Leadership Skills Assessment

There are many tests that can assess leadership skills or a style.  It's possible to spend hours filling out questionnaires that will determine both strengths and weaknesses.  The leadership skills assessment outlined in this article provides a fast and simple way to provide a directional indication that's nearly as insightful.

The following assessment is broken down into two sections.  In the first section, we'll help uncover what makes someone's personality so special, using examples from the Myers Briggs Type Indicator®.  The second section will help users to understand their leadership style, especially at work.  In that second assessment, the attributes associated with each of Daniel Goleman's leadership styles will be identified.

This leadership skills assessment is meant to whet the user's appetite for more robust tests.  There are certainly more detailed assessments available, usually for a fee.  The information below can also serve as a quick introduction to these types of skills assessments.

Personality Style Assessment

The first assessment is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® or MBTI.  Coworkers may have discussed their "type" using four letter abbreviations such as ISTJ.  These four quadrants are often used to describe the leadership, learning, and styles exhibited at work.  There are a total of eight preferences along these four quadrants, meaning there are sixteen possible types.

In this part of the assessment, users should pick the description that best fits their style from each of the following four pairs.

Extroversion / Introversion

The first two letters of the type describe whether or not someone is introverted (I) or extroverted (E).  This dimension describes how someone gains energy.

  • Introversion (I):  these people keep their energy inside themselves.  They often pause and think carefully before responding, and may enjoy communicating through voicemail and email rather than face-to-face.
  • Extroversion (E):  An extrovert often communicates with energy and emotion.  They like to communicate with others, even large groups.  They'd much rather visit someone so they can talk face-to-face than call or use email.

Sensing / Intuition

The next dimension describes how someone perceives things around them: through sensing or intuition.

  • Sensing (S):  These individuals like to be presented with facts.  They like realistic and practical information.  They rely on information they can touch or feel, and often follow a precise pattern when they communicate.
  • Intuition (N):  Intuitive people like broad ideas that consider the future and possibilities.  They like to use insights as information, and prefer general concepts. Logic is a secondary consideration.

Thinking / Feeling

This third dimension has to do with how someone makes decisions: via thinking or feeling.

  • Thinking (T):  These people like to list the pros and cons of each approach.  They prefer to think about things objectively, and use emotions as a secondary consideration.
  • Feeling (F):  A feeling person seeks out the involvement of others when making decisions.  They prefer to be personable, and reach agreement, before making a decision.  They are concerned with the decision's impact on values and people.

Judging / Perceiving

The final dimension in this skills assessment has to do with the lifestyle someone adopts.

  • Judging (J):  These people like schedules and timelines, not surprises.  They expect others to follow through on promises and commitments.  Judging people like to hear about results and achievements.
  • Perceiving (P):  People that are perceiving don't like to commit to deadlines.  They like to hear about opportunities or options and enjoy flexibility.  Perceiving people enjoy surprises and easily adapt to last minute changes.

To get a gauge on the MBTI that might apply, users should have picked one description from each pair.  For example, if someone was Introverted (I), Sensing (S), Thinking (T), and Judging (J), then their MBTI type would be described as ISTJ.

It's possible for people to see themselves in both sides of each pairing.  That is one example of how more detailed leadership skills assessments can help.  That being said, most things are not black and white in this world but shades of grey, and the same can be said of MBTI.

Leadership Style Assessment

This second skills assessment has to do with someone's predominant leadership style.  There are a total of six styles described by Daniel Goleman.  Keep in mind that most leaders will flex their style to a given situation; this is appropriately termed conditional leadership.  However, most people do have a predominant style that they often fall back into; usually in times of stress.

  • Coercive Leaders:  often demand immediate compliance with their orders.  This type of leader has an extreme drive to achieve.  They also exhibit a great deal of self control, and often take the initiative when they spot a problem.  Over the long haul, coercive leaders can have a negative impact on the workplace.
  • Authoritative Leaders:  often try to mobilize workers towards a vision.  They allow workers to see how they fit into the big picture.  They are seen as experts in their area, and demonstrate a lot of self confidence.  Authoritative leaders also demonstrate a lot of empathy.
  • Affiliative Leaders:  create harmony and build relationships in the workplace.  They believe that people come first, and like to communicate with others.
  • Democratic Leaders:  makes sure everyone is involved in the decision-making process.  They enjoy coming to consensus through the active participation of others.
  • Pacesetting Leaders:  set high standards of performance for themselves and others around them.  They have a great deal of drive to achieve targets, and expect the same type of drive from others.  Unless workers are just as driven as the leader, this style can also have a detrimental affect on followers over the long term.
  • Coaching Leaders:  enjoy developing people that may one day be the leaders of the company.  They have a great deal of self awareness, and enjoy helping others improve their skills.

Skills Assessment

While the above might seem like a simple exercise, it covers two of the most important aspects of leaders at work: how they operate, and how they interact with others.

It's not easy to understand others, but as leaders it's important to understand what motivates people.  Individuals may be asked to take a variety of leadership skills assessments throughout their careers.  Each occasion is an opportunity for someone to learn a bit more about themselves and their interactions with others.  When they do, they'll be a more effective leader in the long run.

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