Four Leadership Assessment Tools

There are a number of leadership assessment tools that can help you decide if you have what it takes to be a leader, or to spot your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. In this way you can make the most of your opportunities and really start to shine. You can find many of these types of tools however the four that follow are certainly worth taking a look at:

1. Myers Briggs Tests

More and more human resources departments require candidates to take the Myers Briggs personality test in an attempt to determine what kind of worker they will be. There are 16 different personality types, with the classifications based on four main factors:

1 – Are you outwardly or inwardly focused?
* Extrovert (E)
* Introvert (I)

2 – How do you take in information
* Sensing (S)
* Intuition (N)

3 – How do you make decisions
* Thinking (T)
* Feeling (F)

4 – How do you live your outer life?
* Judging (J)
* Perceiving (P)

These four factors can be combined into 16 personality types, such as:
ENTJ, the commander
ESTJ, the executive
ESTP, the entrepreneur
INFP, the mediator

Take the free test at MBTI and read your results. Determine how accurate the report is. You may gain some insight into your leadership style and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a leader.

2. Kellogg School of Management Tools

The Kellogg School of Management, part of Northwestern University, has a very useful page of tools: the Leadership Assessment Tool Inventory, which offers a range of exercises you can take to learn more about your leadership style. Modules include:

* Gaining Power and Influence
* Using Influence Strategies
* Effective Empowerment and Delegation
* How Creative Are You?

Take all the exercises at Kellogg and use what you learn to improve your leadership skills.

3. The Mind Tools Website

This interesting site offers a range of free tools to test your business and career-related skills. The free test at will give you a score and detailed feedback on what you should do to improve your leadership skills, plus suggestions for further reading and self-help activities.

They also offer a leadership motivation tool on Mind Tools that can help you determine how motivated you are to be a leader, both in terms of wanting the responsibility and helping others.

4. Benchmarks Assessments

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) offers a range of what they term benchmark assessments to help determine how effective a leader a person is on CCL

The four modules available are:
* Executives
* Managers
* Learning agility
* Design

You can take the tests yourself. You can also be certified as a test administrator so you could give the test to others interested in improving their skills, such as if you were working as a leadership coach or consultant. Pricing is based on the size of a group, so you and any colleagues who might aspire to leadership might all wish to take it.

There are many leadership assessment tools that can help you work towards a leadership position, or improve your skills to become a better leader. Take the time and effort to invest in yourself to become a better leader, and see what a difference it can make to your life and the lives of everyone you are leading.

Identifying Your Current Leadership Skills and Experience

One of the most important aspects of being a good leader is being able to assess your strengths and weaknesses honestly and do what you can to play to them on the one hand, and minimize them on the other.

The first thing to consider in relation to your current leadership skills and experience is whether you are in any sort of leadership role at the moment. You might not think you’re a leader because you don’t have a fancy title, but you would be surprised at how influential you might actually be in your company without even realizing it – or getting the credit for it.

For example, if you’re the person everyone comes to when they have a problem, you’ve clearly got leadership potential. If your boss or manager is always asking you to head up projects and initiatives, then you’re obviously functioning as a leader.

If you often help other staff through teaching them what you know, then you are also ready for a leadership role. It is just a case of having your role recognized and hopefully getting a title and salary increase to go with it.

If you’ve already served as a leader in the past, or are doing so now, how did it go? Did you have any issues with your own performance? Were there issues with the team? Or were there problems with both?

Being honest about what might have gone wrong and what could have been done better could make all the difference in your level of success if you get another chance to become a leader.

Or maybe you discovered that being a leader wasn’t all you had hoped it was going to be? In this case, assessing what went wrong and your own skills and abilities can help you decide whether you really want to climb the corporate ladder, or stay where you are. There’s nothing wrong with that if you do.

Remember, being a leader isn’t just about getting the best things in the company, but also the responsibility and accountability that goes with the role. The responsibilities could involve significant sacrifices in terms of time, effort, and your personal life. Therefore, it’s important to take a 360-degree look at the impact of a promotion on your family and friends if you were to adopt a leadership role.

What Defines a Leader?

I have been having a number of discussions of late on the topic of leadership which has made me reflect on some of the basics. What is it that defines a Leader today?

Being a good leader is about more than being a manager. It has nothing to do with your seniority level, your title, or being “blessed” with a leadership personality. Leadership is all about focusing on success, with each person in your company or team inspired by your example and willing to follow your lead.

Some people may appear to be born leaders, but the truth is that it can be learned. Attitude is often everything. If you think you can, you will. If you show you care about others, they will care about you and their job, or the task at hand.

These days there are all sorts of leaders, from the heads of corporations to community and church groups to online, with “thought leaders” in various niches and industries, and “trend leaders” who are seen to be worth paying attention to. No one had ever heard of Arianna Huffington until she launched her blog, and even then, it took her some time to become a thought leader to the extent that she was able to sell her company AND be offered a C-level position within it by the new owners.

As you can see, a leader possesses certain qualities which enable them to lead, such as influence and effectiveness. They may lead alone, or be part of a group, with the responsibility for making decisions on behalf of others. Leaders provide guidance and direction. It is not just about command, control and power, but effectiveness and persuasiveness as well.

Whether you think that leaders are born or made, or a bit of both, there are several characteristics that many powerful leaders tend to have in common, and which seem to be lacking in those who are less effective leaders. These characteristics include:

  • Hard-working
  • Goal-oriented
  • Visionary
  • Creative
  • Proactive, not reactive
  • Personable
  • Motivating
  • Laser focused
  • Willing and able to see the whole picture
  • Resilient
  • Confident
  • Self-aware
  • Good communication skills
  • Responsible
  • Reliable
  • Honest
  • Able to transform stress into success

I will take a look at each of these below.


  • Many top leaders have been described as tireless, always striving to achieve their goals. It is probably no coincidence that many of them do not even own a television. They work towards their own vision instead, using a variety of strategies, tactics and innovations. Many seem to need little sleep as well, and are always alert and full of ideas.


  • Are you the kind of person who likes to get things done? Do people come to you and ask you to do something for them and know you will follow through? Not everyone is goal-oriented, but those who are may end up being effective leaders.


  • Good leaders do not just look at how things are, but also how they could be. They seek to improve things, usually for the benefit of more people than just themselves. They are constantly creating based on their vision or the potential of what they are trying to create or transform. They will use a variety of strategies and tactics to make their vision a reality.


  • Good leaders tend to be very creative or even innovative people who “think outside the box” and are able to come up with a variety of ideas and solutions which no one else has thought of. They lead by example and do not follow others slavishly.

Proactive not Reactive

  • Good leaders make things happen. They are the “movers and shakers” in their area of expertise. They tend to be known in their industry as the kind of person who is always at least a few steps ahead of everyone else. Again, they do not follow others slavishly; in fact, many people want to imitate them.


  • A leader tends to be a people person – someone who derives lots of energy from being around people and working with their team or for them. Such extroverted personalities make great leaders, but introverts are not barred from leadership either. You can have a love for people and still be introverted. In this case, you just respond differently to interacting with others, and would be seen as a good listener rather than a great talker.


  • Good leaders know how to motivate, even when (or especially when) times are tough. They can often get the best out of people who might not even think themselves capable of such great achievements.

Laser Focused

  • A good leader has a clear vision and purpose and does not allow himself or herself to be distracted or diverted away from that purpose. Think of the difference between a light bulb and a laser. Both use beams of light, but the bulb scatters the beams of light in every direction. A laser uses the beams of light with such focused concentration that they can literally cut through solid substances.

Willing and Able to See the Whole Picture

  • A leader has laser-like focus to try to accomplish their goals, but the best leaders will take both a focused and a broad view that encompasses a wide variety of factors which can contribute to their success, or hold them back from it.


  • Resilience means bouncing back even when things go wrong. Good leaders aren’t daunted; they learn from what’s happened and press on.


  • A belief in himself/herself can sometimes be the only thing that sustains a leader through his/her climb to the top, and the often slippery slope he or she will have to live on once they get there. Even if a leader is not truly confident, they can often “fake it ’til they make it” and convey a sense of command and authority despite being faced with great difficulties.


  • Leaders tend to be self-aware with reference to their weaknesses and strengths, but not to the point of letting either one rule them.

Good Communication Skills

  • True leaders are able to communicate their vision and get people to participate in it. They do their best to “keep people on the same page” within their company or team, while also retaining control of privileged information.


  • Good leaders should not shy away from responsibility. If they take on a task, they should follow it through to its logical conclusion. If they make a mistake, they should admit it and not let someone else take the blame or try to cover it up.


  • Good leaders are reliable and follow through with all of the work assigned to them. They do not make excuses, but deliver what is expected of them on time.


  • Leaders in history have possessed this characteristic in varying degrees, but on the whole, they should not be corrupt, greedy or adopt a leadership role simply for their own benefit. If they give their word, they should keep it if it is at all possible.

Able to Transform Stress into Success

  • Leaders feel stress just like anyone else. It is a question of what they do with that stress. For many people, it is the fight or flight response. Either they will make a stand and work hard to deal with the situation, or they will run from it and try to pretend it doesn’t exist. A good leader will make a stand.

In the next post in this short series I will take a look at four leadership styles, and the pros and cons of each.

Learning From Your Customers

As my experience today with EE has shown, organisations can learn a lot from their customers if they are prepared to listen. One of the dangers for any organisation that uses Social Media is that if you get it wrong when you are dealing with your customers the story gets told far and wide. You lose control of the story you want to tell and then you let others create the impression that your customers and potential customers have of your organisation.

If you want to get it right then training for your social media staff is essential – including responding to the questions the customer asks and not simply ignoring them when they are clearly unhappy. But equally important is the training and support you give your support/back office staff and that’s where I am going to focus in this post.

Let me share some of the poor experience I had with EE and as the good Learning & Development Professional that I am(!) I will also share my thoughts on where there are learning points for them to improve their customer service:

Placing The Order

I did something last night that I thought would be fairly straightforward. Having been a loyal customer of EE in its’ various incarnations for many years I decided that I would upgrade and recontract with them for my mobile broadband and also my partner’s mobile ‘phone. I have two mobiles with them as well as my mobile broadband service so they earn a not unreasonable sum from me each and every month.

I decided to do the upgrades through their online chat facility as it seemed the easiest and most straightforward approach. Initially it was and the Online Chat Advisor appeared to be helpful. But that’s where it ended!

Having placed an order for both the new mobile ‘phone device and the new mobile broadband device I was advised by the Online Chat Advisor that I would receive a text message to my mobile “that gives you your 1h delivery time slot, if you want to change the delivery day or time you can respond to the text directly, (not the address though, just the day or time).”

Feeling Let Down

This morning I did receive a text message which gave me a link to the couriers website. No mention of a 1 hour delivery slot. I then clicked through to the website only to find that if I wanted a one and a half hour delivery slot I would need to pay £10!  So in order to ensure delivery when we would be available I reluctantly paid £10 and assumed that this related to both devices.

Sadly that transpired not to be the case and an hour later I received another text with the delivery information for the second device. Again I was expected to pay £10 to get a guaranteed delivery slot. So two separate parcels from EE, both being delivered by the same couriers no doubt at the same time and a charge of £10 for each. During a tortorous telephone conversation with their Customer Service Centre and having been passed through 5 different individuals I was advised that the message wasn’t correct because it assumed that I was buying during the week and then it would be right!

#LearningPoint for EE – ensure that your systems work, the information your advisors give out is correct and that your advisors are aware of differences in your operating procedures if they are different at various times of the week/day.

Feeling Like A Hot Potato

The telephone call I made this morning was painful in the extreme. As I mentioned in the comments above I was passed through 5 different individuals before I got something even vaguely resembling a resolution – although I have to say I wait to be convinced:

When I spoke to the first individual (having paid their fee to be put to the front of the queue!) I started by explaining calmly and politely that I was an unhappy customer and would like to explain why. I started to do this but he kept interrupting me mid-sentence. I asked him if he would listen to what I had to say and was met with “well when you have done!” #LearningPoint – this is basic customer service stuff – if a customer tells you they are unhappy let them talk – get their story and then summarise back to them what you understand are their issues. Never, respond to them in a way which is bound to aggravate them even further!

I eventually managed to finish advising this individual that I was unhappy, felt I had been misled, had not received any confirmation emails about my order and was being charged twice for the delivery of both parts of my order.  Their response was frankly amazing given that they are effectively a technology company. It appears that any dealing via the internet are not updated onto their systems for at least 7 days. So if you place an order online the people who answer the calls to their Contact Centres will have no information about it. Frankly if that is the case then I am staggered. However, if it is the case then there is a very clear #LearningPoint – get your systems joined up so that the people who are dealing with your customers have instant access to the information about those customers.

After this initial discussion I was then passed through 4 further individuals. Each of whom I had to repeat my complaint to because there was no handover of the call from the previous person. Indeed it felt like my call was being treated like the proverbial “hot potato” made all the more obvious by the fact that each time I was placed back in a queue to be dealt with.  #LearningPoint equip your staff with the skills to handle calls, give them access to the information they need to ensure a first time fix in the majority of cases and ensure that your staff tell the customer what is happening.

In an ideal world I wouldn’t deal with an organisation that treats their customers in the way I have been dealt with today. But it’s not an ideal world because invariably with an organisation like EE we are tied into contracts which they would make us pay for to get out of.  But these organisations need to change their attitudes because treating people badly when you think you have them tied into contracts is just storing up lost business for the future and leads to loss of new business right now from people who hear about how others have been treated.

If there is one overall #LearningPoint it would be treat your customers like you would want to be treated and ensure your systems, processes and procedures enable your staff to do that.

Simple really isn’t it! Are these Learning Points that the Leadership Team at EE are prepared to take on board and action? Only time will tell!

How To Improve Collaboration In Your Teams

In the world of work today, where more and more specialists are a part of the organisation, leaders who can effectively bring these diverse groups together to get things done are definitely at an advantage. Collaboration is the key and getting team members to work together in cooperation with each other is increasingly essential for success especially as more organisations move to a matrix approach in their management and leadership practices.

Getting a group of diverse people to work towards a common goal can be extremely rewarding to a team leader. It can also be unnerving and frustrating as well. Knowing how to collaborate effectively and to get others to collaborate to achieve can make a significant difference.

So let’s take a look at 6 tips which help you improve collaboration among your team members whether they are direct reports or are working for you from different parts of the organisation on a significant project.

  1. Clearly define the goals and the expected outcome of the project the team is working on. Each member’s responsibilities should be explicitly identified. It may seem obvious to you but you want it to be obvious to the team member as well. They shouldn’t be wondering what to do next or who is doing what. Delegate key responsibilities to your team; those that make an impact on the project outcome.
  2. If you have the opportunity then choose your team by carefully thinking about the people you want to work on this project. Assigning tasks to the right people is necessary to having an effective collaboration. When choosing members, consider each member’s skills, personality, their experience and their schedules.
  3. Are there members of your team who are afraid to voice their opinions or to argue? These members won’t be adding to any helpful and stimulating ideas and need to be encouraged to speak up. Just because they are quiet doesn’t mean they don’t have good ideas. Always include every team member in discussions.
  4. Recognize and celebrate good collaborative behavior. Mention the great work the team is doing in the company newsletter, on a podcast or annual report.
  5. Provide your collaboration team with the right and necessary tools. Do they need specific software or task management tools? These types of tools can be especially important if you team works from different locations.
  6. Once your collaboration is going, continue to mix things up. If the people on your team are collaborating more with people they know, like and trust it might be time to mix up your teams. For example invite the production guys to your design meeting. Better yet send everyone out for drinks or other social building time. This forces all your teams to come in contact and connect with the others.

I am sure that you can think of circumstances where improving collaboration among your team members is sometimes necessary. Team members need to know their role in a project and to be encouraged to collaborate with other members they don’t know in order to build trust to work together cohesively.