The Science Behind the PLI Self-Assessment

U.K. based firm, Real World Group, has developed an exceptional senior leader self-assessment called the Performance Leader Identifier. At High Peaks Group, we use this incredible tool in our signature Peak Navigator Program to help leaders get a read on the critical leadership behaviors that are shown to impact business success. Too often, a leader is seen - and judged - through the lens of his or her qualifications, education, or competencies. However, the way a leader behaves is just as important as the qualifications they possess. What leaders do is critical to the business, but how they do it can make or break a culture, attract or repel top talent, create a collaborative or toxic workplace, or get people motivated or meh. The Performance Leader Identifier (PLI) is a tool that can identify those leaders that truly drive: employee engagement, increased performance, motivation, wellbeing, readiness for change, innovation, self-confidence, self-efficacy, and reduced stress - all of which are essential to your company, non-profit, or agency.

What are the right behaviors?

(C) Real World Group. The PLI measures leader behaviors shown to have an impact employee engagement.

(C) Real World Group. The PLI measures leader behaviors shown to have an impact employee engagement.

Managers who “get things done” while failing to engage and develop their people create huge costs and lost opportunities for their organizations. Toxic bosses create teams where motivation, commitment, innovation, and productivity are never be as high as they could be. They also create job-related stress, burnout, and ultimately turnover. At the very least, they waste the full potential of their people, and of the organization more widely.

Real World Group’s Performance Leader Identifier is a self-assessment tool that measures twelve dimensions of leadership behavior shown to have an impact on team effectiveness and business success. It’s designed to provide insight into the behaviors you frequently use to create superior, sustainable performance for your organization. It also shows which behaviors you use less often providing an opportunity build a learning plan for yourself that can get results.

Assessing behavior, not personality

Companies often apply self-assessments to help their leaders identify strengths and areas for development. However, many assessments, while “feeling” or “seeming” effective, often lack significant evidence of their validity. They can often be very popular, yet many decades old, not well researched, and not fit for purpose in today’s challenging environment. The assessments available from other test publishers that are genuinely effective focus primarily on assessing personality traits, sometimes mapped against the company’s leadership or competency framework.

The Performance Leader Identifier provides an effective and refreshingly different approach. It is a research-based diagnostic tool which directly assesses behaviors, values and attitudes, rather than personality traits. Individuals are assessed against Real World Group’s uniquely proven Engaging Transformational Leadership model, further researched and modified for self-assessment. It will help ensure that you have the critical foundations to maximize organizational performance as a senior leader.

The Performance Leader Identifier is based on contemporary research, conducted in today’s increasingly challenging and ever-changing world. It reflects the fact that the key to success in companies, non-profits, or agencies is releasing the potential, motivation, innovation, wellbeing, and engagement of those around you. It helps identify those leaders who distribute leadership responsibility, rather than hold on tight to their own power, create teams who are open to change, and lead across boundaries with integrity.

The foundational research, Engaging Transformational Leadership, was deliberately designed based on a diverse sample of leaders. This means that it is an inclusive model, and helps address one of the most insidious forms of discrimination in selection and assessment – unconscious bias, or being assessed against criteria that do not value the way that more diverse leaders may prefer to lead. You can read both academic and practitioner-focused articles about Engaging Transformational Leadership on the Real World Group site.

How it works…

As a well-designed self-assessment tool, the Performance Leader Identifier uses ipsative (or “forced-choice”) questions. Individual leaders are presented with 40 blocks of three statements, and they must decide which of the three is “most like them” and which is “least like them”. Given that all of the statements describe positive leadership behaviors, candidates have to be honest in their self-assessment to give themselves the best chance of accurately identifying and then improving the impact of their leadership behaviors. It is practically impossible to “skew” the results in an effective way to try and create a more favorable impression than is accurate.

The post-assessment report includes suggested discussion questions to help you explore in more depth. This enables you (and your accredited High Peaks Group coach) to discuss your leadership approach more fully, and the ways in which you enact (and could adapt) your leadership in practice.

For more information

To discuss using the PLI yourself, for your team, or in your company, non-profit, or agency please contact us at

Paul ThallnerComment