Ask an Expert January 2019

Ask an Expert

Q: I was caught off-guard during a recent workshop when I was openly challenged to explain what my qualifications were for interpreting what a leader’s score meant. Has this happened to others? How did you respond?

A: The truth is, regardless of my three decades of working with the LPI®, I actually have no qualifications to accurately interpret any score outside of the frequency rating it was given. For example, say the leader received a score of 7. While I can’t really assess exactly what the Observer meant by this rating, I can say that from the rater’s point of view the leader was seen as visibly demonstrating the behavior fairly often.

As coaches and facilitators, we always need to be cautious about trying to add meaning to any given score. Remember, our role is to help guide leaders in understanding and making sense out of the scores they receive—not to interpret them.

That said, when your qualifications are questioned, you can establish your credibility in a number of ways:
  • Share your deep experiences with the instrument itself. 

  • Speak to the number of people with whom you have worked or coached who have received feedback. 

  • Describe your training in the LPI and your coaching experience (citing the number of years you’ve been working with the instrument)—all of which qualifies you to ask thoughtful and relevant questions to help leaders come to their own conclusions. 

  • Explain that all of your training and coaching experience also qualifies you to listen to the interpretations leaders have of their scores and offer guidance when they are jumping too quickly to judgment, or as I like to say, “making stuff up,” that might not be real. 

  • If you have received a formal designation from The Leadership Challenge—e.g. Trained Facilitator, Trained Coach, Certified Facilitator, Certified Master—be sure to play it up! Share your completion certificate upon request and the requirements associated with that achievement. Use the logo associated with your designation in your email signature, LinkedIn Profile, and website. If you do not have your certificate or logo, please contact the Certified Master or Global Training Partner from which you received your training. Learn more about our formal designations. 
Finally, keep reinforcing that the LPI is a frequency measurement, not a quality or effectiveness measuring tool. Recipients often assign higher scores as good and lower scores as bad (“I got a 4 on that question, so people are saying I am bad at it!”). If you get trapped into agreeing, you may be contributing to their misinterpretation of the feedback. Stay in the role of a good coach or guide, and out of the realm of a clinical psychologist, who might be more equipped to interpret many of a person’s life mysteries!


Steve Coats,
Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®, is managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For over 30 years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers around the world in leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. He can be reached at stevec@i-lead.com.

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