As a person matures in leadership, their measures of success transition from being based on their technical ability and the tasks they perform, to focusing on their ability to set direction, inspire and delegate. For many, it is a hard won transition, particularly around their ability to put faith in their staff and peers, and delegate confidently and comfortably.

But how do you measure delegation skills? For senior positions it is crucial to know whether your preferred candidates are masters of delegation or micro managers. It is a difficult trait to elicit in interview, and referee reports are not always accurate.

Another challenge for HR is how to foster delegation skills in Leadership Programs aimed at the very staff who are measured and rewarded for technical ability and task performance. Most emerging leaders are identified as top prospects because they excel at performing specific tasks. Their competence in these areas has been the fuel to their success; but when promoted, they are expected to cease doing the very tasks for which they have been rewarded. Some adapt easily, but many do not. Stressful environments or stressful periods may further challenge even consummate delegators.

Should we use an Assessment given the recent bad press?

One way to determine the tendency of a person to delegate well is through a Job-Specific Behavioural Assessments to profile candidates for middle and senior management positions, and in Leadership Development Programs. Assessments have had bad press recently, and in many cases this is deserved. For example:

  • Myers Briggs MBTI was never intended to be used for recruitment or specific job-based trait performance identification. In fact there is little valid empirical evidence showing MBTI’s value.
  • Aptitude tests show only tenuous links between the competency being measured and how the person will operate in their role.
  • Most assessments measure personality only, and not other traits that equally determine whether a person will perform.
  • And most assessments are not focused on the requirements of a particular role or job – they are generic in nature with inferences being drawn from the general results.

Our Approach

Our preference is an assessment tool that is Job Specific – that is, from the 175 traits measured, those that are necessary for the job are selected (both Essential and Desirable traits), and a Job Fit is determined only from those. It means that the results are specific and accurate, without the need to interpret or draw inferences from the results for the particular job.

Just to reinforce this point, it is important to understand a Job Specific Assessment is not the same as a general personality assessment. The difference is that a Job Specific Assessment focuses on the behaviors related to the critical skills required for a specific job, whereas general personality assessment is very broad and lacks the specific job context.

Looking at Delegation

Let’s return to Delegation, which is a mix personality and skill, highlights the value of job personality assessments in leadership development. Our preferred Job Specific Assessment is Harrison Assessments. Delegation is not only measured directly (and is called Authoritative Collaboration), but its major components are also identified – Authoritative – willingness to make decisions when they are required, and Collaborative – willingness to work with others.


From this graphical depiction of Delegation, you can see that this candidate is very comfortable with Delegation, as is shown by the circle in the top right hand quadrant of the graph. The person will always be very comfortable making the necessary decisions when delegating, and at most times will collaborate easily and well. However, under stress, shown by the little brown-red tornado in the top left hand quadrant, when under stress, they are likely to flip to an Authoritarian style of behaviour, fall back to their old role and do the tasks themselves.

In similar ways we can look at complimentary behaviours to get a complete picture of how a person will work with their staff – are they risk takers, do they show warmth and empathy, is their communication style balanced or too frank or too diplomatic, will the person focus on relationships or performance?

Deep Insights

Not only is this style of deep insight into a person’s preferred behavioural style essential:

  • in recruitment, for professional and management positions particularly
  • in planning development plans for staff
  • in Leadership Development programs for targeted development opportunities
  • for personal self awareness which regularly brings shifts behaviour simply through that awareness.

By calculating the personality traits when someone is at a point of calm and at a point of stress, Harrison Assessments provide managers and employees the behavioral awareness and self-awareness they need to improve their ability even when under stress.

Learn More

To learn more about the Harrison Assessment and its Paradox Technology, click here to contact us. We are Harrison Assessment Solution Partners, Expert Interpreters and Accredited Trainers. Talk to us about introducing Harrison Assessments into your organisation.

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