In a recent survey on the many tools available to test for leadership potential, 360-degree instruments topped the list as the single most used assessments.

The need for organizations to identify and develop future leaders is more critical than ever. In January 2012, organizations saw a 107 percent increase in executive turnover over January 2011 totals, according to a new report on executive assessments of high-performance companies.

To uncover the most effective tools for assessing leadership potential, the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) conducted a leadership assessment and development survey of 610 representatives from various industries and organizations.

The survey found 360-degree assessments to be the most popular and used by 77 percent of responding organizations. Next was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment at 68 percent and DiSC assessments at 61 percent. Respondents rated 25 of the most widely available assessments, excluding internally developed assessments. The survey compared the assessments used by high-performing companies with those used by low-performing companies.

Slightly more than half of all respondents had a formal leadership assessment process in place, meaning that nearly half (46 percent) did not have a system in place.

In addition, respondents considered 360-degree assessments the best tool for getting a read on executive potential, and 40 percent believed them to be either highly or very highly effective. However, the report notes that no assessment tool is designed to be used alone.

Seventy-five percent of organizations report combining the results of more than one tool. The 360-degree assessments are used most in combination with MBTI, Hogan, DiSC, and Lominger assessments. According to i4cp, "There is no one single combination—companies must decide which types of assessments work for their particular culture."

Although it's important to validate how effective the assessments are, only 20 percent of organizations overall reported analyzing outcomes. High performers do slightly better in measuring effectiveness at 23 percent, with low performers coming in at 19 percent. High-performing companies also listen more to candidate feedback about the assessment process than low performers—75 percent versus 25 percent, respectively.

To get the most out of the assessment process, the report concludes that every organization needs to determine which combination of tools works for its particular culture and follow up to ensure that the assessment combinations it uses are identifying the types of leaders it desires.