How to Get Intentional About Leadership Assessment

Jessica Thiefels

06 January 2020

Only 42 percent of leaders say the overall quality of their organization’s leadership is high, according to the Global Leadership Forecast 2018. Whether your leaders fall within that 42 percent or not, this data is a good indication that it’s time to assess whether changes need to be made to your leadership.

We’re all busy. But as leaders, we must be intentional about the assessment process. If you’re ready to change your leadership and company for the better, consider the following.

Start With an Ideal Leadership Profile

Your leadership assessment starts by figuring out what you’re looking for in a great leader so you can measure their effectiveness and success, both qualitatively and quantitatively. One Point Consulting calls this a “success profile” and to develop it, they explain:

“What does ‘good’ or ‘great’ look like for a given leadership role in the organization? When developing a success profile, information is gathered from stakeholders and employees to create a comprehensive profile of the skills and behaviors that enable future success for a given role.”

This leadership profile makes it easier to analyze the results of your assessment so you can better understand where some leaders need to make changes and where others are already excelling, along with what you expect from incoming leaders. 

When creating your leadership profile, consider the needs and skills of a modern leader. According to the same Global Leadership Forecast, those skills include: 


- Driving digital literacy and leading with digitization

- Navigating the complex digital landscape successfully, showing skills such as adaptability, determination and alignment

- Connecting people and possibilities, driving hypercollaboration and integration, in addition to having the ability to lead virtual teams

- Balancing people and technology while being able to identify future talent

- Thinking differently and displaying intellectual curiosity


Don’t Forget About Potential

When assessing leaders, it’s important to consider both their current performance and their potential to grow as well. “Sure, performance is a measure of ability and expertise, and necessary to identify a leader, but you need to look beyond performance to understand an employee's desire and aptitude to grow, develop others, cast a vision, communicate superbly, build a team and influence all levels of the organization,” says Marcel Schwantes, founder and chief human officer of Leadership From the Core.

Build a future-facing assessment process that identifies the following signs of potential in those you lead, as suggested by Spark Hire:

- Energy levels. Spark Hire says, “If they come in each day revived and ready to work, this positivity spreads to the rest of the office.”

- How they respond when they don’t have an answer

- How they adapt to a changing environment 

- Driving factors in their work. “True leaders don’t just accept the role for the perks and the job title; they’re mission-driven and see a greater purpose beyond just a salary boost, extra vacation days and a company car,” explains Spark Hire.

- Relationships with direct reports

- Ability to both assess and leverage employees’ strengths

- Ability to assess risk proactively and effectively

- Transparency as appropriate

- Ability to delegate to employees 

- Productive and business-aligned creativity. Spark Hire says, “They have a clear-cut idea about what that business should stand for and each plan they put into place reflects this greater vision.”


Consider Mindfulness

A mindful leader is defined as, “Someone who embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity and compassion in the service of others,” according to the Institute of Mindful Leadership

Being intentional about leadership assessment means looking at every way in which leaders interact with their team members, including whether they’re bringing a mindful approach to their leadership. As Tay & Val, success strategists and co-founders of M Meditation, explain, a mindful leader is one who:


- Makes thoughtful decisions in the highest service of the organization versus knee-jerk reactions. This requires the ability to have a certain level of emotional resilience.

- Has an ability to see another’s perspective with compassion

- Asks great questions. This is based on their listening skills. Sometimes leaders jump in to provide answers and solutions before their team members have even finished speaking. It’s human to want to problem-solve. But more often than not, people will come up with effective solutions themselves when they get to finish what they are saying.


Consider where you see these mindful characteristics coming through in your assessments to ensure leaders are bringing every important piece of leadership to the table.

Be Intentional About Leadership Development

Don’t just be intentional about leadership assessment. Be intentional about development as well. In conjunction with assessing current leaders, you can also be actively assessing future leaders. This is something Ryan LLC, a corporate tax firm, says they prioritize. In an article by Fortune, Tony Bridwell, chief people officer of Ryan, explains: 

“We tend to grow a lot of our own leaders internally, and so we take great pride in bringing them in, developing them very rigorously, and then growing them up into the organization. That’s part of how we retain people, because we’re constantly developing. One of the trends that we’ve seen in the marketplace is that one of the top three reasons why people leave organizations is because they don’t believe they’re being developed, that there’s no advancement, and there’s no development where they are. And we can proudly say that is something that we do here very deliberately.”

If you want to keep good leaders in house, you have to look at the entire leadership landscape, including current and future leaders. This bodes well for both employees who want to be developed and for the organization as a whole. 

According to the Center for Creative Leadership, 65 percent of companies with mature succession management programs were effective at driving improved business results through leadership skills. That’s compared to just 6 percent of companies who have no succession process in place.

Get Intentional About Leadership Assessment

Don’t push leadership assessment to the back-burner and then only give it half the attention it deserves. Instead, be intentional by developing success profiles, looking at potential, honing in on mindfulness and focusing on the development of new leaders. When done right, your leadership assessment will yield results that help you improve the organization now and in the future.

Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Fast Company and Entrepreneur. She also writes for Business Insider, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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