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Perspectives from the Waterfront: Assessment and Coaching

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“The Truth is out there.”  –The X Files

We’re all probably looking for the Truth in some version or form, seeking the bottom-line, top-level, last word on subjects we care about.  We want to understand, to know with certainty, the meaning and nuance of leadership, our relationships, about our skills and talents.  We look for this certainty because we want to make the “right choices” and take the “right actions.”  But that certainty often leads to blindness because it mistakes certainty for correctness.

In seeking the Truth, we often find more effective targets in creating grounded opinions.  In this effort, we often find that assessments can be a good thing. An assessment adds data points for our consideration. Depending on how valid and reliable an assessment is in measuring its stated domain, it enables a (more) trustworthy perspective and understanding. In turn, this allows us to make more informed decisions.

Importantly, assessments don’t offer the Truth; rather, they offer the client (and coach) a lens through which to view the measured area of interest. The client has the personal responsibility to assess the data and interpretations, discuss with their coach, reflect on and make sense of what the data mean to them, the draw their conclusions and make their choices accordingly.  Assessments can act as effective guides to action when weighed carefully.

Part of “assessing the assessment” is to remember that each is designed to focus on a particular domain of interest – values, personality, intelligence or leadership, for example. There is underlying theory and narrative, and often extensive research, to support the construction of the assessment. From a psychometric perspective, the more rigorous the process of demonstrating the predictive relationship between items and core constructs, often indicated by the correlation coefficient and degree of statistical significance, the greater the variance that is accounted for by the assessment.

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