Assessing for leadership using the ADEPT-15: The A3 Leadership model

In an ever-increasingly complex and disrupted business environment, organizations need leaders who can navigate change and adapt to new situations quickly. Aon assessments, a global assessment provider and one of TTS’s best-of-breed assessment partners, have proposed a solution that can help organizations with this need.

Using the award-winning ADEPT-15 measure of workplace personality, talent professionals can apply the A3 leadership model that addresses future skills needs for leaders.

The A3 leadership model

Aon’s A3 model proposes that three key traits, namely Ability, Aspiration, and Agility – contribute to a strong leadership performance:

  • Ability refers to internal motivations, ambition, and capabilities, such as social adeptness, emotional intelligence, persistence and tenacity, and influence skills.
  • Aspiration refers to the desire and will to take on leadership roles, and
  • Agility refers to the desire and capability to learn, adapt to the environment, and seek new skills and experiences on the job.

To ensure that an organization’s leaders have the capacity to be effective in leadership roles, talent professionals will need the correct tools designed with that aim in mind. And while leaders with suitable competencies for their current role are critical to identify and develop, the additional question that needs addressing is whether they have the capacity to acquire new skills and competencies that are future-proof and in line with the organization’s strategic direction.

The A3 leadership model provides a framework for assessing such leadership capacities. In the next section, we turn to a more detailed look at each of these elements.


In the ability component of the A3 Leadership model, ADEPT-15 items are used that give an accurate read on the following elements:

  • Energize. Engaging leaders are those who connect with their employees, serve and grow their teams, stay grounded in their communication and approach, step up to drive solutions during ambiguous periods, and energize others by keeping them focused on purpose and vision.
  • Connect and stabilize. Leaders who connect with individuals and demonstrate sensitivity to others build strong relationships. Such leaders can unify others by listening, maintaining composure under stressful circumstances, and creating stability within the team. Leaders who bring stability to their teams create an environment that enables individuals to focus on their tasks and goals.
  • Serve and Grow. Leaders who build task and skill mastery with a focus on learning and improvement of others serve as meaningful and strong fellow team players. They display cooperativeness and develop others through coaching and empowerment.
  • Stay Grounded. Communicating in a genuine manner, displaying cooperativeness and humility to others, and demonstrating consistency between words and actions are essential for leaders to stay grounded. They should also have the confidence and assertiveness to speak up in the best interest of the organization and team.
  • Step Up. During ambiguous periods, leaders must initiate structure and guidance to drive solutions. They should exhibit power and influence, taking ownership of solutions when others cannot or do not.


Effective leadership is not just a question of capacity. It also references motivation and the candidate’s willingness and appetite to lead others. In the aspiration element of the A3 model, the ADEPT-15 is employed to measure these dynamics:

  • Aspire to achieve and lead. Leaders who exhibit ambition set challenging goals, and are determined to drive results hold themselves and others to high standards. Such candidates have an interest in leadership, are willing to wield the power to influence and inspire others, and are comfortable and confident in leadership roles.

    They are also able to be directive, bold, and decisive when the situation requires it, even when faced with resistance or skepticism.


The final component of the A3 Leadership model focuses on agility. This concept references recent work and research on learning agility as well as behavioral agility, both of which can help leaders adapt to the fast-paced business landscape of tomorrow.

Sub-components of agility include:

  • Gain insights from self and others. Leaders should practice self-awareness by engaging in introspection and actively seeking learnings from past experiences. They should ask for feedback from others to better understand strengths, areas of opportunity, and blind spots.
  • Seeking challenge and novelty. Leaders who demonstrate ambition and flexibility by seeking challenging new experiences and pushing outside of their comfort zone develop learning agility. They should maintain positivity when confronted with unexpected challenges.
  • Live to learn. Leaders should be able to think conceptually as well as demonstrate insatiable curiosity about the world around them. High-potential leaders tend to focus on mastery of skills and dedicate time to learning and improving their existing competencies.

The advantages of assessing for leadership

By employing robust, science-based models of leadership like the ADEPT-15’s A3 leadership framework, talent professionals can help organizations they serve gain valuable insights into their leadership pipeline.

For example, behavioral assessments like the ADEPT-15 can help to develop and current leaders to understand how their behavioral style is likely to affect the team and aid them in identifying and mitigating unconscious biases.

Assessments can also help identify another resource to compensate for the leader’s weaknesses or blind spots. And by better understanding its leadership pipeline, managers and talent professionals can make more effective decisions about leadership succession and the kinds of environments that enable a more productive leadership cadre.

Given the high stakes of leadership selection, as well as the high costs of getting it wrong, leadership assessments like the ADEPT-15 can mitigate such risks and ensure a far more accurate and defensible process through which leaders are inducted into the organization.

Final thoughts

Organizations will continually be challenged to select and develop leaders who have the ability to learn new skills and adapt to new situations. The Aon A3 Leadership model provides a framework that is useful for assessing for leadership. As a measure of this model, the ADEPT-15 can determine a candidate’s capacity for effective leadership as well as identify specific behaviors and attributes that can help leaders develop and demonstrate this potential.

By focusing on Ability, Aspiration, and Agility, the model and assessment can identify leaders who can build strong relationships, set challenging goals and learn new skills and adapt to new situations.

If you would like to know more about how the ADEPT-15 and other TTS products can help your organization to make better leadership selection and development decisions, why not reach out to us at