Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Ethics of Leadership Assessment

Anyone involved with leadership assessment and development has war stories about ineffective use of leadership assessment tools. Dr. Chris Musselwhite offers a few  guidelines for effective and ethical use of leadership assessments.

- Even a good assessment can be misused. We’ll assume you are using assessments that are valid and reliable. But, even good assessments can be misused. Don’t be guilty of over-simplifying a multi-dimensional person into an over-simplified cookie-cutter prototype of a leader. Assessments are designed to provide insights and glimpses into the behavioral preferences of an individual, not to provide a blueprint.

- Preferences are only preferences. Personality preferences help us to understand our tendencies. Some of our tendencies may be quite pronounced and may color the lenses through which we view our surroundings. My experience is that rather than introduce constraints, understanding this creates options. Better understanding how I interpret and respond to my environment offers me options for growth and development. Understanding how others interpret their environment gives me the opportunity for adaptability and flexibility.

- Preferences do not equal behaviors. Preference is about my most natural inclinations for reacting and responding. It also colors how I interpret the behaviors of others. My behavior is only dictated by my preferences when I am blind to those preferences. Knowledge is power.

- The focus of assessment should be developmental. Leadership assessment should be about improving leadership effectiveness so when assessment is used for hiring or promotion, don’t try dressing it up as leadership assessment. Assessments that are validated for developmental purposes may not be validated for hiring and promoting. In addition to ethical concerns, this can also have serious legal implications.

- Don’t be lazy. People are complex so don’t use personality assessment as a substitute for listening and asking good questions. People are not labels so don’t use them.

- Confidentiality is supreme. Leadership assessment should be confidential. If I choose to share an insight that I have learned about my natural preferences or someone else’s perceptions about my effectiveness then it is my choice.
Contact Discovery Learning, Inc. to learn more about incorporating Leadership Assessment into your Leadership Development Program. 

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