Developing Great Leaders- A Measured Approach

Developing Great Leaders- A Measured Approach

Adapted from a white paper by Robert J. Devine for CPP – The Myers-Briggs Company

Executive Leadership Assessment

Corporate America spends more than $10 billion every year on leadership training, but is it working? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. In the same way businesses report profit and loss every quarter, creating and maintaining good leadership can and should become a measurable, operational process. In today’s environment, no business should be without data and processes that identify the strengths and challenges of its leaders, or without the processes that help to develop the skill sets of those leaders.

Today processes, tools and coaching support exist that can incrementally and significantly improve performance. Leadership can be tricky to define across all situations, but organizations must go through the exercise of identifying and prioritizing what is important for their leadership team to excel. Great leaders are skilled in the following ten areas of leadership:

  1. Framing a vision, mission, company culture and strategy and then modeling the way towards the “right” kind of goals
  2. Developing and managing systems
  3. Setting expectations, priorities, and providing direction/guidance
  4. Delegating work and decisions (empowering)
  5. Communication
  6. Influencing through positive impact
  7. Cultivating an executive presence that has a positive impact on the organization
  8. Building and maintaining relationships in a trusting, safe and equitable environment for stakeholders, clients, staff and oneself
  9. Developing and retaining employees
  10. Developing themselves personally

The ten dimensions of great leadership must be considered against the backdrop of business performance objectives. Managers and leaders must be results-driven, and their efforts and priorities must be devoted to the development of leadership, interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving skills as applied to the needs of their specific business situation.

Managers and leaders need to maintain a flexible, situational approach to development and use of the leadership skills, adjusting their approach to the situation at hand, the individuals involved, and the time available. While enhancing their leadership skills, they should articulate their career objectives and understand the relationship and importance of their newly acquired leadership skills to where they are now and where they want to go.

It is important to note that the ten dimensions of great leadership do not include specific job-related competencies and expertise. It is assumed that over the course of their career, managers and developing leaders gradually acquire levels of technical know-how in areas such as internal operations, information management, computer use, accounting and finance, etc.


Now we know the “what” of great leadership, but what about the “how”? Comfort level and confidence with these factors can be improved on the job, but the process needs to be collaborative and continuous. The most effective and efficient methodology for engaging managers and leaders in continual learning and improvement has three basic phases, which can be arranged into a loop.

Phase Description
What?—the assessment phase Collect information, both explicit and implicit, and consider these data as a series of proposals about strength and style. Numerous assessments and products provide objective and valid information regarding this first phase.
So What?—considering what the assessment reveals Interpret, compare, and understand what the data are telling you; clarify the implications of the data in the light of business and career goals and objectives. Identify each proposal as favorable or unfavorable.
Now What?—learning the skill Individual managers and leaders, working with an objective and knowledgeable coach identify and articulate one or two action steps that will move them toward their performance improvement objectives.


During the “What” phase, the ten dimensions can be used to guide “what” data to collect. There is no evaluation at this stage; it is purely a data collection phase.

The “So What?” phase of the process needs to be a give-and-take conversation between the individual manager/leader and a coach. The descriptive “What?” proposals are considered for validity, accuracy, importance, relevance, and potential as being favorable or unfavorable against articulated business and career goals.

The conversation and plan developed in the “Now What?” phase need to be led primarily by the individual manager/leader. After considering their What?/So What? conclusions, the manager/leader formulates a concise plan for action.

Items in the action plan should be behavioral and measurable, and they should describe specific actions they will take that will lead to a change in behavior. You can select from many formal assessments to bring reliable and valid information to your leadership development programs. These products can provide an objective and standardized starting place for your development staff and managers/leaders in development.

Assessment matrices will vary depending on the needs within the environment. They will depend on the time available, the knowledge level of your developmental staff, and the content of leadership development programs you have already rolled out in your organization. One example of your assessment matrix might look like this:

Ten Dimensions Appropriate personality assessment(s) 360-degree feedback assessment Structured interviews Aptitude measures Other
Mission/Vision Primary Primary
Developing Systems Secondary Primary
Setting Expectations/priorities Primary Primary
Delegating Primary Primary
Communication Primary Primary
Influencing Primary Primary
Executive Presence Development Primary Primary Primary Secondary
Relationships & Trust Primary Primary
Employee Development & Retention Secondary Primary Primary
Personal Development Secondary Primary Secondary

Note: “Primary” designates the assessment device as a Primary source of “What?” information. “Secondary” refers to the assessment device as a Secondary source of information. Your matrix should reflect the building blocks or factors you have identified, and the assessments you plan to use. Make sure that each factor is picked up by at least two assessments.


Great leaders can be developed. Great leaders take charge and get things done. They take disciplined, organized action. They use their power and authority in measured ways, and they influence others using optimism and executive presence.

The first step in becoming a better leader is to solicit feedback from a variety of sources throughout the organization. Once the strengths and growth opportunities are clear, the manager/leader can work with a coach to determine how to improve in areas that require growth.

Do you want to know more about the leadership assessment process, executive coaching or leadership development? Interested in having Kimberly teach The Ten Dimensions of Great Leadership at your organization? Contact her via email at or by phone at (504) 261-1026.