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The Women in Assessments

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Barbara Singer  ∙      Clients should use leadership assessments over time to level the playing field for women and other under represented groups of people at the top of the house, for example, 360 and 720 data show clearly in nearly every study that women are held to higher performance standard which shows their skills are usually rated significantly higher than men in group report with the exception of strategic conversations… when a company included 720 assessment in its succession management along with employee engagement and other metrics like financial performance , promotions tend to accelerate more women and underrepresented groups

Q: How do instruments work when there is resistance to reality?

Tricia Nadoff  ∙       We all have some resistance to reality and leaders undergoing 360 assessment processes are no different. Openness to 360 feedback depends on many factors. First and foremost, participants need to feel safe. If the participant feels they are at risk for ridicule or receiving any type of negative consequence then she/he is less likely to be open to feedback. Further, if the leader is overwhelmed and stressed that she/he is unlikely to have the bandwidth to take in the depth and breadth of 360 feedback. So when there is resistance, it’s important for the coach to explore these individual factors.

Each one of us is at varying states of readiness to hear or not hear many of the messages that can come through 360 assessments. Fortunately, almost all leaders can benefit from development across any number of behaviors or competencies. So while the leader may not be ready to take in feedback in one area of their assessment they will often indicate a lower level of resistance and a higher level of readiness for change in other aspects of their feedback.

Well-designed assessments can provide significant insights for an individual leader, and in the hands of a qualified, effective, motivated coach these insights can be revealed to the leader in ways that increase the leader’s self-awareness and stoke the fire of motivation for growth.


Some of the above instruments require extensive training and a certification to administer while others require less time. Some of the above assessments have existed for over 60 years for, example, Birkman 360 while others are new to the field like BankCode and Awareness2020. However, all have been statistically validated.

Some assessments relate to personality, some behavior and some for team building, etc. there is an instrument out there for all types of human capital query. I encourage you to take a look our e-book on assessment for master level corporate executive coaches for a description of some of the more widely used tools but I also encourage you to explore the new instruments which are being published as we learn more and more about human behavior and human science. The caution is to ensure that you engage a highly qualified individual for the interpretation and that you examine the reliability/ statistics for each instrument you select.

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