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    Nov 07, 2018    |   Psychometrics Canada

The Need for Assessments and More in Leadership Development

2 minute read

Written by Shawn Bakker, Psychologist


Leadership development efforts often fail because they do not address the multi-faceted and contextual nature of leadership – they fail because they approach leadership development as a linear process, one where training modules are implemented using a paint-by-numbers approach, hoping that the final result is a “developed” leader. Organizations have fallen into this trap when they are doing the following:

  • Seeing leadership development as a product – that if they can just purchase the right tool or utilize the latest leadership model they will be successful.
  • Establishing a development program that is highly directive – the areas of focus are driven by the organization or the model they have chosen to implement
  • Rushing to implement a program that is not aligned with the strategic goals of the organization and the leader.

Effective leadership development examines the connections between the individual leader and the organization they work for, and the responsibilities of both. Byron Hanson has developed a leadership development interface that provides a valuable systems approach to building a program that is beneficial to both the individual leader and the organization.

This interface presents a “whole system” approach to helping leaders and organizations plan, engage in and evaluate their developmental efforts. I have simplified his description for this post, but it boils down to ensuring alignment between four things: 4-[illars-whole-system-approach

  1. Self-Reflection and Discovery – A leader needs to consider their fundamental values and beliefs, personality and character, and leadership vision and goals.
  2. Learning & Development – A developing leader requires learning opportunities to understand and acquire the skills and behaviours that are necessary for effective leadership.
  3. Practice – Leaders need the organization to provide opportunities and resources that allow them to exercise their emerging leadership skills, and stretch their behavioural repertoire in ways that are real and have a purpose that is linked to organizational performance.
  4. Feedback – Through formal and informal feedback channels an organization needs to provide leaders with feedback on how they are doing in a constructive and enabling way.

Assessments can play an important role in the self-reflection and feedback areas of leadership development – tools such as the MBTI instrument are incredibly valuable for helping leaders to examine their leadership style, motivators, and goals. Also, 360° assessments can provide effective multi-source feedback. However, neither option addresses the practice or educational elements that are required for effective leadership development.

360 assessment for 360 feedback MBTI-Logo

Do your leadership development efforts address all four areas? Are they aligned in a way that the self-reflection, learning, feedback and practice support the multifaceted and contextual nature of leadership development in your organization? If not, Hanson’s interface may help point you in the direction of areas needing more attention.

Questions / Comments? Ask an expert!


Hanson, B. (2012).  The leadership development interface: Aligning leaders and organizations toward more effective leadership learning

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