Self-Assessment for Leadership

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To be a successful leader, you must be skilled at diplomacy, empathy, and being able to lead by example.

If you’re already in a leadership position, it may not be possible to get feedback from a superior. However, it is possible to monitor your own development as a leader through self-assessment techniques.

You can create your own plans for improvement through self-assessment. Self-assessments can be used by leaders to evaluate their own performance during a specified time period.

Reflective journaling

One of the simplest ways you can assess your own leadership development is through reflective journaling. This involves keeping a learning log on your development as a leader. You record your goals, expectations, and accomplishments.

You can follow a simple procedure for reflective journaling. For each significant leadership lesson you experience, first record what happened in your journal. Then ask yourself why you think it happened and record your thoughts. Finally, reflect on what can be learned from the experience for the future.

Surveys and checklists

Surveys and checklists are another form of self-assessment you can use for monitoring your own leadership progression. They can be used periodically to provide a quick assessment of where you are now and how you’re developing over time. They help to build leadership knowledge and skills by increasing your self-awareness and your relationship with others.

There is a simple procedure you can follow to use surveys and checklists for effective self-assessment:

  • create a survey based on leadership competencies, not just in the areas you’re most interested but in as many areas as you think are relevant
  • fill in the survey and notice your self-perceptions as you assess yourself in different areas
  • note the patterns and areas for development that emerge from your answers – this helps you assess your progress in subsequent surveys

Leaders can complete their own surveys and work on any issues these surveys highlight. They can then complete the survey again at a later stage and compare their results to their initial surveys.

360-degree feedback

360-degree feedback is a full-circle review that reveals the big picture of how others see your performance. The first step in the procedure involves your peers, supervisors, and direct reports completing a confidential survey about you that contains a broad range of leadership competency questions. Raters are asked to rate competencies and provide written feedback. Finally, you receive the results and compare the results to your own survey.

You can design your own 360-degree feedback survey. There are some common competencies shared by effective leaders that you can include:

  • inspirational leaders are usually honest, forward-thinking, motivating, and competent
  • they possess vision, realism, ethics, and courage
  • they develop the foundations of inspirational leadership by modeling, sharing, challenging, enabling, and encouraging others
  • they have the ability to activate inner greatness by showing integrity, credibility, by balancing equity and responsibility, and giving hope

You can use these leadership competencies as a guide to creating your own survey. Once you’ve created and completed the survey, you should be able to consolidate results and identify patterns.


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