Professional Partner Content

Why Do a Leadership Assessment?


If you’re not using data to find and develop leaders, you’re risking an expensive mistake. Many companies don’t think about using data during this process. They don’t see the bigger picture when it comes to leadership assessments.

Data helps us make objective decisions without relying too much on emotions. Often, companies must justify their investments through a decision-making process. Consider that pilots spend hours in simulations before their first flight. And before you can fly a plane, you must pass rigorous testing and assessments. If you can’t prove your fitness to fly, you don’t earn your pilot’s license.

The Importance of Leadership Assessment

So why don’t organizations assess their leaders before putting them in the pilot’s seat, or reassess their performance over time? Many companies choose leaders because they are good performers who “seem like” good leaders. And they often avoid providing feedback about areas of improvement—these conversations can be uncomfortable.

Failing to objectively assess a leader’s capabilities can have heavy consequences. It can create space for unconscious bias to influence the process. Also, poor leaders often have disengaged teams, lower productivity, and higher turnover. These effects usually linger long after a leader has left. But without an assessment process, you won’t know which teams are at risk.

These are just the potential costs of not assessing frontline managers. For each higher-level position, the cost of poor leadership grows. These leaders have more influence over people, strategy, and budget. At the executive level, one individual’s mistakes can cost millions.


With so much at risk, it’s amazing that companies still ask, “Why do a leadership assessment?” Instead, they should be asking, “How can I use assessments to get better data about our leaders?”

How to Use Leadership Assessments

Assessments shouldn’t be another process that HR owns behind the scenes. Rather, they should be a rich experience that benefits both the leader and the company.


Think of assessments as a flight simulation or audition. It’s a process to make sure the leadership candidate is ready for the job ahead by understanding what strengths they’ll bring with them as well as the areas they’ll need extra developmental support. An assessment gives the participant objective, unbiased feedback about whether they are ready to perform on the job. Reviewing the results with the participant tells them where to focus their development efforts to improve.

Companies use this data in a wide range of ways. Some companies use it to create objectivity in hiring and promotion decisions. Others use the data to identify candidates for high-potential pools or to guide succession planning.

But perhaps most importantly, data helps lead development discussions with individual leaders and personalize their development plans. Data provides insight into their behavioral strengths and areas for development. It also reveals personality traits that could enable or derail future success. This self-awareness can deeply influence a leader’s career, helping them be effective in their current and future roles.

Group data from an assessment tool is incredibly powerful. As you review strengths and weaknesses, you may see “hot spots” where many leaders struggle with similar challenges. They need your help, and you have an opportunity to plan group development opportunities for them. You may also see how strengths and gaps align to support or undermine your company’s business strategy. For more about leadership assessment, read DDI’s blog.

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