What is a 360 Leadership Assessment?

Leadership tests are increasingly becoming more commonplace at work. Workplace assessments already make up a $500 million dollar industry,[1] and they’re only becoming more popular. The industry has grown by 10% in recent years, [2] and recent research shows that about 76% of organizations with more than 100 employees rely on assessment tools (and that’s only for hiring).[3] This is especially true for leaders. Most of these tests are self-assessments, meaning the employee or applicant is answering questions about themselves. Some, however, are 360 degree assessments (“360s” or “360 assessments” for short). These leadership assessments consult a variety of sources rather than just the leader themselves. There are a few pros and cons to leadership assessments, and 360 leadership assessments in general. Let’s take a look at both.

What are the Benefits of Using Leadership Assessments?

On their own, leadership assessments don’t do much. Leadership assessments provide a numerical representation of an employees’ skills and abilities, but that won’t get you very far if it’s not paired with constructive conversations and development efforts. Companies usually use leadership assessments as part of an over-arching leadership development process. The assessment can be used to quantify potential and identify opportunities. This information can then be used to set goals and choose which assignments and activities are best suited for development. Leadership assessments can also be used to measure progress by tracking change or improvement. The benefits of using leadership assessments in this way include the following:

  • Increased employee engagement
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Stronger internal talent pool
  • Decreased turnover
  • Improved company culture

What are the Pros of Using 360 Leadership Assessments?

When looking for a leadership assessment, you’ll find you have many options. Apart from making sure your assessment is scientifically developed (valid and reliable), you’ll have the choice between self-assessments and 360 leadership assessments. Self-assessments are completed by the test-taker themselves, while 360 leadership assessments consider multiple sources. These often include the leader themselves, co-workers, supervisors, direct reports, or customers (where applicable). Pros of 360 leadership assessments include:

  • Multiple perspectives
  • Buffer against personal bias
  • Ability to uncover blind spots
  • Insight into patterns or trends
  • Better insight into actual performance

What are the Cons of Using 360 Leadership Assessments?

While there are many benefits to using 360 leadership assessments, there are also a few downsides to be aware of:

  • 360 leadership assessments take much more time
  • They can be more costly
  • People may be less comfortable participating

Although there are some challenges to 360 leadership assessments, they can be very effective with small groups. This is especially true when everyone is engaged and eager to participate. 360 degree assessments provide an extra layer of feedback that might be particularly useful when making big decisions around important roles (i.e., promotion to an executive position). Self-assessments, on the other hand, are ideal for developing large groups on a small budget.

Introducing SIGMARadius

If you’re looking for a strong 360 leadership assessment, check out SIGMARadius. SIGMARadius is a 360 degree assessment of leadership skills that can be used to guide leadership development efforts. The test scores individuals on 50 leadership competencies including cognitive, personal, interpersonal, and senior leadership skills. Everyone who takes SIGMARadius will receive a SIGMARadius Leadership Effectiveness Report. This report which includes a summary of scores from all sources, an analysis of results, as well as action items you can use to create a personalized development plan.

Looking for More?

If you’re not sure which option is best for you – self- or 360 assessment – please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Over the last 50 years we’ve worked with more than 8,500 private and public organizations across North America. We’ve got lots of tips and tricks to share, and our consultants are always happy to chat.


Erica Sutherland, Ph.D.


Erica completed her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational psychology at Western University. She is a Senior Consultant at SIGMA, where she delivers consulting services and Succession Planning solutions to clients. As a member of SIGMA’s executive coaching team, Erica works one-on-one with leaders to develop talent. She also brings her expertise in measurement and psychometrics to the R&D team, assisting with the development and validation of SIGMA’s many assessments.


Brittney Anderson, Ph.D.


Brittney is a member of our coaching and consulting team. She brings her expertise in evidence-based practice to provide companies with leadership solutions that meet their needs. Primarily, Brittney helps her clients prepare for their future with succession planning and comprehensive leadership development programs. As an executive coach, she helps leaders hone their skills using a process-based approach to development.


Glen Harrison


Glen oversees SIGMA’s sales and marketing activities. As a skilled presenter and trainer, he has designed and delivered engaging and entertaining workshops and webinars to help leaders and HR professionals enhance their understanding of how our products and services can be used to realize potential within their organizations.

[1] Meinert, D. (June 1, 2015). What Do Personality Tests Really Reveal? SHRM. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/0615-personality-tests.aspx#:~:text=The%20%24500%2Dmillion%2Da%2D,for%20Human%20Resource%20Management%20members

[2] Ibid.

[3] Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2015). Ace the Assessment. HBR. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/07/ace-the-assessment#:~:text=Recent%20research%20shows%20that%20about,personality%20tests%20for%20external%20hiring.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.