The 6 best FREE leadership self-assessment tools: updated

These FREE leadership self-assessment tools will help you assess your strengths and areas for development as a manager and a leader.

I’ve spent hours trawling the web and have explored hundreds of free tools, these are the best!

They are reviewed and ranked based on 3 criteria:
  1. The reputation of the provider
  2. Their ease of use
  3. The value of the feedback

Like any self-assessment tool, the value is primarily in the opportunity for self-reflection.

The questions and the assessment report can provide the starting point: for reflection, personal insight and development planning.

To get the best from using these free leadership self-assessment tools, I recommend you answer using the full range of responses available in the questionnaire. (Don’t always score yourself using one column, or just the central columns, be willing to use the full range of responses.)

All these self-assessments take just a few minutes to complete.

More time should be set aside for considering the implications and developing an action plan based on the results.

As you do so, consider seeking feedback as part of your development planning too.

Our top 3 FREE leadership self-assessment tools

These 3 tools are not ranked, they are all useful. You should select the appropriate tool depending on your development needs and preferences (see our ‘next steps’ below).

The Trust Quotient Assessment

From Trusted Advisor Associates (established by the authors of The Trusted Advisor). The Trust Equation is the foundation of this assessment.

To complete the assessment, you’re required to provide your email and demographics. The results are all in the browser upon completion of the assessment. (There’s a prompt to pay for the full report, if you wish.)

The free report clearly defines your areas of strength, areas of opportunity and provides ‘what you can do next’ guidance on how to improve in each area. There are also links to further reading.

IMD Global Leader Index

From the leading independent business school, IMD.

To complete the assessment, you’re required to open an account (simple to do) and complete the profiling information.

The questionnaire has an easy-to-use drag and drop format. Results are provided both in the browser and as a downloadable PDF. However, there is more information in the browser than in the PDF, so be willing to stay with it and explore.

And it’s important to note, your results are reported relative to everyone else who has completed the survey. A figure of ‘60’, for example, means that your result is the same or higher than 60% of the people at your level in the Global Leader Index (higher scores are better!).

You will also see which competencies are your strongest within each global leadership capability, and which are your weakest.

Results are structured around the following 4 topics:

  1. Strategic leadership
  2. Execution leadership
  3. Stakeholder leadership
  4. Personal leadership

There is not much in terms of ‘what next’ advice, however the result categories are sufficiently specific that it’s quite easy to reflect on how to improve in each specific area.

NHS Leadership Framework Self-Assessment Tool 

A surprise entry into the top 3, this free leadership self-assessment tool is from the UK National Health Service. It’s a downloadable PDF, a little ‘low tech’ but printing a hardcopy does have the benefit of providing plenty of opportunity for reflection.

The leadership framework on which the tool is structured is robust and the questionnaire has well designed, thoughtful questions. One downside, there is a section of the framework ‘Service Delivery’ where you’ll need to ignore one reference to ‘patients’ and replace with customers. If you’re willing to make this adjustment you’ll find this is a useful tool based on a robust competency framework.

There is also a useful ‘next steps’ section with hints and tips on action planning.

3 Self-assessment tools that relate more to leadership style

These next 3 free leadership self-assessment tools focus less on core competencies of leadership, and more on defining your leadership style.

The leadership compass

This is also a PDF download, it helps you assess your dominant decision-making style. It’s quick and simple to use. The value is primarily in reflecting on the ‘Styles Taken to Excess’ page and whether you exhibit any of those characteristics (and if so, cultivating the awareness and seeing the development opportunity).

Your Leadership Legacy

Another self-assessment based on a book: Your Leadership Legacy. This self-assessment all happens in the browser. The report defines your leadership style as one of the following:

  • Ambassador
  • Advocate
  • People Mover
  • Truth-Seeker
  • Creative builder
  • Experienced guide

You must stay in the browser to read about the different leadership styles. Useful food-for-thought but no clear ‘what next’ advice.

USC Leadership Styles

Another business school, this time USC (University of Southern California). Again, it all happens in the browser and no demographic information required (you have to provide your email at the end, to get the results).

The questions are interesting, more abstract in nature. I found them quite difficult to answer, but they may resonate with you.

The report defines your leadership style as one of the following:

  1. Servant leader
  2. Front-Line
  3. Transformational
  4. Metamodern
  5. Postmodern
  6. Contrarian

And as a result of completing the assessment I received an ‘Identify your leadership style ebook’.

One notable disappointment

As mentioned, I explored hundreds of free tools and there’s a lot of rubbish out there.

The 6 tools above are the best FREE tools that I found.

I also want to mention on notable disappointment.

How effective a leader are you?

From Harvard Business Review and administered by Zenger Folkman Assessments.

This self-assessment allows you to compare the way you’ve rated yourself with similar self-scores of 45,000 leaders in their global database.

Unfortunately, the interface is a bit clunky, the steps required are not entirely clear and there’s little value in the report.

You might want to jump directly to this is the companion article: Making yourself indispensable.

An alternative: The Johari Window

The Johari Window is not a proprietary tool. You can Google it, or check-out this Johari Window post for more. It’s a great self-development tool, that can be used by leaders for their own development as well as providing a basis for conversations with team members.

FREE leadership self-assessment tools: next steps

To get most value from using these tools, make sure you:

  1. Evaluate the models that underpin the tools (For example: the Trust Equation, the Leadership Compass, or the competency framework that the tool uses)
  2. Consider whether you’d prefer to work with a PDF or in the browser (different tools have different formats)
  3. Select the most appropriate tool for you
  4. Complete the questionnaire using the full range of responses available
  5. Allow time for reflection and action planning based on the results

Or, make a small investment in yourself

Take a look at these self-assessment tools that require a small investment.