Leadership Development Assessment That Moves Learning Forward

By Mike Vaughan - February 24, 2018

There are three assessment techniques leadership consulting companies use during simulation training that can be used to determine participants’ progress throughout the experiential learning process. In this post, I’ll discuss each technique and how it is used to provide feedback in specific areas along the leadership development process.  

Cognitive analysis examines a business simulation participant’s application of the Core Abilities and Value Skills. Using Responsive Modeling behind a simulation, we assess participants and give feedback in such areas as:

  •  Jumping: When participants are hesitant, they typically jump between strategies. They hold on to one strategy until another presents some glimpse of hope, and then they shift their energy.
  •   Guessing: When participants are overwhelmed by difficult problems or too much information (noise), they may start guessing in hopes that something may work.
  •   Fixating: When participants don’t take the time to understand the big picture, they fixate on solving one problem and unknowingly create new problems.
  •   Reacting: When participants are determined to win or make quick improvements, they make decisions that produce good results in the short term but create bigger issues in the long term.
  •   Filtering: When individuals or teams make decisions, it becomes apparent which informational elements are used and which are overlooked or not internalized due to lazy thinking.

Another leadership development assessment technique used in learning and development training is mode analysis. Mode analysis investigates which parts of the brain (modes) an employee relies on most, or the personality style she exhibits during difficult situations. Modes define how learners process information, communicate, relate with others, and make decisions. During a simulation training, participants adapt to progressively more difficult scenarios, often in relation to other people, requiring them to use a variety of brain functions and personality styles. When participants are placed into difficult situations, their real styles often surface.

Behavioral analysis is a leadership development assessment technique that looks beyond mode analysis to a participant’s reactions to an array of environmental factors. In mode analysis, facilitators give feedback based on preferred styles and how those styles influence team dynamics. A behavioral analysis, by contrast, provides feedback based on the participant’s reaction to complications. For example, did the individual melt down when confronted with difficult issues? Did he pull himself together in a thoughtful and constructive way, or did he consciously or subconsciously affect the team? Due to recent innovations, behavior analysis integrated into simulations is now being used in organizations to assess leadership and management capabilities and readiness.

What is helpful about these leadership development assessment techniques is that business simulation participants are not evaluated on what they know, but on how they think and behave in varying circumstances. The feedback generated from these techniques offers many lenses into employees’ habits, strengths, and potential chinks in their armor.

Michael Vaughan is the CEO of The Regis Company, a global provider of custom business simulations and experiential learning programs. Michael is the author of the books The Thinking Effect: Rethinking Thinking to Create Great Leaders and the New Value Worker and The End of Training: How Business Simulations Are Reshaping Business.


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