As consultants, we are privileged to work with various types of leaders with a vast array of skills, abilities, perspectives, and leadership acumen. One of the challenges of the client/consultant relationship is establishing trust through understanding (McKnight, 2009). For this reason, leadership assessment tools can be useful for consultants. The use of a quality leadership assessment tool can equip us, the consultants, with deeper understanding of the leader we are working with by removing guesswork. A leadership assessment tool cuts through the facades leaders can present, the lack of understanding leaders possess of themselves, and the misunderstandings followers hold of their leaders. As consultants, assessments equip us to be successful in helping leaders be successful.
An assessment I use is the Clifton Strengthsfinder. It is built upon the philosophy that the greatest opportunity in a person’s personal and professional life is to engage and extract the passion and power existing within them (Hanson and Miller, 2002). It uses positive psychology which focuses on building human strengths, positive behavior, and virtues rather than the deficits in human nature such as weaknesses, victimology, and psychological problems (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).
Strengths are constructed from an individual’s talents, knowledge, and experience (Buckingham and Clifton, 2002) to identify recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that can be productively applied for optimal performance and success (Tomkovick & Swanson, 2014). Since weaknesses will only become moderate competencies at best, consultants who use StrengthsFinder will be able to help leaders focus on talents that can become strengths (Buckingham and Clifton, 2001).
The Strengthfinder assessment quantifies 34 specified strengths clustered into four domains: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking (Rath and Conchie, 2008). Consultants who open this world up for leaders may open up a whole new life for them as well.
Buckingham, M., & Clifton, D. O. (2001). Now, Discover Your Strengths. FreePress.
Hanson, M., & Miller Jr., A. F. (2002). The productive use of strengths: a shared responsibility. Industrial and Commercial Training, 34(3), 95–100. http://doi.org/10.1108/00197850210424935
McKnight, W. (2009). 90 days to success in consulting. Australia ; Boston, MA: Course Technology Cengage Learning.
Rath, T., & Conchie, B. (2008). Strengths based leadership: great leaders, teams, and why people follow. New York: Gallup Press.
Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14. http://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5
Tomkovick, C., & Swanson, S. (2014). Using Strengthsfinder to Identify Relationships Between Marketing Graduate Strengths and Career Outcomes. Marketing Education Review, 24(3), 197.