The History of Leadership Team Assessment

Jeff Evans's picture
Leadership Team Assessment History

At least as early as the 1990s, leaders of organizations were being analyzed for strengths and weaknesses not through the traditional lens of profit and loss but with new tools of psychology, including an appreciation for emotional intelligence, a systematic review of “soft skills,” and insights into their awareness of multiple intelligences. This leadership team assessment has grown and developed over the decades to produce ever-more reliable results. Assessments can now be validated to increase reliability and validity, and outcomes can be better predicted. We have the power and tools of science to help produce stronger, more consistently excellent organizational leaders, thanks to the long history of leadership team assessment


For decades, business psychology turned its analytical eye toward customer-vendor relationships, without much regard to the dynamics within a company’s team. What did consumers want? How could a company consistently deliver high-quality, desirable products?

With the application of psychology to focus on intra-team relationships, researchers like Bettin and Kennedy (1990) finally quantified measurements of leadership, including but not limited to rated experience and previous positions held. This research supported methods to apply numerical structures to otherwise anecdotal evidence, and leadership team assessment became far more reliable.

Emotional Intelligence

In the mid-1990s Dr. Daniel Goleman brought forth a revelatory book, Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, and gave to the business world a superior measurement for leadership: is your organization’s leader emotionally intelligent—able to build and maintain strong personal relationships? 

Refined over the decades, measurements of EQ (to differentiate from intelligence quotient, or IQ) are now accurate enough to provide valuable insight into leaders’ minds, personalities and work strategies. Measures of EQ become core elements in any leadership team assessment.

Multiple Intelligences

Business borrows; the fields of purely analytical research and developmental psychology are rich grounds in which to harvest great ideas for shaping business psychology.

Howard Gardner’s 1999 work on Multiple Intelligences validated what many human resource executives already instinctively knew: some leaders are just really great people persons. They interact well with colleagues, employees and stakeholders of all levels. They have insights into human nature others do not. 

Gardner’s gift to the business and education communities was giving scholarly merit to untraditional intelligences such as these:

  1. Linguistic
  2. Musical
  3. Logical-mathematical
  4. Interpersonal
  5. Intrapersonal
  6. Spatial
  7. Bodily-kinesthetic

In leadership team assessment, few companies worry if their C-suite executives can run a six-minute mile or solve convex optimization problems. Every company, though, wants to know if those executives and managers being groomed for more responsibility possess the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills to bring out the best in their leadership teams.

With Gardner’s metrics for measuring intelligence beyond the chalkboard and gridiron, leadership team assessment became more powerful, encompassing, and supportive. 

Using the best psychological and validated assessments, a firm with the experience, integrity and expertise that Envision Global Leadership offers can help your organization accurately perform leadership team assessments and point out the challenge areas and strengths of your leaders and leaders-to-be. Contact EGL today to learn more.