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Case Study: Leadership Assessment

Leadership Assessment for CEO Succession Planning

Psychological Assessment to Identify the Leadership Competencies of a CEO Successor

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This large, Australian, family-owned construction company experienced rapid growth despite a difficult economic environment. It expanded overseas with success and received business awards acknowledging its positive impact on local economies.  However, the company recognised that it had a succession planning issue with no immediate or obvious successor for the CEO, who was one of the founders of the organisation. The company approached Inspirational Workplaces to provide a leadership assessment to help identify and develop a successor with the appropriate leadership competencies.

Client Objectives

To ensure the continued growth, success, and sustainability of the organisation following the retirement of the CEO.


Our psychologist facilitated a series of discussions with the board and senior leadership team, which enabled them to identify an internal candidate as a possible successor. This candidate had many of the required leadership competencies; excellent technical knowledge, experience within the organisation, and the trust of the incumbent CEO. A risk was also identified that this valuable individual might leave the business if he was not selected as the next CEO. However, the candidate did lack some key competencies and experience required for success in the CEO role and the importance of a structured coaching and development program was highlighted.

We took the CEO candidate through a one-day, executive psychological assessment program. The day included a range of psychometric assessments as well as an extensive interview to determine his strengths, limitations, and overall potential to assume the CEO role. Based on our leadership assessment report, the decision was made to create a targeted succession plan for the CEO candidate. We identified his key development needs and designed a tailored coaching plan to develop specific interpersonal and leadership competencies. An internal mentorship program was organised to complement the coaching sessions with business-specific skills. Our psychologist worked personally with the CEO candidate over three years to develop his leadership skills.


The leadership assessment and development planning work enabled the CEO candidate to take ownership of his development needs; he was motivated to increase his effectiveness as a leader.  During the executive coaching program, the CEO candidate improved significantly on a range of leadership competencies.  He also reported increased job satisfaction and lower levels of stress as a result of being better able to work through people: he empowered them to work with more autonomy and greater performance.

The leadership assessment program overall:

  • improved the CEO candidate’s performance and leadership competencies in his current role
  • set him up for future success as the CEO
  • and provided the organisation with a clear, structured, and supported transition process.