How Executive Leadership
Assessment Leads to Better
Executive Talent Decisions

Since we launched Executive Leadership Assessments in early 2022, we have received very strong interest and engagements with our current global customers. Spearheaded by our practice leader Heather Wray and our team of assessors, Crenshaw’s practice has a combined 20+ years of implementing selection and succession assessment programs for leading corporations.

CHRO’s and heads of talent are increasingly interested in a more data driven and rigorous process to evaluate talent and potential successors. ELAs combine interviews with cognitive and behavioral assessments to provide a comprehensive, 360 review of the executive.

Here are two quotes regarding recent engagements:

“I had certain inclinations, but this work made the changes we needed to make crystal clear.”

“This is the most in depth leadership assessment and IDP process we have ever conducted.”

Below we explore a recent use case of a customer using ELA’s in their succession planning.

A data-driven process that yields insights into leaders’ capabilities, motivation and fit

You’ve seen the articles and may have lived the reality: an executive hire or senior promotion is always a critical decision for a company and a significant milestone. The wrong decision or lack of support is an organizational distraction and has a huge opportunity cost.

However, despite the importance of these decisions, we still see companies relying on selection processes that involve subjectivity and gut feeling, which makes hiring decisions vulnerable to biases. But this is changing. Due to the high-stakes nature of senior talent decisions, we are seeing increased interest in a more rigorous, data-driven selection assessment that produces insights to help organizations make better senior-level talent decisions.

Why Companies Use Executive Leadership Selection and Succession Assessments

Here are three specific situations where Crenshaw’s Executive Leadership Assessments (ELAs) have great value:

  1. Selection. The word “selection” typically implies bringing in outside candidates for a senior role but can also include considering an internal candidate. After a thorough recruiting, interviewing, and vetting process, a company may use ELA to better understand the leadership behaviors and styles of the final few candidates.
  2. Succession. Companies that want to develop a robust pipeline of internal candidates for senior positions may wonder, “What do we have?” and “How will they contribute in the next seat?” This can lead to assessing the potential of emerging leaders further down the leadership pipeline.Historically, companies have been effective at assessing performance by reviewing internal data sources and through regular performance reviews. But many organizations fall into the trap of believing that current performance equates to future potential. Extensive research shows this isn’t true and savvy organizations are increasingly exploring how to predict future performance from their emerging talent. For effective succession planning, organizations are seeking tools and methods to help better assess the future potential of their leadership pipeline.
  3. Development. For leaders with identified potential, organizations want insights that will help focus each person’s specific development activities to best prepare them for the future. This involves utilizing the leader’s key strengths, identifying areas for development, and ensuring that their motivations and career goals are nurtured.

Crenshaw has determined that all three situations deserve a more rigorous process that begins with a needs assessment with key stakeholder input, which is then combined with interviews and candidate assessment data.  This work builds on our years of experience with the most senior executives and leading corporations and is led by our assessment experts, Ph.D.’s, coaches, and advisors.

How Crenshaw’s Executive Leadership Assessments Work (ELAs)

Our engagements and work are all powered by data and led by experts to accelerate performance and productivity. The first step in Crenshaw’s ELA process is a thorough needs assessment. This requires reviewing the business model, strategic plan and challenges, the vision for the organization, and the culture (
). Here, we assist in determining the critical competencies required for organizational leadership moving forward. Every candidate is assessed based on the strategic business needs as well as role-specific responsibilities and success factors.

The next step in the assessment is a rigorous one-on-one, behavior-based interview that identifies the executive’s motivation, career goals, personal leadership style, and own view of their strengths and development areas.

In addition to the structured interview, candidates complete a series of reliable, empirically supported tools that provide insights into leadership traits, resilience, style, motivation, thinking style, and problem-solving abilities. The data is then interpreted through the lens of the business’s needs and the demands of the role being filled.

Assessment insights from the interview and the instruments are then summarized in a comprehensive report about each candidate; this report is shared with the hiring manager, the appropriate HR partner, and key stakeholders. The insights delve into the candidate’s capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, motivation, development needs, fit based on the organization’s strategic needs, and potential.

Case Study – Preparing for C-Level Succession



ELA Process Funnel

A $7B luxury goods company was interested in improving its succession and development process for C-level transitions. Four possible successors had been identified for the CFO role, projected to be needed in 2-3 years. Each candidate brought different strengths and experiences to the table.

Crenshaw initiated an Executive Leadership Assessment program to first identify the future leadership competencies that will be needed in the CFO role. This was done through interviews with the sitting CFO and HR leader. Each succession candidate was then interviewed and took the ELA battery of tests. This provided rich behavioral and cognitive data, in addition to self-assessment and personal aspiration input provided by the participants.


All of this information was evaluated relative to the future needs of the CFO role. The findings were reviewed with the participants, and then presented along with a highly customized development plan to the internal team.

The CHRO reported that this is the most in depth leadership assessment and IDP process they’ve ever conducted, and that the observations were spot on.

Using ELA’s

The ELA process and the assessment report are tools that provide data-driven, reliable, judgment-informed insights to help organizations make better talent decisions that result in positive business impact.

These tools don’t exist in a vacuum. Companies use the ELA tools in close partnership with Crenshaw to identify the best leaders for specific roles and determine the support and/or development that might be required for each individual to enhance the probability of a good hire. This process also supports effective onboarding, successful promotion, and individual development plans (IDPs).

Companies are becoming much more thoughtful, sophisticated, and data-driven in their selection, succession, and development. Organizations are using ELA to assess new leaders for the right fit  – choosing those that will integrate well and can be developed to deliver on long-term goals and contribute to the company’s longevity – or to bring in new talent to diversify and adapt to changing environments.

To learn about how Crenshaw’s Executive Leadership Assessment can benefit your organization, contact us here.