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  • Writer's pictureRob Buckingham

It's a tall mountain, but can I make the long leadership journey?

Updated: May 9, 2023

Looking back, I’m very grateful to have continually advanced my career, from individual contributor to front-line manager to mid-level manager, to leader. I was fortunate to work for a company that valued training. But as hindsight is 20/20, there’s an area I’d change to make the journey more impactful…the assessment process. It seems we spent too much effort identifying how tall the mountain is, and left little for the long journey.

As a baseline, there are many different leadership skills assessments, including:

  1. Leadership style assessment: identifying a leader's dominant leadership style, such as autocratic, democratic, or laissez-faire.

  2. Emotional intelligence assessment: measures a leader's ability to recognize and manage their own emotions and the emotions of others.

  3. Personality assessment: identifying a leader's personality traits and how they may impact their leadership abilities.

  4. Decision-making style assessment: identifying a leader's preferred decision-making style, such as analytical or intuitive.

  5. Leadership potential assessment: identifying individuals with the potential to become effective leaders in the future.

  6. Cultural intelligence assessment: measures a leader's ability to adapt to different cultural backgrounds and environments.

  7. Resilience assessment: identifying a leader's ability to handle stress and bounce back from adversity.

Indeed (the job site) does a great job by outlining 18 Different Types of Leadership Assessments.

On my personal leadership journey, I can recall completing 2 Meyer’s Briggs, 1 DISC, 2 Strengthsfinder, and at least 3, 360° survey assessments. I also received annual performance reviews that included at least 2 “areas for development” based on my manager’s observations. However, the latter was often treated as a “nod” as there were years that I had up to 4 bosses, or I knew I’d have a new manager the next year with a different opinion.

Key observation – in over 35,000 days of work, I received roughly 35 measured pieces of feedback, roughly 1 piece of feedback every 6 months; none of the feedback connected. Why isn't there a way to get weekly feedback without taxing your peers or yourself?

This disjointed approach, from assessment types, feedback mechanisms, and various managers, feels like the experience you get when you have a medical condition that requires multiple care experts who don’t talk to each other. Since the system is broken, you have to own your development.

qChange learning: Assessments have value in understanding where you are…your starting line. But there needs to be more focus on the journey, the climb, the race, the cure. Continuous 360° feedback, connected to a behavioral area and measured over time, will show progress and needed course corrections. To throw in one more metaphor, it’s like putting up some trail markers to chart your path (OK, that was a simile.)

Next up: Do nudges work?

qChange Innovation Stories shares the learnings of building a next-generation experiential learning company in a sea of entrenched capabilities and status quo thinking.

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