What data do you have to support the value of the LPI?

Instruments such as the LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory® must meet rigorous criteria for psychometric testing (unlike internally developed competency surveys). And because of its demonstrated psychometric properties—including its strong reliability and validity—academics and researchers, educators and practitioners are confident in using this assessment to further understand what it takes to be an effective leader.

More than 5 million leaders and observers have completed the LPI since it first was used in 1985. And every year more than 400,000 new LPI users contribute to ongoing research and analysis that continues to affirm its strong reliability—meaning the instrument actually measures what it claims to measure. It also continues to affirm that responses can differentiate among low, average, and high performers, establishing its strong validity.

Today, the LPI is one of the most widely used and trusted 360-degree leadership assessment instruments in the world, in part, because of the rigorousness of the research behind its creation and continuous analysis.

With 30+ years of research by the authors and creators of The Leadership Challenge®, plus over 700 additional studies conducted by scholars and academics around the world, there is a wealth of empirical support for the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® framework and for the LPI assessment. In the seminal report, Bringing the Rigor of Research to the Art of Leadership, author and scholar Barry Z. Posner provides an overview of the development and validation of both the model and the LPI, including research findings that demonstrate:


Researchers have reported sound levels of internal reliability (i.e., consistency) in their studies across a wide range of sample populations, representing a variety of occupations and organizations: reliabilities range from .93 to .95 for public high school teachers; .88 to .95 for project managers; and .73 to .90 for healthcare managers.

In addition, test-retest reliability has consistently been strong, generally at the .90 level and above. For example, LPI scores from participants in The Leadership Challenge® Workshop have been analyzed every two years since 1987 and demonstrate considerable consistency across The Five Practices for each time-period comparison.


Researchers using non-English language versions of the LPI—including Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic—have reported strong internal reliabilities. One researcher, who used a Mongolian language version to assess the leadership practices of leaders in higher education, concluded that “There are no statements that directly reflect American cultural values that could potentially confuse respondents from other nations.”

Analyzing data across a wide range of settings—from school principals to healthcare administrators, elected officials in Guam to Hong Kong staff nurses—LPI scores have been found to be independent of various demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, years of experience, educational level) and organizational features (e.g., size, functional area, length of service, line versus staff position).

The very latest LPI research continues to reaffirm that how leaders behave contributes significantly more to employee engagement than who they are. In fact, only a mere 0.3% can be attributed to all demographic variables—combined


Most critical to leadership development professionals, perhaps, is the question of predictive validity: whether LPI scores are related in any significant way to other performance measures or outcomes on both an individual and organizational level. And according to analysis conducted by The Leadership Challenge authors and researchers, Barry Posner and Jim Kouzes, “studies have shown that leadership scores are consistently associated with important aspects of managerial and organizational effectiveness such as workgroup performance, team cohesiveness, commitment, satisfaction, and credibility.” In addition, one independent reviewer of the LPI also concluded: “The conceptual scheme on which the LPI is based is elegant, and the test items on the LPI have excellent face validity as well as psychometric validity. Factor analyses and multiple regressions provide strong support for both the structural and concurrent validity of the LPI.”

Respondents to the LPI® 360 online are offered the opportunity to answer a question about the overall effectiveness of their leader in terms of how frequently the leader is seen using The Five Practices. This makes it possible to compare responses from direct reports who ‘strongly agree’ that their leader is effective with direct reports who do not strongly agree. And comparative analysis reveals that leaders who are reported as most effective by their direct reports are also seen as engaging significantly more often in The Five Practices than those who view their leader as less effective. Continued studies of the LPI also confirm the relationship between The Five Practices and a variety of measurable outcomes such as job satisfaction, employee commitment, and sales performance.

How Does the LPI Compare?

Several meta-reviews of leadership development instruments have been conducted. And the LPI is consistently rated among the best leadership instruments, regardless of the criteria. For example, in one assessment of 18 different leadership instruments, the LPI was the only one to receive the top score in psychometric soundness and ease of use.

Studies conducted by authors Barry Posner and Jim Kouzes—along with those from scores of other researchers and comparisons with other leadership instruments—have all shown the LPI to be robust in assessing individuals’ leadership capabilities, and demonstrating that The Five Practices do make a difference at the personal, interpersonal, small group, and organizational level. The LPI has proven effective in assessing individual leadership behaviors and providing feedback useful for developing and enhancing leadership capabilities. Overall, The Five Practices framework and the LPI contribute richly to an understanding of the leadership process and to the development and unleashing of leadership capabilities.

*Excerpted and adapted from Bringing the Rigor of Research to the Art of Leadership: Evidence Behind The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® and the LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory® by Barry Z. Posner, Ph.D. Used with permission by the author. All rights reserved.

For a more comprehensive overview of the development and validation of the LPI, download the white paper, Bringing the Rigor of Research to the Art of Leadership.



Samantha Kerrigan