Using LPI to Assess Employee Promotions

Steve Houchin

Q: How do I use the Leadership Practices Inventory assessment instrument in determining employee promotions?

A: Having been a Director of Human Resources for a large corporation for several years, I understand the challenge of promotional decisions and the desire to have a "tool" to assist the process. However, the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) was developed and has been used as a personal development tool-and, specifically, not for recruiting or promotional decisions. In fact, to protect the credibility and integrity of the instrument, we only provide LPI results to the individual receiving personal feedback. It is then up to each individual to determine with whom the results should be shared. Only with an employee's permission have we provided a copy of LPI results to a boss or HR Manager.

If individual respondents thought LPI feedback would be used to determine who received job promotions and who did not, there is the likelihood that the results would be skewed either positively or negatively. In addition, speaking technically, while we can prove that people who practice the Five Practices more frequently produce better results than those who practice them less frequently, the LPI has not been validated as a selection or promotional tool.

I heartily endorse using demonstrated leadership competency in the promotability equation and would use job-related metrics to make that determination. Start with business results, which are consistently higher under good leadership. Then look at the credibility of the managers in question: How trustworthy are they? Do they consistently do what they say they will do? Do they treat people with dignity and respect, especially direct reports? Are their direct reports energized by a clear, uplifting vision of what they are striving to be and achieve? Are other people drawn to work with a particular manager or working to get a transfer? How is turnover, and what is being said in exit interviews? Do these managers provide promising folks to the rest of the organization?

These are examples of what is measurable, if you invest the time to look. Most 360-degree tools that I am familiar with are designed to help managers recognize their strengths and opportunities for improvement in the areas I've mentioned above. What managers do with the feedback, over time, will either enhance or limit their promotability.

Steve Houchin, owner and Managing Partner of International Leadership Associates, has presented the Leadership Challenge Workshop® to mid-level and senior executives in corporations around the country for over 15 years. He can be reached at shouchin@i-lead.com.

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