In any given business, leadership roles require certain behavioural and interpersonal skills in order to achieve positive employee relations and, subsequently, positive business results. If you are applying for such a role in an organization, the first step of the hiring process is highly likely to involve the Leadership Assessment Test.

The success of an organization is often contingent upon quality of leadership. As it is very common to misattribute extraversion as the prime leadership trait, it can be difficult to objectively assess leadership skills.

The Leadership Assessment Test is formulated for the objective identification and description of a given individual’s characteristics with regards to leadership and management. These characteristics are used to form a judgment as to how well an individual meets the requirements of a given position. In recognition of the fact that no two positions carry the same requirements, the Leadership Assessment Test describes an individual’s leadership traits in reference to a specific position and its requirements. This information serves to assist the employer in selection of leaders, and subsequent placement and development in order to maximize the effectiveness of the leader in driving business and delivering positive change for the business. Additionally, the Leadership Assessment Test can be used for early identification of those with strong leadership qualities in order to inform future decisions on succession to leadership roles.

Core Competencies in Leadership

Leadership success is widely attributed to four fundamental components:

  1. Personal Competence
  2. Decision-making
  3. Interpersonal Communication/Relations
  4. Self-management

A number of skills are encompassed within these core competencies, including but not limited to:

  • Recognition of personal fault
  • Effective problem solving
  • Assumption of responsibility
  • Motivation to lead
  • Creativity and generation of changes
  • Honesty and integrity

These qualities lend themselves to the achievement of a fluid and holistic approach in guiding employees. The effective leader is a catalyst for business success through the implementation of profitable changes in direction, procedure, and products. To this end, a leader of high calibre is expected to exhibit outstanding flexibility, an effective approach to planning in accordance with deadlines and given goals/priorities, and the ability to fully utilize the input of employees..

What can I expect in the Leadership Assessment Test?

The Leadership Assessment Test varies in length depending on the organisation administering it; many companies use their own version to assess candidates for results which are focused on the requirements of that particular business.

The test consists of a number of statements in a self-report questionnaire format, to which one provides a response ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. Responses to these statements are used to isolate certain character traits, which usually include Assertiveness, Resourcefulness, Transformational Leadership, Organisation and Responsibility.

Once the test is complete, a report will be generated for review by those who administered the test. The executive summary of the report identifies one’s Dominant Leadership Style and Key Motivators, while giving a breakdown of Strengths and Areas of Development for the given candidate.

These factors, for which a full breakdown is given after the executive summary, are used to provide a simple ‘recommended’, ‘cautiously recommended’ or ‘not recommended’ evaluation. Generally speaking, employers will prioritize candidates who are ‘recommended’, followed by those who are ‘cautiously recommended’.

A cautious recommendation can occur for a variety of reasons. A common cause for this is the response style exhibited by the candidate. When completing the test, a number of ‘red flags’ can come up as a result of the nature of a candidates responses.

There are five response styles identified within this test:

  • Genuine: No concerns identified based on response style of candidate
  • Social Desirability: More than 75% of questions are answered in a manner which appears to constitute an attempt to appear in a deceptively positive light or seem ‘socially desirable’
  • Extreme Responding: More than 75% of questions are answered in a manner which tends towards the individual agreeing with the statements at the higher and lower end consistently
  • Central Tendency: More than 30% of responses are in the middle (‘neutral’)
  • Careless Responding: More than 95% of responses are selected from the same direction (i.e. the candidate selected responses from the right side alone)

The given response styles indicate that one should take care to try and answer as truthfully as reasonably possible on the Leadership Assessment Test; the metrics used in order to identify unreliable responses go some way towards ensuring that the test remains as objective as a self-report questionnaire can be. As the test is based on one’s own view of behaviour, honesty and self-awareness are key factors in producing a reliable result. While it may be tempting to exaggerate positive traits for the purpose of a leadership position, one should take care not to over-represent one’s views when taking the Leadership Assessment Test.

Last thoughts:

The Leadership Assessment Test is widely utilised by companies seeking to identify candidates with the ideal traits for a specific leadership position, as well as to identify future potential in employees. While a wide variety of companies use their own form of the test, they tend to be variations of the same theme. If you are required to take the Leadership Assessment Test, it is recommended that you take the time to familiarize yourself with the contents of the test and ensure that you don’t go too far in your efforts to give a good impression, lest your responses be flagged as exhibiting one of the four undesirable response styles.