Leadership assessment has a long and successful history and is routinely used by many of the most successful organisations. But what are the reasons for this longevity? Given the options available why do businesses continue to use assessment methods, and what exactly is it that adds to their successes? Some of the answers are pretty well known – the old arguments about bringing a scientific process to a very unscientific, human situation, the benefits of objective data and the added bonus of independent professionals to interpret/advise on the outcomes.
All of these are no doubt true. However, there are also an additional range of benefits that resonate with our clients, many of whom use the tools at the most senior levels. For some clients, this is a recurring requirement, and they deploy Leadership Assessment for both internal and external selection, succession planning and development.
- The quality of the advice and experience goes beyond the technical skills in deploying assessments, using both interview and Psychometric test methods. Our clients take technical expertise as a given. What they want from us is our skills in understanding how their talent decisions will affect their business ones – and vice versa. It is both our experience and our judgment which enable us to advise, based on the techniques we use, in a way that adds demonstrable value.
- Bringing an external view and benchmarking. Running implicitly throughout the advice and quality of judgements we bring, is our position as both external advisors, and as experts in our field. The breadth and depth of our understanding has been achieved through assessing widely and deeply across levels, functions and sectors. At Norman Broadbent, for example, we have been assessing leaders for over twenty years, giving us a wealth of data and experience to draw upon.
- Defining “what good looks like” and therein shedding light on the factors key in driving leadership success. In developing “Success Profiles”, we encapsulate senior leaders’ views of the skills, experience and stylistic characteristics needed by the business in its future leaders. Typically, these can take different forms and can be developed for varying levels of leaders or by function. These can take different formats and can be generated in different ways. Our approach in NB, for example is interactive and often this approach itself of developing, validating and signing-off “what good looks like” can add as much value as the output itself.
- The practical flexibility afforded by the range of assessment methods means that they can be integrated easily into in-house existing selection and development processes. There are many options for assessment focus, content, format, reporting and so on. This range means that leadership assessments are an easy “bolt on” to existing processes or transformations.
- Assessment is a relatively cost-effective way of de-risking talent decisions. The high cost of making mis-aligned selection or development decisions is well-known, both in money and in time. Relative to this, the cost (defined by time, effort and fees) of an assessment is not materially significant.
- Leadership assessment processes are readily scalable. The methods apply equally well to collective decisions and groups of leaders (defined horizontally by level or vertically by function) as they do to individual decisions. Increasingly we are seeing a demand for both individual and team assessments, where group effectiveness is examined as much as individual.
- Leadership assessment provides a sound platform for onboarding and development, which in turn is vital for employee engagement and retention. With top talent in high demand, many of our clients are seeking to boost their engagement and keep morale high, to avoid staff attrition. Engaging with employee’s personal development has been shown to be a major booster for engagement and happiness levels.
As events from 2020 to date have shown, the world of business can be one of uncertainty and upheaval, and many organisations are looking for the data-driven insights that can boost their chances of success. One of the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic was the focus on leaders – what did ‘successful’ leadership look like? Why were other models ‘unsuccessful’? For many organisations it has highlighted an urgent need to understand leaders better. The role of leadership assessment over the last 18 months (and for the foreseeable future) will continue to rise. Far from being a “flavour of the month” or fad, our data suggests, that the role of leadership assessment will continue to play a vital role alongside many business’s talent decisions.
For more information on Leadership Assessment or the work of Norman Broadbent Leadership Consulting, please contact Stephen Sloan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nick Behan at (Nick.Behan@normanbroadbent.com)