Ask An Expert March 2019

Ask an Expert

Q: How do you explain relative frequency? For example, item #26 on the LPI®, “Is clear about his/her philosophy of leadership” is often shown less frequently than item #11, “Follows through on the promises and commitments he/she makes”?

A: As you review more LPI® Feedback Reports, you will notice that some behaviors tend to be higher in frequency and some tend to be lower. In the example here, indeed, item #26, “Is clear about his/her philosophy of leadership” is often rated less frequently than item #11, “Follows through on the promises and commitments he/she makes”. What I see in the LPIs I review with leaders is that #11 tends to be in the highest 10 behaviors, while behavior 26 is a bit more likely to fall in the middle 10 behaviors. We might guess that this occurs because we are more likely to understand that following through on commitments is a more common understanding of what leaders do than having a leadership philosophy. (Indeed, many leaders have never really thought about what their leadership philosophy is.)

Another common pattern on the LPI is that item #14, “Treats others with dignity and respect” has a tendency to be the highest behavior and item #16, “Asks for feedback on how his/her actions affect others people’s performance” ranks the lowest of all 30 behaviors. Again, it’s common knowledge and practice to treat others with dignity and respect, but not as common a practice to ask for feedback.

Another way I like to utilize this concept of relative frequency is when a leader has very high scores. In the LPI® Coach Training, we learn of some behaviors that are foundational for leadership. One of these is behavior #1, “Sets the example of what is expected of others” which tends to be in the highest 10 behaviors. If a leader has scores of mostly 9s and 10s, there may be very little variance in scores. However, if behavior #1 is lower in the overall ranking, I would still recommend that a leader determine ways in which he or she could demonstrate this more frequently.  

As with any development tool, knowing the general pattern—like the relative frequency of items—is helpful, but you will find that each individual has different needs, background, and goals. Perhaps their role in the organization has an impact on the relative frequency of a behavior. The current organizational issues may require them to focus on leadership behaviors that are not typical for them, individually. In essence, we can understand the “typical” frequency of behaviors, but we have to be open to asking the leaders we coach what the behaviors, as well as what goals, are most meaningful to them.


Renee Harness is founder of Harness Leadership and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Her leadership journey has included helping leaders at Charles Schwab and Company, Roche Diagnostics and in her own consulting practice to fully engage those around them. Renee can be reached at renee@harnessleadership.com.

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