Valpeo Blog

How to prepare for an executive leadership assessment

No matter what stage of your career you are at, assessment for leadership skills can give you an objective idea of your abilities as a business leader. An effective leadership assessment lets you — and your organization — know in a constructive way just what kind of leadership skills you have and can help gauge your capacity to cope with different and challenging roles and responsibilities and therefore guide your career goals.

What is executive leadership assessment all about?

An executive leadership assessment lets you identify and detail the ability or potential of an individual to lead, manage, interact with and direct others at senior level. It assesses a person’s good fit into a given position and into the company culture and/or if he or she has the potential to grow into leadership roles.

Executive assessments are typically used when organizations need to hire senior employees into their business, from management to C-suite level. The purpose is to define the capabilities of current and future leaders and to understand how they can develop, how quickly and which career path is most appropriate. It provides a robust framework for sustaining the talent pipeline for key roles.

Successful assessments depend upon truly understanding the context - the match to strategic goals.

At increasing senior levels, the work requires executives to face challenges including:

● increasing ambiguity and complexity;
● long-term vision and greater uncertainty;
● a wider internal network of influence and collaboration;
● a more proactive interaction regarding the external environment and a more strategic value contribution.

The aim is to decrease the uncertainty involved with hiring and promotion decisions.
The emphasis is all about gaining insight into personal effectiveness and organizational sensitivity and to define potential risks and derailers.

What is standard in executive leadership assessment?

There are a variety of typical leadership assessment survey questions and these may be presented in any or all of the following:

● Case studies. They measure how a person reasons with work scenarios and can explain their solutions to these scenarios. This can be done individually or in a group.
● Group exercises or role play. These exercises find out how well you cooperate with others, and how you will communicate when there’s a problem to be solved or a task to be finished. Essentially, it’s about whether you are a team player or not.
● 360°Assessments. These are conducted to get an understanding of how an individual is perceived by others. The overall purpose is to understand the candidate’s behavior and impact.

The importance of using the right assessment tool

Good assessment tools save time and money and help a company to hire the right candidate. A lot of assessment tools and the leadership assessment survey questions that go with them, however, are generic. They focus narrowly on a leader’s behavior or competences.

At Valpeo, we believe that a leadership assessment should measure how possible hires will react to different possible contexts today and in the future. The paradigm should shift from seeking the level of competence towards understanding what makes somebody competent and in what context one will be most effective.

Can I get some examples of leadership assessment questions?

Reflect on the following questions:

● What is the added value that you are expected to bring within that specific role and the challenges you will need to face?
● What are your strengths as a leader? Can you clearly highlight your preferred way of working as a (future) leader in a case study? How can you clearly articulate in an interview how your strengths can be utilized in the new role and context?
● Which business environment attracts you and why? Do you foresee that you have to learn in a number of areas in the new role? How do you plan to do that?
● How do you see the role of a leader evolve over the next 10 years? Which of your traits would make that evolution positive for you?
● What are your motives as a leader? How do they make you suitable (or not) to lead in periods of structural change?
● What drives you and gives you energy?
● What is the meaning of work for you?
● What is your ideal culture?
● What level of complexity are you comfortable with? What is the size of the problems you would like to solve?
● If you would hire a leader, what questions would you prepare?

How to prepare for a leadership assessment?

● Know yourself. If you’re able to take or schedule the assessment whenever you want, choose a moment that fits best for you. If you’re not a morning person, don’t take the assessment in the morning!
● Don’t fake and remain authentic. If the results do not show the real you, you risk getting a job that’s not right for you. Those discrepancies between who you really are and the person you’ve pretended to be in the assessment will eventually come to light, which will not help you or the company in the long term.

Can I practice for a leadership assessment?

Yes, you can practice for a leadership assessment. You can look for a psychological survey, personality surveys and Situation Judgement Surveys online.
Besides that, you can also deep dive into the values and culture of the company you are applying for. That will help you to identify what is important for that specific company.

Where to find free leadership assessments

Some companies offer free assessments to help you to practice. McKinsey, for example, offers an online problem solving survey, while at Harvard Business Review, you can find a survey to review your emotional intelligence.

Other companies, such as provide online assessments for practicing. In most cases, they have a freemium model, so you can get some assessments for free but will have to pay if you want more.

What makes Valpeo stand out in leadership assessment?

Valpeo believes many assessments do not predict leadership effectiveness very well, because they focus too much on behavior or competencies.
We think leadership assessment should focus on understanding the personal dynamics in order to match the right leader to the right context. We do not only look how competent a leader is in one given context, but at the conditions that make one competent in any context. It’s all about understanding the ‘why’ of a person.

Recognizing and understanding personal dynamics allows us to identify the environment in which a person can make an authentic contribution, discover what the candidate’s added value is and what may possibly hinder them from achieving maximum results and optimal alignment. To achieve that, we combine scientifically validated models to map:

● The mental orientation: this shows an image of the level of consciousness awareness of an individual and the extent of the roles that they should be able to experience and cope with autonomously both now and in the future.
● The values orientation: this gives an idea of the primary concerns, main drivers and the cultural context within which a person can fully achieve his or her potential.
● The behavioural orientation: this gives an impression of the personality traits and behavioural preferences whereby behavior is grouped around four essential orientations: enterprising and innovating, driving and achievement, management and maintenance, alignment and coaching.

These three orientations allow us to identify the personal dynamics that anyone can - and wants - wants to realize, along with the added value and the possible obstacles that come with it. We also provide development recommendations.

Click here to find out more why we designed this new standard in assessments and how your organization might benefit from it.