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Q: In my financial services organization, several of our managers/leaders have taken the LPI® Self assessment, administered by our HR Department and managed via the LPI Online portal. The LPI reports are used to create individual development plans that sometimes include further training workshops. Participants are aware that their individual reports will be reviewed by members of the HR/Talent Development team to provide guidance for one-to-one coaching, scheduling of any additional training, and also to report out to upper management on an individual’s overall progress and outcome of the training. Given that others will see their LPI report and may make judgements—rightly or wrongly—about an individual’s potential or performance, I wonder if our leaders are not trying to “game” the instrument. Whether consciously or subconsciously, are they reacting to the stress they feel about how the results will affect their development plans, career paths, or even employment prospects and inadvertently altering their responses? Are they approaching it as a “test” rather than answering honestly about the frequency with which they exhibit the 30 behaviors?
A: Let me begin by establishing first and foremost that the purpose of the LPI is developmental. In some ways it doesn’t matter what the individual’s “scores” are, as much as it matters that the person is motivated to take action to become a better leader. The initial iteration of the LPI is not about good or bad, above or below average, but a baseline report that provides a foundation for suggesting areas in which the person could increase his or her frequency of behavior. This is from the normative perspective that the more frequently one engages in the 30 leadership behaviors (indeed, any one of them), the person will be more effective. While coaching advice for any one individual compared to another will vary, what doesn’t vary is the question “what can you do to become an even better leader in the future than you are today?” Because there aren’t any behaviors on the LPI that an individual cannot do, if he/she wanted to, thought it was important to do, remembered to do, felt more comfortable and skillful at doing, and so on. The LPI is not a test.
Barry Posner, Ph.D., is the Accolti Endowed Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, where he served as Dean for 12 years. Together with Jim Kouzes, he is author of over 30 books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including the just released fully-revised and updated sixth edition of the international bestseller, The Leadership Challenge, and Learning Leadership, selected by Strategy+Business as one of the 2016 Best Business Books of Year.