Conducting a leadership team assessment is one of those things that you think you know what it is and how it should be done but it’s all too easy to get it wrong. Beware of these three common pitfalls when undertaking a leadership team assessment.
Assessing the wrong thing
Even with good leadership and a great product, a business can be held back by production inefficiencies, bottlenecks in the supply chain, or ineffective management at the project manager level. Though these are all important issues to get to grips with, assessing them is is not the same as a leadership team assessment. A common mistake is to think you are undertaking a leadership team assessment, when you are in fact assessing one of these other areas. They should be addressed using appropriate metrics for your business, and can often be compared with other benchmarks in your industry, or with competitors. But a true leadership team assessment is something quite different, and, even when everything else is working correctly, your business can still benefit further by a proper leadership team assessment that shows you where your leadership team is doing things right, and how it can be improved.
You may assume assessing leadership is more art than science, and that it may not even be possible, given the many types of leaders, to assess it exactly. In reality it is a bit of both, though we have discovered through years of assessing leaders that there is a universality to what makes leadership teams excel. Since great leadership is invariably about motivating other people in large part, this is not really so surprising once you think about it. This means leadership assessment can be done in a distinct way from assessing efficiency and productivity, which are all very specific to a business and its niche. The true leadership assessment is something above and beyond that. There are many vague terms people attribute to this, like the “It factor” or that “Je ne sais quoi” which make it sound like exemplary leadership is elusive and cannot be assessed in a scientific way. We have shown that the truth is quite different.
Not achieving objectivity
Proper assessment of anything requires a number of conditions to be met. Ultimately this comes down to having the right perspective and being fully objective. As a leader you have, or should have, a perspective that takes your whole operation into account. But there is a wider perspective that comes from making assessments of a wide variety of businesses. Related to this is the problem of achieving objectivity. Both problems can be addressed by using an outside partner who specializes in leadership assessment. A further benefit of having an outsider perform an assessment is that it lessens the likelihood of personal animosity developing. No member of the leadership team is being directly criticized by another member, but instead the feedback comes from the outside assessor.