When I’m talking with people about leadership and organizational development, here are the tools I find myself recommending most often. I am totally not an expert: these recommendations come from the perspective of being a client / end user.
The Myers-Briggs is probably the best-known and most-used personality test — it gives people a good basic vocabulary for talking about style and preferences. This online version is free, reasonably in-depth, and gives an instant, good-quality result.
We’re each the hero of our own story, and the PMAI archetype assessment tells you what kind of hero you believe yourself to be. I found the PMAI surprisingly good: it’s helped me better understand other people’s default tendencies as well as my own, which helps me calibrate what I’m hearing from people. This version is not free, but it’s instant and the report is good.
I’ve found the Adizes corporate lifecycle framework super-useful, particularly in helping me recognize signs of organizations that are in decline. The Adizes books and consultants are good too.
Paul Hersey/Ken Blanchard’s situational leadership theory gives managers a structured way to think about what managerial style (e.g., directing, coaching, delegating) fits a particular situation. Not a test or assessment, just a model for thinking. Especially good for new managers.
This D1-D5 decisionmaking style tool gives managers a structured way to figure out how much to involve other people in their decisionmaking. Not a test or assessment, just a model for thinking. Especially good for new managers.
For teams that are having trouble figuring out how much structure and process they need, this change style indicator assessment tool can help them identify their individual base preferences and give them language for talking about it. Not free, not instant; requires a trained facilitator.
I have mixed feelings about 360 feedback tools. The basic concept –that it’s worth collecting input from everyone: bosses, peers, direct reports and other stakeholders– is great. But all the tools I’ve used, including this one from the Leadership Circle, are time-intensive and seem overly complex. Not free, not instant, requires a trained facilitator. Getting a good facilitator is the most important part of running a successful 360.
The FIRO-B is a simple test that can be useful for encouraging self-awareness and mutual understanding, and especially for resolving intra-group irritations. Tells you how much people want and express inclusion, control and affection. I’ve never found a free/instant version: this one is paid, and administered by a consultant.
When you want to make some kind of change or launch a new project, Kurt Lewin’s force field analysis framework gives a simple structure for thinking through how much opposition you’re likely to face, its sources, and your chances for success. Not a tool or a test, just a model for thinking. Read it once and you’ll incorporate it into your thinking forever.
Edgar Schein’s career anchors framework is helpful for understanding other people’s motivations and strengths, as well as your own. Not a test or assessment tool, just a way to think. Schein’s books are good too, especially Organizational Culture and Leadership.