Using the Benchmarks® Assessment for Leadership Development

One of the assessments I use in leadership development is Benchmarks® from the Center for Creative Leadership. Benchmarks® is a 360° assessment that allows up to five groups to rate you on a number of leadership competencies. The typical groups selected include your boss, peers and direct reports. You, of course are able to assess yourself against the same group of questions.

Benchmarks® assesses major competencies required in leadership and management positions. Those areas include:

  • Strategic perspective
  • Being a quick study
  • Decisiveness
  • Change management
  • Leading employees
  • Confronting problem employees
  • Participative management
  • Building collaborative relationships
  • Compassion and sensitivity
  • Putting people at ease
  • Respect for differences
  • Taking initiative
  • Composure
  • Balance between personal and work life
  • Self-awareness
  • Career management

The assessment also identifies potential problems that can stall a career:

  • Problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Difficulty building and leading a team
  • Difficulty changing or adapting
  • Failure to meet business objectives
  • Too narrow a functional orientation

In the new version of Benchmarks®, participants are able to write in comments. Two questions are asked:

  1. What are this person’s most significant strengths? Please explain
  2. What are this person’s most significant areas for development? Please explain.

Benchmarks® Feedback

The Benchmarks® assessment is administered by a certified or qualified practitioner or consultant. You have the option to attend a session at the Center for Creative Leadership or you may opt to use a certified practitioner or consultant directly. In either case, you receive the same feedback information.

The amount of feedback information you receive is overwhelming. Your practitioner or consultant will help you:

  1. Interpret the feedback correctly
  2. Understand the broad implications
  3. Focus on what’s important
  4. Develop an action plan

What Makes Benchmarks® Valuable?

In your written feedback, there will be differences how others view your actions or behaviors vs. what you think.  Within the groups you selected to rate you, there will be differences in their perception because of the relationship they have with you.

For example, there may be wide differences in the responses between your direct reports and what your peer think. For one group you may meet all their needs, for another group you fail to live up to their standards.

It is important to focus on the top issues causing the most conflict or that are career limiting.

Another valuable indicator is how your boss rates areas they believe are most important to career progression. Your boss influences career upward mobility and being aligned with what they think is important will improve your relationship with them and the organization.

How Do You Take the Benchmarks® Assessment?

There are several ways to take Benchmarks® assessment:

  1. If your employer has a certified practitioner, uses outside consultants or sends participants to The Center for Creative Leadership, ask about taking the assessment. Be ready to explain why you want to take it and how it will benefit you and the organization.
  2. Work with an outside consultant to take the Benchmarks® assessment. Often this approach is more difficult because the assessment relies on having groups of people who want to give feedback.  There is a definite advantage to having the support of your organization.

For more information about taking the Benchmarks® assessment, contact me below.

How to introduce an assessment to the team

As a team leader, consider using assessments to give insight into how your team works and what kind of adjustments you or the team needs to make to be more effective.

However, the team members might be suspicious about what you are going to do with their assessment results. Members of the team may be thinking – are you going to use the assessment findings against them? Why do you need this information?

There is a right and wrong time to use assessment with your team. For example, if your team is uneasy when you introduce the topic, it is best to figure out what is causing their stress or distrust before proceeding.

Usually assessment uneasiness is caused by one of the following:

  • Team members may be guarded about their personal information. Each team member’s tolerance for letting other people into their personal space is different.
  • Some team members may not trust you with their assessment information.
  • Team members may trust you, but not each other.

While you may not be able to ease everyone’s fears about taking an assessment and sharing their results, here are a few ways to introduce the topic with your team.

  1. Have the assessment administrator come in and explain to the group what the assessment is, how the assessment is administered and what they can expect from the results. Let them ask questions to test their assumptions and alleviate some of their fears.
  2. As the team leader, explain why you are using the assessment and what will be done with the results.
  3. Establish that assessment results are private and everyone has the personal option to share them with the team.

You are probably thinking: Why would I go ahead with using an assessment if the team members have the option of sharing their information? What happens if someone decides they don’t  want to share their results!

The bottom line is that if someone is that dead set against sharing their results, you have two choices.

  1. Decide to postpone using the assessment and work on improving trust.
  2. Proceed with the assessment and recommend the team member that s/he will not be able to take part with the team during training where the results are broadly communicated or integrated.

While it may seem odd that you have to work on trust before using an assessment that is often used to increase trust in a group, the fact is some trust must exist. It is difficult to work with a team that is cautiously trustful. Use an experienced behavior trainer or expert and not a stand up trainer. The conversations and behavioral issues that will arise during the group work will need more expertise than someone who delivers canned training programs.

Using Strong Interest Inventory for Career Decisions

The Strong Interest Inventory is an assessment that I use with my career coaching clients, especially for career exploration and validation. The kinds of decisions you might be contemplating are:

  • Assessing your career choice – are you in the right field, company or role?
  • Thinking about moving into a new or second career
  • Identifying what might may be wrong about your job or career environment
  • Unfocused on what you want to do – you have too many options and want to narrow the choices down
  • Developing career choices
  • Making decisions on educational focus and investment

Often the Strong Interest Inventory is used for new high school or college graduates, however, there is a version that is applicable for the seasoned careerist. It is a two-part report including the Strong Interest Inventory Profile and Interpretive Report.

The Strong Interest Inventory Profile organizes your information around the following:

  1. General Occupation Themes describes your interests, work activities, potential skill and personal values in six areas.
  2. Basic Interest Scales are specific interest areas within the General Occupational Themes and identifies fields that would be motivating or rewarding for you.
  3. Occupational Scales compares your likes and dislikes as compared to others who are satisfied in the same occupation or job.
  4. Personal Style Scales describes your preferences on work style, learning, leadership, risk-taking and team work.
  5. Profile Summary provides a snapshot of your profile.
  6. Response Summary is the summary within each category of the Strong items.

The second report is the Interpretive Report. The reason I like to include the Interpretative Report you receive another cut of data detail and it summarizes your general interest patterns and how similar your answers are to the interests of workers in 120 occupations.

Here is an example of a Strong Interest Profile and Interpretive Report.

If you or someone else wants to receive the Strong Interest Inventory Profile and Interpretative Report to learn more about your career, start the process below. The fee includes your report and a one hour feedback in person, by phone or SKYPE with Lynn Dessert, Executive Career Coach. This fee is for US-based clients, international clients, contact me directly.

Once I receive payment, the process takes about 3 weeks until you receive the full report. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

The HBDI Question Series: Part 1

Do you have questions about the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI)? This HBDI series answer some of the basics about the HBDI assessment, the process, interpretation and what the benefits are if you take the HBDI.

What is the HBDI?

The HBDI is an assessment that measure thinking preferences. Your thinking preferences are not based in psychology, your HBDI preferences are tied to your physiological makeup – more specifically your brain.

What are the major components of the HBDI model?

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is often referred to as the Whole Brain Model. It is an easy model to grasp at the macro level; however there are layers of interpretation that are not obvious.

There are four quadrants:

  • A or Blue Quadrant
  • B or Green Quadrant
  • C or Red Quadrant
  • D or Yellow Quadrant

Fundamentally, the A & B quadrants represent the left side of the brain and the C & D quadrants the right side of the brain.

There are certain characteristics of each quadrant and depending on your level of preference (low to very high); you will have different scores in each quadrant.

The characteristics of each quadrant are:

A Quadrant

  • Logic
  • Technical
  • Financial
  • Factual
  • Quantitative

B Quadrant

Whole Brain Model by Herrmann International

  • Organized
  • Detailed
  • Structured
  • Low risk
  • Planned

C Quadrant

  • Emotional
  • Feeling
  • Spiritual
  • Kinesthetic
  • Sensory

D Quadrant

  • Spatial
  • Holistic
  • Intuitive
  • Innovative
  • Conceptual
  • Risk taker

What kind of information do you get when you take the HBDI?

After you take the assessment, you will receive your unique HBDI profile. Your HBDI profile consists of a profile score, profile preference code and adjective pairs (stress profile). There are accompanying materials that help to explain:

  • The background of HBDI
  • How to read your HBDI profile step by step
  • How to compare your HBDI profile to others
  • Ways to explore your HBDI profile with ideas and exercises

The HBDI profile information may overwhelm you the first time you review it. An HBDI certified practitioner will explain your results and provide an accurate interpretation of your unique HBDI profile. If something doesn’t make sense, ask questions!

Is the HBDI a simple assessment?

Clients like the layout of the four quadrant HBDI model – it is easy to understand however, the HBDI becomes more complex when you put it into action. Often there is confusion identifying some activities or behaviors in the proper quadrant. To be honest, it takes practice to learn how to identify the preferences for each quadrant and that is one of the benefits of working with an HBDI certified practitioner and reading this HBDI question series.

Is the HBDI free?

Certified HBDI practitioners are able to purchase the assessment materials and have access to the online HBDI assessment center. It is unlikely you will be able to find the HBDI being offered for free on the internet.

Why do HBDI Practitioners require a feedback session?

It is understandable that you might want to get your HBDI results sent to you and move on. Take a moment to reconsider your options, If you are going to pay for the assessment, you are entitled to get the maximum value from what the assessment tells you.

Certified HBDI practitioners take specific training and are approved by HBDI to interpret your results and help you get the most out of your personal investment.

Where can you take the HBDI?

Any certified HBDI practitioner can administer the assessment. Your company may offer the HBDI with team or leadership development. Find out more about receiving HBDI results with Lynn Dessert here, either as an individual, group, or company.

The HBDI Question Series: Part 2 will ask some of the tougher questions you may have with interpreting your own HBDI results.

Familiar with Psychometric Assessments? Take the Survey

5 Minute Survey on Psychometric Assessments

I have a special request from a couple of assessment experts (details below) who are conducting research on psychometric assessments to measure the awareness and usage of certain psychometric instruments.

The five minute survey will help them tremendously (no personal information collected), click on the following link to take the survey today!

Survey ends on Thursday, September 20, 2011.

Please share this article via any of the social media links below with other assessment users who you believe could aid in furthering the research.

Survey Researchers and Results

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO Herrmann International, Inc. and Mark Schar, Ph.D. at the Center for Design Research, Stanford University are conducting a survey on business and academic psychometric assessments.

The results of the survey will be shared at the upcoming conference on NeuroLeadership on November 8-10 in San Francisco. The session is entitled The Neurobiology of Leadership Assessments.

5 Reasons Your Assessment Results Might be Wrong

I use assessments in a lot of the work I do with team development, individual leadership and career coaching. Why? It gives you a baseline of information about yourself and your group. You learn about different personality or behavioral styles which influence how well you communicate and work together. It helps to identify the areas for you to develop and can pinpoint what is limiting you from reaching your goals more quickly.

Once in a while, someone thinks their assessment feedback is inaccurate or are dissatisfied with their results. There are a number of reasons why that might be, so consider if any of the following situations apply:

  1. The assessment was not valid or reliable. A poorly designed assessment or one that has not gone through the rigor of testing is more likely to deliver false results. It is tempting to go for those free assessments, just understand that free comes at a price – the lack of solid data, feedback or follow up.
  2. The person giving you the feedback was not qualified or certified to deliver assessment results. The majority of assessments that deliver accurate feedback require the coach or other trainer professional to have specific training in interpreting and delivering assessment results. While you may believe that the written report is enough or that someone can interpret a graph without training, it is not as easy as it looks. There are often subtle clues or interpretations that trained professionals can pinpoint that may hone into an area that is not covered in a general written debrief.
  3. You tried to outsmart the assessment or you did not take it seriously. If you take the assessment to try and beat it or you were so bored you just checked any box, you have already lost. One of the instructions you receive from a qualified assessment practitioner is to answer the questions without trying to over-think them. Do not answer them the way you want to be or the way you think someone wants you to be – just be you. Well engineered assessments use the information you have given them to provide you insights into who you are or how others might perceive you.  The quality of the information you provide will directly affect what you receive back.
  4. Your scores on the cusp of another assessment category, quadrant or description. This is not an unusual situation. When you receive back your scores, you may find that your assessment profile or assessment results are close to another indicator – it might be another quadrant, descriptor or element. The best assessment products provide you with data points to show a range of where you stand within their scales and you can visually see that you are close to another indicator. Trained, certified and qualified assessment professionals will encourage you to explore the areas where you are close, so that you can determine if the alternative profile or description more accurately describes you better.
  5. The assessment really does describe you, but you don’t want to believe it. I have had a few people swear to me that their assessment profile does not accurately describe them, yet if we are in a group, the other people will resoundingly say “yes, it does”. Take this opportunity to share your assessment results with people who are close to you – your wife, significant other, family members or other friends. Ask them for their perception without trying to sway them. It can be difficult to accept our limitations or to embrace our own quirkiness.

Ultimately, your feedback is your own. You can choose to use it, redo it or ignore it. You may also decide to take other assessments which measure similar or different attributes to see if there is a correlation between the data, information and feedback you are receiving.

Finally, do not underestimate the value of using an excellent qualified or certified coach or practitioner, ideally someone with extensive experience. He or she can help you find answers more quickly and apply what you learn to your everyday life. That’s priceless.

Interested in researching assessments in general? Visit or see the assessments I use with my clients.

Research assessments and resources at is a new niche portal dedicated to helping you find information on assessments – product reviews and locate resources to assist in the administration or interpretation of assessments.

I am making the May 2011 Assessment Update available on Elephants at Work.

Progress: In Motion

Since the inception of I have made slow but steady progress.

To date, I have contacted approximately 75 publishers asking them to participate by submitting their assessment products directly. There has been a mixed response – not surprisingly.

Why? It takes time and it might not be their number one priority. I am asking people to rate and provide feedback on their products which might make them feel uneasy. I find this interesting since assessments are about providing feedback! While the concept is familiar with many of us, it is breakthrough thinking to assessment publishers.

So, I am rolling up my sleeves to keep providing you with content by submitting basic information on assessments one by one. Publishers who want a more active role on their assessments can contact me and I will give them access to their publisher profile and assessment product information.

New Assessment Products

The following assessments have been added to

Leadership Skills Test
Supervisory Skills Test
Management Training Needs Analysis
Employee Opinion Survey
Training Needs Assessment Test
Team Development Skills Assessment
Leadership Effectiveness Profile

Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
Strong Interest Inventory

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®

Western Psychology Services
Workplace Skills Survey
Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scales
Stress Profile
Geist Picture Interest Inventory
Self-Directed Search
Customer Service Aptitude Profile
Sales Achievement Predictor

LMAP 360

Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence
Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Test
Job Stress Survey
Career Thoughts Inventory
Career Attitudes and Strategies Inventory
Employee Assistance Program Inventory®
Career Decision Scale

DiSC® Classic Facilitation System

What you can do today

Each of the assessments above links to the product information and reviews. If you have experience any of the assessment products, we would like your feedback. Simply click on Create your Review at the assessment product page – an active account is required – either with a subscriber (free) or practitioner (fee based) membership. Find out more about membership information here.

Forward this email to anyone who is familiar or interested in assessment products. You do not have to be a subscriber on to receive this newsletter. To initiate your subscription, simply sign up on the right hand side of this page or by using this link: Sign up for our free Assessment Update newsletter!

Finally, if you are aware of assessment products that have not been added to, feel free to contact me directly. Any publisher can submit their assessments directly by establishing a publisher membership account.