Interpreting High Scores on the LCIA

“The idea is to go from numbers, to information, to understanding”

– Hans Rosling

SIGMA’s Leadership Character Insight Assessment (LCIA) assesses an individual’s character. Character is a collection of virtues and qualities that can help you succeed at work. The LCIA can be taken as either a self-rated measure of character or as an other-rated 360-degree leadership assessment that collects perspectives from colleagues, direct reports, and supervisors. In this blog, we’ll tell you a little more about interpreting high scores on the LCIA.

Regardless of the version of the assessment completed, some people will receive relatively high scores across all leadership character dimensions. While it may feel good to get positive results, it also makes it difficult to interpret scores and select development opportunities. How can you decide which character dimensions you’d like to focus on when all of the character traits were scored positively? In this blog we’ll provide four tips for interpreting your LCIA report when the results show high scores on every dimension.

Tip 1: Discover Your Top Strengths

The companion worksheet to this resource is our LCIA Top Strengths Activity. We recommend that you begin by completing the worksheet while referring to your LCIA results. Your Top Strengths are not simply dimensions that you score highly on; they also include strengths that you believe to be critical to your values and identity – the strengths that make you unique. By asking yourself some additional questions that go beyond the LCIA report results, you can gain clarity on which high scoring dimensions are your top strengths in the set.

Questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Does this strength come naturally to me?
  • Do others see this strength in me?
  • Does using this strength feel energizing?
  • Do I use this strength frequently?

When you can think of a particular dimension and answer “yes” to most or all of the questions above, it is a very good indicator that this particular dimension may be a strength for you. Once you have identified your top strengths, take time to appreciate them and consider how they’ve helped you succeed in your personal and professional life. You can also consider how you might use your strengths in new ways to increase your enjoyment and engagement in daily activities.

Tip 2: Higher Scores are Not Always Better

On most tests, high scores are indicative of success. Tests have right or wrong answers, and the more right answers you select, the higher your score. The LCIA, however, is not a test. Rather, it is a leadership assessment with no right or wrong answers. High scores are not always indicative of success, and there can be no “perfect score.” Assessments can evaluate the unique characteristics of an individual, such as their knowledge, skills, personality, preferences, or attitudes. They reflect an accurate picture of what the individual is like, but it’s ultimately up to the assessment-taker to interpret the significance of their own results.

Although a high score on an LCIA dimension may indicate masterful use of a true strength, it may also indicate an individual’s predisposition to overuse a character dimension in situations where other traits might be more beneficial. The goal should be to attain a balanced score across all dimensions of leader character, and to work on improving them together.

When checking your LCIA results for balance, consider how each leader character dimension might help or hinder another. This is important because excessive, unchecked character patterns can harm your success both in professional and personal contexts. For example, people who are highly courageous but don’t often express temperance may find themselves taking unnecessary risks. As a result, they may end up in dangerous situations they are ill-prepared for. For individuals like this, it is important to develop temperance first rather than another leader character dimension – in order to balance their courage. Take a look at your results and think about instances in which your character dimensions need to be better balanced. Try not to focus too much on your results on one dimension – instead, take a look at the holistic picture of your overall scores.

Some helpful dimensions to compare for balance include:

  • Integrity vs. Humanity (i.e., balancing ethics with compassion)
  • Drive vs. Temperance (i.e., balancing passion with boundaries)
  • Courage vs. Accountability (i.e., balancing risk-taking with responsibility)
  • Collaboration vs. Humility (i.e., balancing team productivity with modesty)

Tip 3: Scores Are Relative

In addition to balance, another important thing to remember about LCIA scores is that they should be interpreted as relative to each other. Even if all dimension scores appear to be high, it’s unlikely that they are all exactly the same. We recommend comparing the relative high and low scores within your own score report. For example, you may have scored a 4.5 on the integrity dimension and a 4 on collaboration. While these are both high scores, relatively speaking, collaboration would be a development area as it shows more room for improvement than integrity or other dimensions.

Another strategy for identifying developmental opportunities is to look at the element scores within each dimension. Elements are the sub-components of each dimension. For example, the elements that make up humility include being self-aware, modest, reflective, curious, a continuous learner, respectful, grateful, and vulnerable. Rather than focusing only on the dimension, consider each element as a possible area for development. Even when an overall dimension score is high, it is common to find at least one or two elements that have room for improvement. For example, someone who has a high score on humility may find that they actually have a fairly low score on the element of being grateful. Therefore, this individual can still improve their humility by practicing more gratitude in their daily life.

Tip 4: Apply Your Results

Our final tip is to make sure that you apply your LCIA results. Don’t settle for reading and understanding your report – set aside some time to think about how you are going to use those results to develop leader character and accomplish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goals. Start by reviewing the top strengths you identified. Do you feel that you are currently displaying all of these qualities in your day-to-day work life? For instance, some people may find that they score high on integrity, but they can think of times when they did not speak up to defend their values when working in a group setting. Other people may find that they score high on courage but find it difficult to think of instances when they were required to demonstrate bravery or tenacity at their job. Can you identify any character dimensions or elements that look like they are used often on paper, but in reality you may not find yourself exercising those skills due to a lack of opportunity or fear of embarrassment or retribution?

If you have not yet exercised some of your top strengths, think of common scenarios at work or in your personal life where you may have an opportunity to apply that character dimension. Next, consider how you might be able to leverage your character strengths to make your own or others’ work more enjoyable and effective.

Looking for More?

If you have any questions about the LCIA or could benefit from support in interpreting your results, contact us today. SIGMA has worked with more than 8,500 public and private organizations across North America to successfully implement employee development initiatives. Our expert leadership coaches are available to review your results and help you formulate a personalized, targeted plan for future development.  

Talk to Ruby


Ruby Nadler, Ph.D., Leadership Consultant

Ruby has a Ph.D in Cognition and Perception, as well as specific training in mindfulness and positive psychology. She brings this expertise to SIGMA’s executive coaching programs. In 2015 she was awarded a two-year Ontario Centers of Excellence TalentEdge Fellowship, and her research has been featured on CBC, BBC Radio, Happify, and NPR. Call or email Ruby – she would be happy to answer questions about the LCIA, leader character, coaching, etc.

Phone: 1-800-401-4480 ext. 223

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.