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Talent Assessment | 8 Min Read

Leadership Development Framework: A New Model for New-Age Leadership


Leadership is a key element of management function, primarily involving offering guidance, inspiration and devising strategies to drive team performance and organizational growth. However, leadership is multi-faceted and often encompasses confusing definitions. There is no scarcity of literature on the subject – there are countless books, numerous seminars and traini ng material on improving leadership. They posit that there are more than 50 disciplines around leadership. But how do you identify the most suitable from the lot is the question.

Amid such varied nuances and complexities, leading is but a formidable task. Whether you are a CEO or a frontline leader, irrespective of your standing, such complexities raise several pertinent questions, such as:

  • How do I develop my team?
  • How can we set the right goals?
  • Why is our culture changing?
  • How do I formulate a turnaround strategy for an underperforming unit?
  • How to tackle employee engagement challenges?
  • What conflict resolution activities can we undertake to empower our employees?
  • What are the best ways to foster innovation while maintaining service standards and maximizing performance?

These are some of the many questions that constantly consume leaders. So how do you go about them? Wouldn’t it be great to have answers to them? There’s nothing better than finding definitive answers to help you drive organizational growth, simplify your leadership and enrich your company culture. What if a functional framework could work wonders for leaders and organizations? What if it could help you gain a new perspective on leadership?

Well, that’s what this article aims to offer. It would provide you with an in-depth understanding of a unique, extensive and practical leadership framework. Let’s first understand what we mean when we say, ‘leadership development framework.’


What is a leadership development framework?

The leadership development framework is a support structure that can guide and enforce the development of leadership capabilities required to face current and future challenges. The framework comprises principles that outline practices that are crucial for defining, simplifying and encouraging leadership at all levels. It supports managers’ career progression and development at all levels, from frontline to middle and executive management.

The framework lays down consistent and practical standards for managers, enabling them to address day-to-day challenges and fulfill the expectations of clients, colleagues and communities in the changing landscape of the global market. In a nutshell, it is a model that assists business leaders in developing future leaders within an organization and deeply impacts succession planning.

Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio, asserts, “The central idea on which the entire leadership development framework is built is developing leaders within an organization. The framework addresses the individual’s leadership skills and a more overall approach to turning people into leaders. They do this through self-learning and training, and the specific methods used vary from company to company”.


History of the leadership development framework


It is impossible to accurately trace the origin or development of the framework; it is, at best, nebulous as multiple events led to its development. Jonathan Tian, Co-Founder, Mobitrix.com, asserts, “If we talk about the ancient periods, the word leader would not be used at all. There were kings or mythological people who would make or break the rules. The words leader and leadership have been used since the start of 1900. Since then, several researchers have tried to increase the effectiveness of leaders through improving qualities. The leadership development framework has germinated from that thinking”.


How to plan an impactful leadership development framework

Leaders play a critical role in all areas of an organization. Yet, many companies fail to recognize the importance of implementing a leadership development framework in offering their employees a roadmap for leadership roles. Creating a framework for them provides a way to develop the skills and competencies they need to climb the corporate ladder and excel in their career. This framework can also yield other significant benefits, such as maximized efficiencies, higher employee morale and a creativity-and-innovation-focused approach. It also strengthens their association with the organization by helping them understand how their work adds value to the business outcomes.

Listed below is a stepwise approach that outlines the ways to structure a leadership development framework:

Begin with the end in mind:

Begin by keeping the end in mind to achieve a clear vision of your desired direction and objective. In addition, some self-introspection would always come handy, such as: what is the end goal for a leader? What are the qualities they must possess to be successful in your line of business? Is the company culture conducive to helping attain such goals?

Designing a practical competency framework:

A leadership competency framework aggregates crucial competencies for success in a specific leadership position. It helps enhance the leader’s performance, and ultimately organizational performance by imparting an understanding of the skills, behaviors and knowledge needed to be competent and relevant in this fast-changing business landscape.

In addition, the competency framework provides insights into leadership development and succession planning initiatives by focusing strenuously on what needs to be measured. Finally, since it hinges on leadership competencies that substantially impact a leader’s job performance and business outcomes, it provides a structure and balance to processes concerning selection, performance management, development and growth.

Design initiatives around the framework:

Once you have identified the essential competencies, you can line up leadership and development programs that will address the development needs in your organization. By gathering the necessary information and analyzing the current situation, you can build curricula that align with the final goal or outcome that you wish to achieve from the entire process.

Plan and conduct assessments:

Assessments can play a pivotal role in assessing leadership competencies and uncovering key strengths, such as emotional intelligence, change management, performance management, analytical skills, strategic planning, etc. Conducting assessments can bring to light the motivating factors, areas for progress and limitations and provide insights into a person’s leadership style. The data-backed assessment approach can weed out potential traps in an individual’s path to becoming a more capable and successful leader.

Assessment of results:

The assessment of results is instrumental in measuring a leadership development program’s success and impact.

You can consider the following aspects to ascertain the magnitude of the outcomes:

  • The number of participants who completed the program
  • The number of participants considered for promotion after the program’s completion
  • Whether the employees have been endowed with more leadership responsibilities
  • What's the common sentiment among peers concerning the program’s potential in imparting leadership qualities?
  • Have employees developed leadership skills that will help enhance their efficiency in their current roles?

Competent business leaders need not necessarily be well-versed in the subtleties of knowing how the organization works, but they do understand how all its components work. So, you must nudge employees in your leadership development program to push their potential further by undertaking projects over and above their KPIs. This will compel them to think afresh, beyond their comfort zones. Acquiring abilities to adapt and thrive in unforeseen situations is yet another measure of success.

Moreover, proper feedback channels should allow participants to have meaningful conversations and share their ideas and thoughts.


Why is there a need for a new leadership development framework

Due to continual business changes, predicting how leaders will adapt and perform in the future is becoming more challenging for organizations. This can be attributed to the growing scope of the current role, which is more complex and dynamic. Existing frameworks are not well-equipped to compensate for the new business reality. As a result, they fall short in accurately presenting whether individuals can push themselves or expand their skills to adapt to future demands.

Leaders need to have a prompt response to unforeseen situations such as COVID-19. Therefore, it is critical to have a leadership development framework model that assesses whether your staff members possess the problem-solving abilities required as currently needed.

Zach Reece
Owner, Colony Roofers

Vinay Amin, Eu Natural’s founder and brand President, believes it is critical to reassess your existing leadership development framework model to determine if it is still applicable in a post-COVID world. He poses a relevant question by asking business owners to analyze whether the new framework considers disrupting factors like a pandemic or national civil unrest. He suggests that the leadership development framework needs to assess one’s ability to respond to various worst-case scenarios.


What are the prerequisites to designing a leadership development framework?

Re-designing or adopting a new leadership development framework model impresses the need to seek help from trusted Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), such as psychologists or HR practitioners. These SMEs assist businesses by suggesting the best possible solution after understanding the business requirements. In addition, they are experts in streamlining the leadership development strategy. Therefore, one must consider the following aspects while designing an assessment framework:


designing an assessment framework


The L&D department states the organization’s requirements and sets the context for analysis by the SMEs. Then, the experts discuss to outline the plausible outcomes and their business impact.

Evidence gathering:

The second step involves gauging the impact of the leadership framework by making a qualitative comparison between the ‘before and after.’ The analysis depicts changes across the leadership and organizational levels.

Report generation:

The assessment reports must depict various work-relevant personality traits that influence on-the-job performance. In addition, the report must contain a summary, strengths, weaknesses, response style and areas of development.


Mercer | Mettl’s Leadership Development Framework: Re-defining Leadership Assessment Practices

We at Mercer | Mettl understand organizations’ leadership development strategies and goals. Hence, we have curated a simple and comprehensive leadership competency framework based on extensive research to help organizations tide over leadership challenges they might be grappling with in a post-pandemic world. Leaders globally can learn how to address their challenges using this unique framework. The leadership journey is more like embarking on a self-awareness course, and the leadership framework can be like a dependable guide for that journey.

Let’s discuss the framework in more detail:

Mercer | Mettl’s leadership competency framework enumerates the competencies and behaviors considered integral to the development of leaders for challenging, next-level roles. This framework is empirically derived and conceptualized for its utility in identifying a holistic leadership profile and desired leadership styles.

This leadership framework lays the groundwork for several leadership assessment tools that are most effective for assessing, selecting, developing, promoting and retaining leadership. This framework comprises the following tools in its armory: Mercer| Mettl Personality Map, Critical Thinking Assessment, Abstract Reasoning Assessment and Leadership Styles Survey. Every competency featured in this model explains the most sought-after traits to help leaders succeed and drive growth.

The framework’s core competencies have been segregated into four meta-competencies, which are further divided into ten sub-competencies:

Lead by example Learning orientation, Resilience
Build high-performing teamsDeveloping team, Fostering diversity & collaboration
Accelerate innovation and change Fostering innovation, Navigating ambiguity, Change management
Lead businessStrategic thinking, Leveraging networks, Critical decision-making

Let’s first discuss why these meta-competencies have been included in the framework.




Lead by example: Great leaders build great organizations, and to become a great leader, one must walk the talk. This helps a leader become a role model and a source of inspiration for others and create a more significant impact.

Key behavioral indicatorsA tendency to seek to learn new things, Being open to feedback, Staying focused in the face of adversity and effectively managing one's emotions.


Build high-performing teams: Great leaders develop high-performing teams because a brilliant strategy can fail if a leader cannot form a team to implement the same successfully.

Key behavioral indicatorsA tendency to promote diversity and collaboration and develop team members by coaching and mentoring them to help them grow, develop and become future leaders.


Accelerate innovation and change: Innovative mindset helps the leaders stay ahead of the curve and relevant. Also, leaders need to navigate change and its related complex issues smoothly.

Key behavioral indicatorsThe ability to think innovatively and always work toward building a culture of experimentation, Demonstrating an ability to manage change to ensure the organization stays relevant with changing times.


Lead business: This is the most desired leadership competency and includes strategy formulation and effective execution. It also includes leveraging networks and making critical decisions effectively.

Key behavioral indicatorsThe ability to set a vision for the future, The ability to work across boundaries to develop a strategic relationship, The ability to make critical decisions to adapt and handle the challenges of the new-age business world to lead the organization successfully.

Here’s a detailed overview of the sub-competencies featured in the framework:


1. Learning orientation: Leaders with learning orientation will internalize a learning mindset and constantly seek learning opportunities. In addition, they are always open to feedback and reflect on past experiences to learn from successes and failures.


2. Resilience: Resilient individuals are more likely to remain focused in the face of adversity and uncertainty. They also demonstrate the ability to manage difficult situations by managing emotions and self.


3. Developing team: Individuals who believe in teamwork tend to focus on team members’ professional growth by identifying their strengths and areas of development. They constantly seek ways to create learning opportunities for the team members and mentor them to achieve their developmental goals.


4. Fostering diversity and collaboration: Leaders who focus on diversity and a collaborative approach are well-versed with the importance of diversity and inclusion to successfully lead a team of diverse individuals. They will demonstrate a tendency to build a collaborative and inclusive team culture and leverage diversity to work effectively.


5. Fostering innovation: Effective leaders can step up and help their teams innovate. They approach issues differently, think out-of-the-box and strive for constant innovation. In addition, they demonstrate a tendency to foster a culture that encourages people to innovate by experimentation and fail fast with new ideas and share their learnings across the organization.


6. Navigating ambiguity: Leaders who lead through ambiguity seem better at handling ambiguous or unpredictable situations comfortably and are more likely to demonstrate the ability to manage one’s work even without having all the necessary details.


7. Change management: Effective leaders can communicate the need and the rationale for change and ensure that all stakeholders are comfortable with it. They also tend to simplify processes, minimize complexities or reduce their impact and smoothen the change process.


8. Strategic thinking: Strategic leaders think long term, take a broader perspective and build a shared vision with others. Then, they formulate strategies to achieve the organization’s vision and focus their energy and resources effectively executing their strategy.


9. Leveraging networks: Leaders with strong networks tend to build alliances across boundaries to build social capital and effectively leverage it to achieve common goals.


10. Critical decision-making: Leaders with critical decision-making ability can solve problems and make critical decisions after analyzing all available data and presenting logical conclusions based on evidence and logical relationship.


Mercer | Mettl’s Leadership Styles Framework

There are various ways in which leaders can oversee their team members’ or employees’ performance. A leadership style signifies characteristic behaviors of leaders that manifest when administering, guiding, motivating and managing teams. Mercer |Mettl’s leadership Styles Framework divides leadership styles into four buckets. While these buckets need not necessarily be enclosing the subtleties concerning a given manager/leader, they provide a good overview, highlighting the general tendencies of individuals segregated within these buckets.

Depending on the situation, any of these four styles could work for a given job. Conversely, any of these four styles could be invalid for a particular position if misused. Aligning the most suitable leadership style with the right situation is an exercise that every leader should undertake with reasonable care and caution. This framework can help leaders develop the right approach to leadership.

Let’s give you a run-down on each of the four styles included within this framework:

Leadership styles Explanation
Directive A tendency to direct one's subordinates concerning their responsibilities and specify the standards and deadlines for the team.
Consultative A tendency to consult one's subordinates concerning their responsibilities and then finalize the goals for the team.
Participative A tendency to discuss and analyze problems with subordinates and make decisions after consensus from all subordinates.
Delegative A tendency to explain the problem/issues to the subordinates, sharing one's suggestion but allowing the associates to decide the final course of action.

Role of online assessments in leadership development


Leadership assessments are a surefire way to determine whether an individual’s caliber, interest and abilities align with the job requirements. Most importantly, they provide leaders with insights into what they did well and where they faltered, helping them understand their style and pave the growth trajectory. The results of the assessments can help address areas of improvement, which can significantly improve teamwork and communication, strategic and critical thinking skills, the ability to delegate tasks effectively, etc. In addition, leadership tests that focus on assessing personality traits can help leaders demystify crucial competencies – a must-have for improving productivity and achieving organizational goals.

Online assessment tools can help determine how an individual might fit into a specific function in an organization based on the role requirements. For example, it’s vital to possess Emotional Intelligence, Intelligence Quotient (IQ), and technical skills as a leader. Moreover, the ability to deal with situations involving criticism, pressure and failure has taken precedence. Hence, online tests help assess leadership competencies across domains and produce measurable outcomes.


tool competency matrix


Unleash the power of a cutting-edge leadership personality assessment tool: Mercer | Mettl Personality Map


Leveraging over eight years of experience in providing state-of-the-art leadership development strategies and solutions for varied talent assessments to Indian and global organizations, Mercer | Mettl pioneered a new personality assessment tool specifically catering to organizational needs. This new tool is an amalgamation of rigorous and evidence-based psychological science and industry-relevant, client-focused applications.

Mercer | Mettl Personality Map (MPM) is a contemporary, evidence-based personality assessment that assesses critical job-focused personality traits and behavioral inclinations. It can be implemented across employees’ life cycles, from personnel selection to training and development and help employers gain access to otherwise inaccessible information about a person, critical in influencing their behavior at work.


The science behind Mercer | Mettl Personality Map (MPM)


MPM measures 28 work-relevant personality traits. Our team of psychometricians went beyond the well-established ‘Big Five’ Model of personality, which uses five factors or broad personality trait categories to describe people. MPM does not discard the old model of personality but goes beyond it. It measures personality via unique and innovative 28 facets that are mapped to the organization’s or job roles’ specific performance models or behavioral competencies to optimally predict job success.

An essential tool in the leadership development strategy, MPM can help identify an individual’s relative strengths or weaknesses within a job setting. Information about such intrapersonal and interpersonal variables interfering with one’s desired performance would help organizations design the most effective training programs. Therefore, we recommend using MPM along with other measures to achieve the best results in this setting.

The assessment is more comprehensive and in-depth and measures new-age traits, especially relevant to higher-order competencies. Therefore, using this measure to assess senior-level employees would benefit.

In addition to MPM, Mercer | Mettl also offers various other powerful tools for leadership assessment. They include:


tools for leadersgip development


Mercer | Mettl Test for Critical Thinking (MTCT) is a tool for assessing critical thinking ability. Critical thinking is defined as recognizing problems and solving them efficiently by critically analyzing the given information to identify assumptions, draw inferences and evaluate arguments. The MTCT evaluates the critical thinking ability of a participant across various important roles at all job levels across industries. Therefore, this assessment can be used in hiring and learning and development setting.

Mercer | Mettl Test for Abstract Reasoning (MTAR) is a tool for assessing the abstract reasoning ability of candidates employed across industries for various job roles. Abstract reasoning is defined as applying learnings to solve novel problems by connecting different information points to grasp the bigger picture, detecting patterns and relationships and solving complex problems by devising innovative solutions. This test can be used in both recruitment and development settings.

Mercer| Mettl leadership styles survey is an online psychometric tool that evaluates leaders’ behavioral patterns to influence their behaviors. It implies the approach leaders undertake to assist their subordinates and motivate them to meet the performance targets.



There have been considerable advancements in HR tech in the past few years. Identifying and honing leaders using age-old practices no longer yield desirable results. Organizations need agile, reliable and practical leadership development frameworks to assess whether their leaders possess the grit to face the dynamic world. Moreover, they must continually gauge new tools and technologies and recreate their leadership development programs to stay ahead of the competition.

Originally published July 29 2020, Updated December 13 2021

Written by

Abhilash works with the Content Marketing team of Mercer|Mettl. He has been contributing his bit to the world of online business for some years now. Abhilash is experienced in content marketing, along with SEO. He’s fond of writing useful posts, helping people, traveling, and savoring delicacies.

About This Topic

A leadership assessment is a type of personality test used to identify and develop the competencies required in a good leader - decision-making, empathy, communication, inspiring others, etc. A leadership test can contribute to organizational planning initiatives, such as promotion decisions, succession planning, etc.

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