Organizational Performance

  • Aligns the organization resources with strategic priorities.
  • Gets things done effectively through formal channels and informal networks.
  • Effectively brings cross-functional units together to achieve strategic plans.

Leading Change

  • Communicates compelling need for change within one’s department, group, and organization that generates commitment to the change process.
  • Identifies and enlists the support of key individuals and groups to move the change forward.
  • Serves as a personal model of the change that one expects of others.

Motivating & Inspiring

  • Continuously delegates responsibility and authority, providing encouragement and support to others in accepting responsibility.
  • Promotes risk-taking and explores reasons for mistakes and encourages learning from them.
  • Creates and sustains an organizational culture encouraging others to perform higher than expected.

Inspiring Trust

  • Does not misrepresent self or use position for personal gain.
  • Creates a culture that fosters high standards of ethics and role models the organization’s values.
  • Delivers on commitments.

Self Development

  • Keeps up-to-date on current trends and technology and identifies and pursues areas for development and training that enhance job performance.
  • Takes responsibility for own development.
  • Regularly solicits feedback from others and acts on suggestions.

Adaptability

  • Works effectively in ambiguity, under stress and pressure, and with high work demands.
  • Remains focused on results through times of change.
  • Adapts to new demands and challenges quickly and easily.

For additional help, contact us for a complimentary consultation to discuss your self-assessment results. We are here for you every step of the way of your leadership journey.

How Do I Get Promoted? – Use Leadership Assessments To Evaluate Your Skills

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In my previous blog post regarding the Leadership Development Process, I said that the first step is assessing your skills. There are several other sources of input that can help you with an objective evaluation of your leadership skills and reputation. Unlike 360 degree surveys, these assessments rely on your own self-reporting as you answer the questions and the research used to develop the assessment makes a prediction on how you are most likely to lead and be perceived by others.

It is important to use assessments that have a solid foundation of research and validity to get the best information for your development. These are typically accessed through your internal HR department or an external executive coach.

For example, the following are among the most widely used by the Fortune 1000 organizations:

  • Hogan Assessment Systems – Leadership Potential and Leadership Challenge Assessments
  • Corporate Executive Board’s SHL Division
  • Pearson Assessments – Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal

Do not use an online assessment offered to the general public since you may end up focusing on the wrong areas for executive leadership success. If your HR department does not offer one of these assessments, choose an accredited executive coach to administer it and interpret the results for you. Once you have assessed your leadership skills, the executive coach will be able to assist you with the rest of the development process and help you on the road to achieving career success.

Leadership skills development

How Do I Get Promoted? – Identify Your Leadership Brand & Reputation

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In my previous blog, I discussed why “no news isn’t always good news” when it comes to understanding why you aren’t receiving the feedback you need to identify those leadership skills you need to develop in order to get promoted. To help you get started identifying your leadership brand and determining your reputation at work, try the following exercise when you are meeting with your team and can reserve 45 minutes on the agenda use this technique.

1. Let the team know you are working on your leadership improvements and need their help and assistance. That you want to get their direct and candid feedback about your current leadership effectiveness.

2. Tell the team you are leaving the meeting for 20-30 minutes and that you’d like them to record on a flipchart what you should STOP, START, and CONTINUE doing as a leader. What suggestions do they have for improvement. Mention that their specific comments are anonymous.

3. After the team completes their discussion re-join the meeting and seek clarification on the specific items. Don’t try to uncover who said what unless a team member volunteers. You lose credibility and trust by trying to find out which team member made each entry. In addition, the technique is useless in the future with this line of inquiry. Most of all be open and receptive and thank the team members for their input no matter what you receive.

4. It is important to use the feedback provided so make the changes you feel will have the biggest positive impact on your leadership effectiveness.

5. Repeat these steps quarterly.

The fact that perception equals reality, at least in the minds of your stakeholders and decision makers for your career success, is a truism. That is why it is critical to your success to learn what the perception is from others and how they view your reputation. Generally, we are lousy judges of our own performance, contribution and value to an organization. 360 degree surveys are very popular today for leadership development because this survey allows you to get anonymous evaluations of your competencies from your direct reports, peers and manager.

Advance Your Careerto the Next LevelComplimentary eBook

Are 360 Assessment Tests the Best Choice?

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Recently, I posed the following question in HR and leader LinkedIn groups: Are 360 assessments the best way for an employee to provide candid feedback regarding their leader/manager? The question generated a great deal of thoughtful discussion. Consultants and HR leaders shared their Subject Matter Expertise about how best to implement. In addition, my years of experience developing, implementing and sharing 360 degree assessments coupled with the input and themes from the discussions resulted in several good points to remember when using 360 degree assessments:

    • 360s are a powerful tool for development but if misused can do more harm than good
    • Raters must feel anonymous to provide direct and candid feedback
    • A trained professional should debrief the leader to ensure the most value is provided and the leader really accepts the messages
    • 360s are not a substitute for day-to-day communications
    • Use exit interviews to supplement the 360 data about managers: several caveats were added about the quality of the data, but it’s still a good source to consider

360 assessments are now commonplace in medium and large-sized companies. They have established their firm foothold as an effective leadership development tool to supplement leadership and professional development programs, including executive coaching. The good news is that there is a wealth of great information to users on how to effectively use the tools.