Q: Is it appropriate for a researcher to use just the LPI-self appraisal given to the leader and to not use input from others about the leader? Has your research found this use of the instrument results to be valid and reliable, or does the current documentation only support the self in conjunction with the "other" questionnaires about a leader?
A: The Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) provides great feedback about how frequently an individual engages in the five key practices of exemplary leadership, and the 30 specific leadership behaviors associated with these practices. Numerous studies have documented strong empirical relationships between this frequency and other important variables, such as credibility, constituent satisfaction, productivity and commitment.
The impact of these associations is even more powerful when the responses are not simply self-perceptions but are validated by the perceptions provided by other people involved in the relationship (e.g., direct reports, peers, managers). Additional value-added feedback comes from learning about how closely one's own perceptions mirror those of the people around you. When only self-assessments are possible the respondent is left to wonder just how much his or her perception of behavior is in alignment with what other people see.
With data from other people (from the LPI Observer) is available, respondents get to see the comparison (and/or contrast) between their view of how they behave and what other people observe (and experience). Moreover, individuals get to learn how various constituent groups may be in alignment or not with how they perceive this individual to be behaving. Indeed, it is not unusual to find variation even within categories of respondent constituents.
Self scores vary from the scores received by constituents. What we're looking for, however, is not 100% agreement between the two, but rather how the "shape of the curve" or pattern of responses between leadership practices and/or specific leadership behaviors is similar or different and what sense the individual can draw from this data. In this regard, the respondent is transforming data into information, and determining what is meaningful and what may be challenging or even problematic.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend that respondents use 360-degree feedback whenever possible, meaning that they don't rely simply on their own assessments. From a normative viewpoint, we continue to find that whatever the individual's assessments are, that by engaging in the five practices more than they are currently doing today, they will become more effective leaders.