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Online Assessments in Leadership Coaching

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“The wild west.” Those of us who have been involved in the field of leadership coaching for the last 20 years have often heard or used this phrase applied to the field of coaching. Fortunately, leadership coaching has followed a similar developmental path to many nascent professions. At Table Mountain Consulting Group (Table Mountain), we have not heard this phrase applied to coaching as frequently as in years past. This is due to the professionalization of coaching through global independent credentialing bodies such as the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), as well as regional bodies such as the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). Of these organizations, ICF is arguably the most well-known and as such, has the biggest influence on the field of leadership coaching.

Coach Credentialing Bodies and Assessments

An interesting development in coach credentialing has been the stance taken toward the use of assessment tools to support leadership coaching. While organizations such as ICF support the use of self- and 360 assessments in service of leadership coaching, certification or qualification on assessment instruments is not part of the requirement to be credentialed as a coach. This is due in part to the breadth of the coaching field, ranging from life coaching to executive leadership coaching. Coaching professionals focused on leadership coaching in the context of organizational life are much more likely to include the use of assessment instruments.

Assessment for Development

There’s a body of research supporting the use of assessment for development. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) started out as the research-based think tank in the 1950s, focused on the study of leadership in an organizational context. After years of research, CCL turned that research into practice in 1970, when it pioneered the use of assessment for development in leadership development programs. Business psychologists have been using assessments for decades in support of coaching and development. Top ranked executive education programs around the world include assessment instruments as part of leadership coaching. When looking at where money is applied across a leadership coaching engagement, it is fairly typical to see about 40 percent of the spend allocated to the assessment phase of a leadership coaching engagement. A thorough assessment process on the front end provides useful information about a leader’s current performance and make-up, making it possible to chart a clear course toward a desired future state. As the saying goes, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are.

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