What is the Role of Assessments in Leadership Development?

What is the Role of Assessments in Leadership Development?

“To measure is to know”

– Lord Kelvin

The popularity of leadership development is skyrocketing. Almost every school, company, government, or sports team has some form of a leadership development program. Industry data suggests that over $350 billion dollars are being invested in leadership development annually around the world, and that trend is on the rise. But where is all the money going? A significant portion goes to talent assessments – more specifically, leadership assessments. But what is the role of assessments in leadership development? In this blog, we’ll take a look at how assessments can be used to identify, select, and develop strong leaders.

The Role of Leadership Development

Before we jump into assessments, let’s take a step back and look at leadership development at large. Leadership development is becoming more and more prevalent in the corporate context. These investments make sense, given that studies are affirming the benefits of leadership development, including a 25% increase in learning capacity, and a 20% increase in performance.[i] The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently published a studying showing that over half of HR professionals expect that coaching (70%), leader-to-leader development (68%), learning on-the-job (60%), and mentoring (60%) will become more important leadership development methods in the next 2-3 years.[ii]  Despite this growth, 69% of millennials still believe there is a lack of leadership development in the workplace – and for good reason. Although 83% of enterprises say leadership development is important across all levels in a company, only 5% have a leadership development program in place.[iii] This is where leadership assessments come into play. Leadership assessments make the process of leadership development faster and more effective. Let’s take a look at how that happens.

The Role of Assessments in Leadership Development

Leadership assessments are used to measure leadership competency (i.e., skills, abilities, characteristics). And, as Lord Kelvin said, “To measure is to know.” Leadership assessments therefore provide knowledge that can be used to make better decisions about leadership development. This includes:

  1. Identifying leadership potential
  2. Selecting candidates for leadership
  3. Developing strong leaders

Identifying Leadership Potential

First, leadership assessments can be used to identify leadership potential. This is important because other sources (i.e., references or reviews) are based primarily on performance. Assessments provide an added level of insight because they are able to measure an individual’s abilities rather than existing accomplishments. As such, leadership assessments can help you identify your top potentials, as well as your hidden talents.

Selecting Candidates for Leadership Roles

Second, leadership assessments can be used to select candidates for leadership roles. Most leadership assessments measure specific competencies or categories of leadership skills. Individual scores can be used to identify strengths and development opportunities. This breakdown of leadership skills can also be used to identify who the best candidate may be for a particular position or role.

Developing Strong Leaders

Finally, leadership assessments can be used for the actual talent development process. Assessments can be used to identify specific areas where there is room for growth. They can also be re-administered periodically to measure progress and track improvement. Having this information available can be incredibly useful when making a case for leadership development (i.e., demonstrating the value or success of your program to a board of directors or other stakeholders). It can also be highly motivating for leaders, who will be able to see their own growth and development tracked in a consistent and quantified way.

Introducing the LSP-R

If you’re looking for a strong assessment to help you test your leadership skills, check out SIGMA’s Leadership Skills Profile – Revised (LSP-R). The LSP-R is a personality-based 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 the LSP-R will automatically receive a Focus Report which includes a summary of scores and analysis of results, as well as templates and activities for creating a personalized development plan.

Looking for More?

If you have questions about the LSP-R, your Focus Report, or the role of assessments in leadership development, 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.

[i] Apollo Technical. (December 19th, 2021). 25 Surprising Leadership Statistics to Take Note of (2022). Apollo Technical. Retrieved from https://www.apollotechnical.com/leadership-statisti

[ii] SHRM. (2016). Leadership Development: The Path To Greater Effectiveness. SHRM. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/documents/leadership-development-the-path-to-greater-effectiveness.pdf.

[iii] Djurovic, A. (November 28, 2020). 22 Inspiring Leadership Statistics for a Successful 2022. GoRemotely. Retrieved from https://goremotely.net/blog/leadership-statistics/.

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.