20 May 2024

Leadership Assessment Tools: A Review

A pros and cons guide to choosing the right assessment tool for leadership development.

Assessment tools are often useful additions in leadership development programs and as an input to coaching. However, there are so many available, it can be difficult to decide which one is the most relevant to use.

Here, we review eight of the most commonly used leadership assessment tools, highlighting pros and cons, so that you can make an informed decision.

1. 360-Degree Feedback Assessment

A process for gathering feedback from a leader’s team members, peers, colleagues and manager, as well as a self-evaluation from the leader themselves


  • Offers comprehensive feedback from multiple perspectives, providing a holistic view of leadership effectiveness
  • Facilitates self-awareness and development by highlighting blind spots and areas for improvement
  • Enhances team performance and fosters a culture of feedback and continuous improvement
  • Can be tailor-made to incorporate your organisation’s leadership competencies, or generic


  • Requires careful administration and interpretation to ensure reliability and validity of feedback
  • Can be time-consuming and resource-intensive for both participants and administrators
  • May lead to issues such as bias or conflicts if not implemented properly

In summary: 360-degree feedback assessments are powerful tools for leadership development as they offer valuable insights from various stakeholders. However, they require thoughtful implementation and follow-up to maximise their effectiveness.

2. CliftonStrengths

Self-assessment of a leader’s preferred patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving – their strengths


  • Focuses on identifying and leveraging individual strengths to enhance leadership effectiveness and personal growth
  • Provides a positive framework for self-awareness and development, emphasising what individuals do well
  • Can be integrated into team building and leadership development initiatives


  • Limited in scope compared to assessments that also identify areas for development
  • Results may be overly optimistic and neglect areas needing improvement
  • Relies on self-reporting, which may introduce bias or inaccuracies

In summary: While CliftonStrengths offers a helpful strengths-based approach to leadership development, it should be supplemented with other assessments to provide a more comprehensive view.

3. DISC Assessment

Self-assessment of a leader’s behavioural style, based on a framework of four key styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness


  • Offers a straightforward framework for understanding behaviour styles
  • Easy to administer and understand, making it accessible for a wide range of organisations and individuals
  • Provides practical insights that can be applied immediately in various organisational contexts


  • Critics argue that it may oversimplify complex human behaviour and neglect individual nuances
  • Limited research supporting its validity compared to more established assessments
  • Results may be perceived as overly deterministic, pigeonholing individuals into rigid categories

In summary: DiSC is a popular and accessible tool for understanding behaviour styles and improving interpersonal dynamics, although its simplicity may be limiting in some contexts.

4. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Assessments

Self-assessment of a leader’s strengths and potential areas for development in relation to emotional and social skills


  • Helps leaders develop self-awareness, empathy, and social skills, crucial for effective leadership
  • Offers practical strategies for enhancing emotional intelligence and improving interpersonal relationships
  • Can be integrated into leadership development programs to foster emotional intelligence competencies


  • Various EQ assessments exist, each with its own strengths and limitations, requiring careful selection based on organisational needs
  • Limited research is available to support the predictive validity of some EQ assessments in leadership contexts
  • Relies on self-reporting, which may be subject to bias and inaccuracies

In summary: Emotional intelligence assessments provide valuable insights into leaders’ abilities to understand and manage emotions, although careful consideration is needed to select the most appropriate assessment for specific leadership development goals.

5. Hogan Assessments

Suite of five different personality assessments, for use in different contexts, focusing on individual strengths, values and challenges


  • Based on robust research and psychometric principles, offering reliable and valid assessments of personality and leadership potential
  • Provides insights into both strengths and potential derailers, helping leaders mitigate risks and maximise effectiveness
  • Tailored assessments available for different leadership levels and organisational needs


  • Costly to administer and may require specialised training for interpretation
  • Feedback may be perceived as overly clinical or impersonal by some participants
  • Requires careful consideration of ethical issues related to privacy and confidentiality

In summary: The Hogan Assessment provides deep and nuanced insights into leadership potential and risks, although its cost and complexity may limit accessibility for some organisations.

6. Insights Discovery

Self- assessment tool using a four-colour model to highlight key personality preferences and associated behaviours


  • Offers an engaging framework for understanding personality preferences, creating a common language around the four colours
  • Provides actionable insights that can be applied immediately in various organisational contexts, particularly in improving communication and teamwork
  • Easy to understand and apply, making it accessible for individuals at all levels


  • Relatively simplistic compared to other assessments, lacking depth in some areas
  • May oversimplify human behaviour and neglect individual nuances
  • Limited research is available to support its validity and reliability compared to more established assessments

In summary: Insights Discovery offers accessible insights into personality preferences and communication styles, although its depth and scientific rigour are questioned by some experts.

7. Lumina Spark

Self-assessment using a three personality dimensions approach (the underlying persona, the everyday persona, the overextended persona)


  • Provides detailed insights into personality traits and leadership styles
  • Offers personalised insights tailored to individual leadership preferences and behaviours (rather than personality types)
  • Can be integrated easily into coaching and development programs


  • Requires specialised training for administration and interpretation
  • Relatively high cost may limit accessibility for some organisations
  • Limited research on effectiveness is available compared to more established assessments

In summary: Lumina Spark provides in-depth insights into personality traits and how leaders can exhibit different personality traits depending on the context. However,  its cost and complexity may be barriers for some organisations.

8. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI

Self-assessment evaluating preferences on four pairs of opposites (extraversion-introversion, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, judging-perceiving)


  • Provides insights into preferred work styles, communication preferences, and team dynamics according to 16 combinations of personality type
  • Widely recognised and used, it fosters a common language and understanding of personality differences
  • Can be a useful tool for both personal and professional development


  • Controversial due to the lack of empirical evidence supporting its validity
  • Results may be overly simplistic and not capture the complexity of personality
  • Dichotomous nature of the assessment may lead to binary thinking about personality traits

In summary: While popular, the MBTI has its critics due to concerns about validity and reliability. It can still offer valuable insights when used as a starting point for self-reflection and understanding and followed up with other types of assessment.

In conclusion

Each assessment tends to focus on a particular model or aspect of behaviours and preferences. Selecting the most appropriate leadership assessment tool therefore requires careful consideration of your organisation’s goals, culture, and the specific competencies and behaviours you want to evaluate. It’s also important to consider factors such as reliability, validity, accessibility and cost.

Leadership assessments are best used as part of a holistic approach to leadership development and talent management. They can provide valuable insights when used appropriately but should not be the sole determinant of development, hiring, promotion, or performance management decisions. Choose your leadership assessment tool bearing this in mind and you’ll provide your leaders with invaluable feedback and insights.

Written by TNM Coaching


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