Testing Leaders

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Definition:

A task or set of responsibilities you ask a potential leader to complete in order to assess their organizing skills

Key Principles

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Leadership testing is important because:

  • We want to win. We need to be confident that people taking on important leadership roles have the skills and qualities that will allow them to successfully fulfill leadership expectations. With strong leaders, we can build strong Councils and take powerful action to win concrete changes in people's lives.
  • Leadership testing develops stronger leaders. Leadership testing is a way to support people by setting them up to succeed and holding them accountable to their commitments. It shows that we are taking them and the organizing seriously.

Other key elements include:

  • Test potential leaders before asking them to step into a leadership role. As soon as we identify someone who has some of the qualities in the LEADERSS framework we evaluate that person's leadership skills and make sure that she or he can commit to our campaign goals. If we ask people to take on leadership roles without knowing their skills or capacity, we may be unintentionally setting them up for failure.
  • Leadership testing is a mutual and transparent process. Developing leadership is not something we do to others; but instead something we do with others. Make a leadership testing plan with the person being tested and let them know why it's important.
  • The leadership test should be related to the leadership role you want the person to take on. For example, for a potential Core member, you could ask the person to host the next Council organizing meeting or action. For a potential member of the Recruitment Core team, you could ask the person to call a list of Council members and invite them to the next event.
  • Keep it quick and simple. Assign one task at a time. Each task should take one to three days to complete. For example, if you are asking someone to host an organizing meeting, you might ask her to post the event in our online event system within 24 hours. A good follow-up test would be to ask her to organize a recruitment phone bank.
  • Set people up for success. Set up clear expectations for what successfully completing the task looks like, and make sure there is a clear timeline for when the task needs to be complete. Make sure that the potential leaders have everything they need to be successful. For example, if you are asking someone to make media calls for an action, you would give him a basic media training, practice making pitch calls using a sample script, and ensure that he has the contact info he needs for the specific outlets he is calling.
  • Evaluate and set next steps. Set up a time to debrief with the leader being tested as soon as the task is complete. This shows that you are taking the leader's role and responsibilities seriously. It also provides an opportunity to offer feedback—to identify key strengths and areas to improve. Make sure to ask them if they have feedback for you in terms of the support you provided as well. Before finishing the debrief, set up a next-steps plan. This could be asking them to step into a leadership role (Core member or recruitment coordinator), but if they aren't quite ready, that's OK. Make a plan to continue developing their leadership skills.

How To

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  • Identify the leader.
  • Determine the tasks you want them to complete.
  • Set them up for success.
  • Check in on the progress of the task.
  • Evaluate their work.


Take-Aways

 

  • 1. Leadership testing is a mutual and transparent process.

 

  • 2. The leadership test should be related to the leadership role you want the person to take on.

 

  • 3. Set people up for success and make sure there is a clear timeline for when the task needs to be complete.