Identifying the Gaps in Your Leadership Practice

Most people overestimate their leadership abilities. That’s assuming they have performed any type of personal leadership assessment. In our leadership training sessions, after some basic leadership level setting, the first, and longest, topic we discuss is assessing one’s leadership abilities. This includes assessing who the participants are as a person, who they are as a leader, how their leadership is perceived by others and their situational influences. This are usually a very illuminating exercises as they learn more about themselves and the perceptions of others they work with. After all, if you don’t know yourself, how can you expect to lead others. Additionally, in leadership, perception is everything. If the people around you don’t perceive you as a good leader they may resist following you. On the other hand, if they perceive you as a good leader, they will probably follow you almost anywhere.

These misconceptions between how the leader perceives their leadership abilities and the perceptions of others are gaps that each leader needs to identify and work on. We will discuss 3 types of gaps every leader should identify: individual, team & peer and organization level.

We use our proprietary, Leadership IMPACT Assessment, as the tool to measure and monitor leadership. This tool was developed using a combination of human behavior, market research and analytics disciplines. We’ve been using it for the last 6 years in our leadership programs. It assesses leadership across 9 dimensions which are summarized into the Potential for Leadership (all caps dimensions) and the Practice of Leadership (all other dimensions).  Results are visualized as percentiles versus a raw score and compared to other measures to provide context.

Individual Gaps

On the surface, performing an individual assessment would seem fairly straightforward. The challenge is to provide context to the results, as results without context are meaningless. To provide context, the individual’s results are compared to a population average of all who have taken the assessment. The chart below on the left visualizes the gaps in the individual’s leadership practice by identifying the dimensions where they are above the population average and where they are below the population average. In this situation, Pat Smith is below the average on all but a couple dimension. This person should obviously work on the dimensions they are below the population average, but they shouldn’t neglect the dimensions above the average as they need to continue and improve on what they’re doing right on those dimensions.

Additionally, the tool can also be used to monitor leadership growth. We usually reassess every 3 months to determine where the individual is improving and where further improvement is needed. The chart below on the right visualizes the dimensions they have and have not improved on.

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Team & Peer Gaps

The team & peer assessment is usually where things get interesting. This is where individuals are usually awakened to the fact that their team and peers don’t perceive their leadership abilities the way they do. People are usually surprised in two ways. One, their team and peers may not perceive their leadership abilities as highly as they do. Two, their team and peers may perceive some of their leadership abilities higher than the individual does. These gaps provide the leader with clear direction on what needs to be addressed as well as providing positive feedback on areas they may not have been aware they were doing well.

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Organization Level Gaps

The third gap leaders need to identify is how well they perform compared to their organization level peers. In this case, their peers aren’t assessing them. They are all taking the same assessment with the results being summarized. This analysis is new to us and results from some data exploratory work we performed earlier this year. We were surprised to see very distinct leadership profiles for the individual organization levels. In the charts below, the profile of the CEOs is very different from the profile of the Vice Presidents which is much different from the profile of the Directors. Identifying the gaps between yourself and your organization level peers could mean the difference between obtaining that next promotion and not.

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Your Next Step

Now that you are aware of the various gaps you should identify, your next step should be to see how you measure up to the population average. In our experience, the people who identified their gaps were able to show an improvement in leadership in three months of 3% to 22% across all dimensions, with an overall average improvement of 10% and median of 8%. These improvements were due to an increased awareness and focus on their leadership practice.

You can take the Leadership IMPACT Assessment (LIA) for a special rate now until August 31, 2022. The discounted rate doesn’t include the individual debriefing and coaching session we usually provide with the assessment. While there, learn how the LIA is used as the engine that drives our Leadership Resources Management Solution.

Thank you and continue leading every day!

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