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Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment (KFALP) – Tips for 2022

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When applying for leadership positions, you are more likely to be asked to participate in a series of aptitude and personality tests. This is because when it comes to recruitment, the stakes are much higher.

Employers need to feel confident in their hiring decisions and are increasingly turning to data analytics to help them select the right candidate.

If you are working towards management job roles, then you may come across the Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment – also known as the KFLPA.

This is a comprehensive assessment that allows firms to identify those who have leadership potential.

The data compiled is used to help employers understand how to spot those with leadership capabilities and those with the potential to develop in the future. It’s a tool designed to identify who a person may become, rather than placing people into specific job roles.

What Are the Seven Signposts of Leadership Potential?

For over 50 years, Korn Ferry has been analyzing data from professionals around the world.

This has helped them to compile the comprehensive KFLPA.

They have used this data to establish the ‘seven signposts of leadership potential’.

Let’s look at what these are:

  • Awareness. Is the applicant self-aware and can they identify their own strengths and weaknesses?
  • Capacity. Does the applicant have an aptitude for logic and reasoning?
  • Derailment risks. What are the risks that could prevent that applicant from failing to reach their potential?
  • Drivers. What are the applicant’s motivations and what is encouraging them to become a strong leader?
  • Experience. What experience do they have that is relevant to leadership positions?
  • Leadership traits. Do they have any specific traits that are characteristic of successful leaders?
  • Learning agility. Can they learn from their previous experiences and use this knowledge to improve performance?

Although this list is not exhaustive, the KFLPA uses these measures as an indicator of what an applicant may be able to achieve when it comes to leadership positions.

It is an effective tool because it can be used by employees throughout an organization rather than just mid-senior management positions. This is because it analyses their potential rather than their current capabilities.

Once the employer has conducted the Korn Ferry test and identified those with the capacity for progression, they can make effective use of further development and training plans.

Why Do Companies Use the Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment?

Korn Ferry specializes in working with Fortune 100 companies. The company is proud to work with 98% of the Fortune 100 to help clients find and develop talent.

Companies listed on the Fortune 100 include brands such as:

  • Walmart
  • Exxon Mobil
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • AT&T

‘The KFALP is designed to answer the question, “Who has the potential to take on higher-level, bigger leadership roles in the future?”’

Recruitment and retention can be hugely expensive for businesses. Therefore, firms need to be confident that they can make a substantial return on any investment that they make into recruiting and retaining employees.

Tools such as the Korn Ferry assessment can be used as a supplement to help a person progress along the career ladder.

The assessment is designed to work in three ways;

  • First, to allow employers to accurately identify workers with high potential.
  • Second, to give a complete view of that person’s capability regardless of their level of seniority within the company.
  • Third, to identify those with potential across the seven signposts which have been backed up by academic research.

The Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment is effective when working with applicants who may be headed towards their first leadership position or are within mid-level roles.

It is not designed for those who are working towards senior management and C-Suite executive positions.

What Is Assessed in the Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment?

The KFLPA uses the seven signposts as a starting point for the assessment. It breaks each section down into sub-dimensions, giving the employer a deeper understanding of who the applicant is and who they could be.

The sub-dimensions are as follows:

Drivers

  • Advancement drive. What are the core motivations that encourage you to aspire to leadership positions? This is assessed using an IRT rank of items that represent aspects of leadership drive.

  • Career planning. This is the only descriptive part of the test. It’s testing to establish if you have a narrow or broad career focus and/or any set career goals. Those who score highly will have described a specific focus of their career plans

  • Role preferences. This looks at what types of roles people prefer to work in.

Experience

  • Core experience (vertical). This counts the number of leadership roles the applicant has worked in for two years or more. It considers typical ‘day-to-day’ experience in working with people and collaborating with others.

  • Perspective (horizontal experience). This looks at the different types of experience that the candidate has had. For example, have they worked in different sectors, industries, countries? Can they take what they learned elsewhere and apply it in a new way?

  • Key challenges. This will look at ten distinct leadership challenges and the applicant will be asked to select which of these challenges they have experienced. These might include starting your own business, negotiating a significant business deal or contract, or significantly improving the profitability of a business.

Awareness

  • Self-awareness. This is about knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are. It is looking for applicants to show that they continually reassess their knowledge and that they can protect themselves against issues relating to derailment (failure to reach their capabilities).

  • Situational self-awareness. This is looking at whether you are aware of what your impact is on others and what impact others have on you. It’s about whether you can rely on intuitions and whether you can adapt and be flexible to changing situations.

Korn Ferry Leadership Potential
Korn Ferry Leadership Potential

Learning Agility

  • Mental agility. This is looking to see if you are good at problem-solving and whether you have a natural curiosity about issues and challenges faced by leaders daily. Can you spot trends and patterns and understand how this can impact a business?

  • People agility. Can you understand how to work with people and get the most out of others? Can you spot their needs and motivations and establish ways to influence them to work to the best of their abilities?

  • Change agility. Are you willing to embrace change and take risks? Are you happy to explore the possibilities of making new changes or do you prefer to stick to what you know?

  • Results agility. Are you capable of delivering expected results? Do you stick to attainable goals or do you push yourself and your team to achieve excellence beyond expectations?

Leadership Traits

  • Focus. Can you focus on the bigger picture and delegate the smaller details to others? Are you capable of letting go?

  • Persistence. Are you driven by your long-term goals? Can you remain persistent in your drive regardless of what obstacles are put in your way? This is about identifying those who are dedicated to achieving a specific vision or goal.

  • Tolerance of ambiguity. Can you cope in an uncertain world? Some people thrive on coping with the unexpected, whilst others need to work in consistent conditions that are unlikely to change.

  • Assertiveness. This is about being willing to take control of the situation. It’s about showing that you are comfortable taking charge and making tough decisions.

  • Optimism. How upbeat at you? Can you cope with setbacks and other challenges well? Are you generally a ‘glass-half-full’ type of person and can you move past previous disappointments easily?

Capacity

  • Problem-solving. Can you spot patterns and trends that could impact your business? Some people can identify new areas of development easily whereas others may find that their ability to use logic and reasoning is only possible when they are working in ‘quieter’ environments/sectors. This is looking to find those who can detect trends in new or ambiguous situations.

Derailment Risks

  • Volatile. Do you have a reputation for being volatile and easily provoked? Can you respond to changing situations in a calm and measured way, therefore building trust and confidence amongst colleagues?

  • Micromanaging. Can you trust your staff to focus on their tasks or do you need to be involved in every little step? Good leaders are those who can help people to work effectively without needing to focus on tiny details. It’s about trusting your ability to delegate key tasks.

  • Closed. Are you interested in other people’s opinions or do you tend to be dismissive? It’s about working flexibly and listening to others rather than being stubborn and only able to consider your viewpoints.

Example Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment Questions

Breaking it down, the Korn Ferry Leadership Assessment Test seeks to identify leaders who are self-aware, adaptable, inclusive, and fully engaged with their leadership style. So, what questions can you expect to answer in the assessment itself?

Let’s look at some of the most common types of questions you can expect to see. All are situational judgment tests. So, you’ll be given a written scenario, and then you must decide on the most effective response.

Example 1

Example Question

You hear an employee talking to a client about a refund. They are discussing the options for a refund when the employee snaps, “Well, you’re a day past the refund period, and that’s tough luck.” Staff are expected to be considerate at all times. However, the employee has been going through a difficult time.

How would you handle the situation?

a) Have a private conversation with them and ask them if anything is the matter while reminding them of the way customers should be handled.
b) Refrain from giving direct contact just now but keep an eye on things to see how they respond in the future.
c) Ask the employee to join you for a quick tea break to see if they’re ok and offer your support if needed.
d) Set up a formal meeting and outline why you are unhappy with their response and what they should do in the future, treating the situation as a verbal warning.

Example 2

You have just been promoted to warehouse manager, and you can see that the way items are stored is not the most productive. Some employees agree. However, others have very strong views on why the layout should not change. One of the warehouse operatives goes above you to complain to your line manager.

What would your reaction be in this situation?

a) You observe the criticism, discuss it with your line manager, yet choose to ignore it at this stage as any change is met with resistance.
b) You talk to the warehouse operative and say you felt disappointed that they went above you. You dismiss their feelings and continue to champion your idea.
c) You meet with the employee, take the time to listen to what they have to say, yet explain that bypassing you as a manager is unacceptable.
d) You understand that employee satisfaction is crucial, so you listen to the concerns of the individual and decide to implement only some changes.

Example 3

You have been vying for a seat at the Board for some time. You expected to be promoted this financial year. However, for a host of reasons, some of which have been explained to you and others not, your promotion will have to wait for the following year. You feel very deflated.

How would you respond to the news?

a) You respect those other factors beyond your control that have influenced the decision on your promotion and patiently wait for the future opportunity.
b) You write to the Board expressing your disappointment and reiterate why appointing you now is a better time.
c) You confidently ask another member of the Board for more clarity on the reasons behind the delay in your appointment and seek to rationalize the decision.
d) You take the decision negatively and decide to look for a new opportunity elsewhere.

Example 4

You can see that there are two people whose jobs are closely linked. One cannot do their job without the other. However, they are not working at the same pace. The Sales Consultant is generating lots of extra new business inquiries, yet the customer onboarding officer is not processing orders in time.

What would you do in this scenario?

a) You speak to each of the two employees individually to discover where the miscommunication and pressure points may be so that you can work out where extra resource may be needed.
b) You speak to the customer onboarding officer alone and express how important it is for them to pick up speed.
c) You do not speak to either employee. Instead, you leave it to them to resolve yet continue to observe the situation so that it does not escalate.
d) You move another employee from a different team to temporarily help onboard new customers without engaging the sales consultant and onboarding officer.

How Long Will It Take to Complete the Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment?

The leadership potential assessment should take approximately 40 minutes to complete. There may be some branching questions that allow you to skip ahead to alternative questions. There will also be other questions that rely on multiple answers.

How Is It Scored?

Scores are based on the ‘norms’ for target role levels and will be assessed against a percentile.

You will be allocated a position on a sliding scale, enabling employers to see at a glance how you performed.

Each sub-dimension has a ‘green’ score. This indicates an average range.

You will be expected to be within the ‘green’ threshold of the following sub-dimensions:

  • Drivers – Any two out of the three sub-dimensions
  • Experience – Any two out of the three sub-dimensions
  • Awareness – Both sub-dimensions
  • Learning agility – Any three out of the four sub-dimensions
  • Leadership traits – Any four out of the five sub-dimensions
  • Capacity – The sole sub-dimension
  • Derailment risks – None of them

This will allow employers to understand how to compare applicants against the typical ‘norms’ that are based on Korn Ferry’s decades of experience.

Following the assessment, employers will be provided with two distinct types of reports.

The first is an individual report which allows an applicant to see how they scored in each area. There will also be a chart that will show what your current leadership capability is, what your target should be and what your aspiration could be.

These results can be used to develop specific training plans to help that person progress in their career.

The second report is the unique ‘talent grid’. This allows employers to directly compare their employees by providing an ‘at a glance’ group of individuals and seeing a pattern of results.

Top Tips for Doing Well on the Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment

To help you in preparation for your Leadership Potential Assessment, here are a few practical tips:

Be Aware of the Different Types of Leadership

Leadership Potential Assessments are often used on employees who are about to embark on their first managerial roles. It’s important to be aware of the different types of leadership as this may inform your answers.

Some people aim to be individual contributors. Others want to be frontline managers or managers of managers. As you progress through the managerial hierarchy, roles and responsibilities differ greatly.

Know Your Career Goals

Within the career planning sub-dimension, the test is looking to establish what you want to achieve in your career.

Those who score highest are those who are certain about what they want to achieve and why.

Before you take the test, make sure you have it clear in your mind so that you can tailor your answers accordingly and generate a high score.

Be Self-Aware

Before the test, make sure you spend time considering your strengths and weaknesses.

The test will be looking to see whether you are aware of your own limitations and how you plan to overcome these. You should also think about your previous experience. What have you learned from previous roles and how can you use that experience in different ways?

Thinking of these answers before the test means that you can determine clearer answers which could gain you a higher score.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Korn Ferry leadership Assessment is a comprehensive test used to measure leadership potential. It is designed to measure a person’s awareness, capacity, derailment risks, drivers, leadership traits and learning agility.

This assessment is used by many Fortune 100 employers to identify individuals with the skills and abilities needed for career progression. These companies include well-known brands like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.

In 2021, Korn Ferry was recognized by Forbes Magazine as America’s best executive recruiting firm for the fifth consecutive year. Korn Ferry is considered to be one of the top professional search firms. As a global consulting firm, it operates in more than 50 countries, assisting organizations to align strategy, structure and talent.

Korn Ferry uses four dimensions to assess leadership and talent: competencies, experiences, traits and drivers. It describes competencies as the skills, abilities and behaviours an individual will need to achieve measurable success.

Think carefully about your career goals and aspirations before taking the Korn Ferry leadership assessment. Understanding your career objectives will help you to tailor your answers effectively and this will help you to achieve a higher score.

You should also spend time thinking about your strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of your limitations and how you might overcome them is an important factor in this assessment. Consider your past experiences and what you have learned as a result of these.

If you want to work through a comprehensive preparation package, JobTestPrep provides access to mock Korn Ferry assessments, explanations for each question and full-length timed practice tests.

The Korn Ferry battery covers a range of different assessments, including personality, numerical, verbal, abstract and aptitude (Talent-Q) tests. You may be asked to take an individual assessment or several different assessments at once. The Korn Ferry leadership assessment is a type of situational judgement test which takes approximately 40 minutes to complete.

To pass a leadership assessment test, it is important to have a clear understanding of the job role you are applying for. Make sure you know the main objectives, daily activities, key working relationships and general business culture.

Think about your own personality, making notes on the traits that might be useful in a leadership role – this might include being ambitious, willing to take charge and adaptable to change.

All of the answers you give should be centred on leadership personality traits, with examples of how you have used these in the past and how they might be helpful in the future. Completing practice leadership assessment tests is a good way to improve your confidence and time management.

To identify your leadership skills, you might consider asking work colleagues, leaders or mentors to give feedback on your key strengths within the workplace. This might be through informal conversations or a formal process such as a 360-degree appraisal.

If you do not want to rely on the opinions of other people, you could take an online leadership style quiz to find out more about your personality and suitability for leadership roles.

A leadership assessment is used to identify a person’s characteristics and suitability for a leadership or management role. The results of a leadership assessment can be used as part of an organization’s recruitment/selection process or to assist in making career development or succession planning decisions. Leadership assessments can help managers find the best leaders and recruit them into positions where they can thrive.

Final Thoughts

The data analysis and the history behind the Korn Ferry Leadership Potential Assessment mean that the data can be trusted by firms all around the world.

The assessment is an intense insight into an employee’s potential and whether they have the scope to reach the very top.

The assessment is designed to look beyond a person’s initial capabilities. Instead, it uses the seven signposts of potential to look ahead, and this is hugely beneficial for employers to develop distinct training programs for individual staff members.

The data gleaned through these assessments can help identify what an employee is capable of and direct new strategies to help them reach their full potential.

The inclusion of development priorities within the final report means that there is a tangible ROI on the assessment regardless of whether the applicant moves into a leadership role or not.

It helps to identify what their person’s ideal role is, which means that as an individual, they can also have some insights into their career path and make plans accordingly.

The strength of the assessment lies in the comprehensive nature of the test. It looks at many different facets of an applicant’s career history in great detail.

The vertical and horizontal look at an applicant’s experience means that firms can understand what that applicant brings to the table. The acknowledgment of derailment means that mitigation processes can be put into place to prevent people from failing to achieve their full capabilities.

Ultimately, the result is a happier and more motivated workforce who know that measures are in place to help them succeed.


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