Pre-employment testing and assessment is most often thought about for hourly- and supervisor positions. Because these positions have the largest number of employees, it can sometimes cause organizations to think they either can’t or shouldn’t use assessments for their leadership positions. This is not good reasoning.

To address this misunderstanding, there are assessments and tests designed for leadership and executive level roles for selection and development. Recent data confirms leadership-level hiring is considerably more important because those individuals influence the culture making strategic business decisions that can determine the company’s long-term success. From a leadership assessment perspective, an organization looking for valid and predictive practices to select and develop its leadership shouldn’t be asking whether they should use an assessment, but rather which assessment should be used.

Before we examine the different means for assessing leadership competencies, let’s look at why assessments are so beneficial in executive and leader positions.

Most organizations focal point is on their lower-level positions and have routine processes for their application and selection processes. However, hiring teams accountable for onboarding a new leader will place their value on experience, degree(s), and education and their gut feeling about an individual. Using these criteria have been identified to be exceedingly poor predictors of leadership performance. Experience, education, and gut feeling all having very low validity in predicting a candidate’s success in a leadership role. This is a major reason leaders often fail at a very high rate. This is a counterintuitive occurrence. Top leadership positions should have the most rigorous, most predictive, and valid processes in place for hiring, not the least.

The executive impact that a key person in a leadership role is much greater than someone in an entry-level job, so why is it that most entry-level hiring practices are more objective and valid than leadership hiring practices?

  • One possible reason is that HR normally manages entry- and mid-level hiring, while leadership and management hiring is done by leaders and other executives, with processing processing help from HR. In these situations, because the present leadership is not trained on what to look for, and how to identify what they are looking for, their instinct is to look at other things like education and gut feelings.
  • One more reason could be the organization totally rejects the value of using leadership assessments, or maybe they don’t want to insult or frustrate their candidates by having them complete a long assessment. The organization would rather rely on their own judgment and wing it. Research has shown this is the single unequaled way to get poor performers hired into the organization.

What Should Be Measured?

Completing a job analysis to determine the applicable competencies is a reliable practice to identify what should be measured in the hiring process. Nonetheless, there are a few central characteristics you should be sure to measure:

  1.  Leadership potential
  2.  Driving for results (driving results)
  3.  Intelligence and collaboration
  4.  Learning ability and strategic thinking
  5.  Adaptability and leading change

Positioning a specific assessment process in place will pay dividends. It will allow you to hire top performing leaders, reduce turnover, turnover costs and positively impact your corporate values and ultimately, your bottom line.

Maximum Potential