Do you know about this leadership hack?

what assessments can do for our leadership

I’m currently sitting at the back of the room during my weekend launch with my executive MBA class. In case you didn’t know, I teach Leadership Intelligence to the executive MBA cohort at Sonoma State University. (You might be wondering why I’m typing at the back of the room if I’m teaching – someone else is leading a 3-hour section currently.)

It’s a dynamic group of students who bring a wealth of their own experiences and perspectives into the room. And during their launch weekend, they do not just 1 or 2, but 3 different assessments to learn about themselves, and themselves in relation to their classmates.

It made me realize it might be interesting for you to know the top 5 reasons why I love assessments in developing leadership intelligence.

Dr. Jo’s Top 5 Reasons For Using Assessments In Your Leadership Development:

  1. Using Assessments In Your Leadership Development:Develop Perspective: Honestly, this is without a doubt, my top motivation for introducing assessments into leadership development. It’s so easy to go through the world convinced that many of the people we interact with, especially in our company, function, or team, see the world similarly to how we do. After all, we’ve often studied similar subjects and sometimes even had similar growth trajectories. Assessments are the fastest-path I’ve found to show clients that as thoughtful as they are, they often lack the time and practice imagining how completely different others might view the same interaction.
  2. Encourage Self-Awareness: Without fail, when debriefing an assessment with a client, they often see a strength (or growth opportunity) for themselves that they had never noticed before. Sometimes an assessment can call-out a phenomenon that might have been at the fringe of a client’s consciousness but had remained fuzzy and unnamed until reading the report. It’s hard to develop your leadership until you have an accurate picture of how to map your current state. Assessments help you refine your view of you, so that you can focus on developing the levers that will matter most.
  3. You See Your Team in A New Light: As helpful as the additional self-knowledge is, my clients also immediately start piecing together new understandings about their teammates. The truth is that as soon as you can draw a border around something that feels like “you,” you can just as easily see what’s “not you.” For many people, that allows them to understand their colleagues in a deeper way than they had previously. It can also be the start to an open conversation with colleagues about how you are both different and how you could work better together.
  4. Using Assessments In Your Leadership Development:Build Trust: It can feel very vulnerable to share too much about yourself with colleagues, to ask for what you really need in terms of communication, and to tell others what’s most annoying to you about theirs. Enter, the beauty of assessments! When you and your colleagues can share the language of an assessment, it can take very personal elements and transform them into the judgement-free zone of the assessment where “I’m like A, so I appreciate X” while “you’re like B, so I can see how you might appreciate more Z.”
  5. They’re fun! Ok, I get that this isn’t universally applicable, but the truth is that most of my clients have fun getting their reports and learning more about themselves. I myself have taken 20-30 different assessments, and I would gladly take a new one if you wanted to offer it to me. What’s amazing to me is that with all the self-reflection I’ve done and the self-knowledge I’ve accumulated, I still think it’s fun to learn both new things about myself AND new ways of assessing and understanding my world. (P.S. Let me know if you want to share your fave assessment with me!)

Now I have a curious question for you. Will you please comment below and let me know: is there an assessment you’ve taken that you’ve really liked? Why? What did you learn about yourself? Conversely, is there an assessment you’ve ever taken that didn’t resonate at all with you? Why not?

I look forward to hearing all your responses and I appreciate you sharing your learning with me!

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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