What is a Leadership Assessment?

As the workplace becomes more global and remote, companies are recognizing the need to invest in their employees. However, with people working from home and scattered across continents, leaders are finding it more important, but also more difficult, to connect. Team building requires an entirely new set of technical and analytical skills, not to mention psycho-social expertise for which most managers and executives have never been given any training. As a result, leadership development efforts are growing. In 2020, investments in leadership training were estimated at $357.7 billion worldwide in 2020, with $165.3 billion from North America.[1] A significant part of that training is built on tools such as leadership assessments. But what exactly are leadership assessments? Can leadership be tested? And do leadership assessments really work? Let’s find out.

What is a Leadership Assessment?

A leadership assessment is a tool that allows organizations to quantify leadership potential or performance. Assessments can be done on paper or online, with online assessments becoming increasingly popular as they can be administered to large groups in a short period of time (they are also often more cost-effective). Leadership assessments usually consist of a “scale” (a set of questions measuring a particular concept), and each “scale” consists of multiple “items” (questions). At the end of the assessment, you will usually get a report or a summary of scores telling you how you did on each scale.

Can Leadership be Tested?

As you’re reading this, you might be wondering whether a concept like leadership can really be measured. How do you assign a number to something so broad? We start by breaking it down. Assessments are often based on a model, or framework, like SIGMA’s leadership competency framework. The best leadership assessments are based on a framework that was scientifically developed, so you know that it’s valid and reliable. Frameworks like this will help you break a big concept like “leadership” down into smaller, more specific strengths and development opportunities. So, yes, leadership can be measured. But do those leadership assessments really work?

Do Leadership Assessments Work?

Once you have a framework that breaks leadership down, it becomes easier to create scales and items to test those smaller concepts (often called “competencies” or “dimensions”). These scales also need to be valid and reliable in order for the assessment to work.

  • Valid leadership assessments measure what they say they are going to measure (i.e., the scores truly reflect leadership skills, not organizational skills or another concept).
  • Reliable assessments give consistent results (i.e., if the same person takes the same assessment multiple times under the same conditions, they should receive the same score).

If you have a strong leadership framework, and a strong assessment, then yes, your leadership assessment will work. But how do you know whether your leadership assessment is strong?

Here are five things to look for when choosing a strong leadership assessment:[2]

  1. The assessment uses an evidence-based model of personality
  2. It measures traits that are relevant to the job
  3. It was created by those with expertise in psychometrics
  4. It has been validated on a sample that is similar to the candidate pool
  5. There is evidence of strong reliability and predictive validity

Introducing the LSP-R

If you’re looking for a strong leadership assessment, check out the 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 want to learn more about leadership assessments, what they are, how they’re used, and why some are better than others, check out SIGMA’s workplace assessment Q&A. If you have questions about the LSP-R, your Focus Report, or you’d like to speak with a consultant, contact us below. We’re 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] Apollo Technical. (December 19, 2021). 25 SURPRISING LEADERSHIP STATISTICS TO TAKE NOTE OF (2022). Apollo Technical. Retrieved from https://www.apollotechnical.com/leadership-statistics/#:~:text=Leadership%20training%20investments%20were%20estimated,difficult%20for%20most%20businesses%20worldwide.

[2] Di Fabio, A., & Saklofske, D. H. (2019). Positive relational management for sustainable development: Beyond personality traits—The contribution of emotional intelligence. Sustainability11(2), 330. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020330.

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.