The Responsive Leader Score (RLS) for Human Services

Improve Quality Leadership, Employee Engagement and Client Outcomes!

Why the Responsive Leader Score? 

There is sufficient evidence that demonstrates quality leadership as experienced by team members, has a direct impact on employee engagement and consequently both employee and client outcomes (de Groot 2016). 

As a matter of fact, there is no other mechanism with greater impact on employee engagement and performance than leadership and, per Gallup (2013, 2017), employee engagement is known to have a direct effect on the following performance/outcome areas: 

  • Turnover;
  • Productivity; 
  • Client/Patient Safety; 
  • Safety Incidents; 
  • Absenteeism;
  • Quality Process/Product; 
  • Customer Ratings and; 
  • Shrinkage (theft). 

Quality leadership, is foundational to effective communication, maximized commitment, optimal performance, great culture and the achievement of preferred employee and client outcomes.  

What is The Responsive Leader Score? 

The Responsive Leader Score (RLS) is simple, accurate and efficient; a strengths-based and values- centered tool for assessing and developing quality leadership capacity. In addition to operating as an assessment mechanism, the RLS functions simultaneously as a practical tool for quality leadership development. 

The RLS measures and supports the development of what matters most; quality and effective leadership behaviors that, when demonstrated, have proven to be inextricably linked to the following consequent outcomes:  

  • Deeper, more meaningful leader-member connections; 
  • Stronger leader-member relationships and trust; 
  • Maximized employee motivation; 
  • Increased employee and team engagement; 
  • Optimal performance; 
  • Enhanced efficiencies and;   
  • Acceleration and achievement of results in the areas of people, performance and preferred outcomes. 

All behaviors being assessed correlate to and represent 5 of the most meaningful leadership domains. They are: Respect, IntegrityEmpathySupportiveness and Performance

Why is The Responsive Leader Score Important? 

People, Performance & Preferred Outcomes: Leadership Impacts Everything! 

Leadership is the greatest mechanism available for enhancing employee engagement and, the potential for managers to impact employee engagement is massive.Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across all business units. 

Quality leadership positively impacts; engagement, culture, and conversion on greatest outcomes for employees and the people they serve.  

The Poor State of Leadership Quality 

Poor quality leadership experiences negatively affect and are detrimental to people, performance and preferred outcomes There are clear links between poor leadership experiences and low morale, low job satisfaction, negative work climate, increased stress, strain, disengagement and burnout.  

Disengagement alone costs organizations more than $10,000 a year per disengaged employee. With the average leader having 7 direct reports, each poor leader can cost an organization at least $70,000 per year. When we consider the fact that poor leadership also contributes to a poor work climate, increased stress, strain and low satisfaction the costs of poor leadership to organizations, skyrockets. 

The Need to Measure What Matters Most 

It is vital that we assess and develop leader capacity as an organizational imperative. Doing so has proven to enhance employee engagement and subsequently practice performance simultaneously. Quality leadership unsurprisingly leads to the achievement of preferred outcomes for employees and the people they serve.  

What Makes The Responsive Leader Score So Special? 

Valid and Reliable 

The RLS framework was developed based on decades of research and observed transformations working with tens of thousands of people across all sectors.  A variety of qualitative methods were used to establish specific “Quality and Effective Leadership Behaviors” and to develop key “Leadership Domains” (Respect, Integrity, Empathy, Supportiveness and Performance). 

Experience of Direct Reports 

The RLS is based on the premise that, quality and effective leadership can only be determined by the experience of those individuals being led. Therefore, the RLS is built around the leader’s behaviors as assessed by a manager’s direct reports. 

Assessment and Development 

In addition to providing an accurate assessment of key leadership behaviors, that matter most, the RLS offers specific tips, steps and strategies for developing leadership towards the greatest quality and effectiveness. 


The RLS offers managers a list of strengths related to leader-behaviors, identified by team members as positive and favorable. In addition to a list of strengths, the RLS offers “positive messages” from the team; a detailed account of additional and affirming behaviors intended to support and bolster manager strengths and areas for development. 

Behaviors vs. Personality or Character Traits 

Unlike many assessment tools that “assess” personality or character traits (Courage, Charisma, Commitment, etc.), the RLS is geared towards the assessment of very specific and concrete leadership behaviors. 

Specific Leader Qualities vs. Generalized Values

Many leadership assessments use values (Transparent, Accountable, Collaborative, Innovative, etc.) as quality indexes; these indicators can be interpreted in a variety of ways and, because of their general nature are difficult, if not impossible, to measure. The RLS is composed of behavior-specific indices that are clear, concrete and measurable. 

Free of Value or Personality Biases

The RLS was designed and developed to focus solely on specified manager behaviors and, whether those behaviors occur sometimes, regularly or not at all. The RLS measure is not dependent upon preferred bias, values or favored characteristics/qualities – It is strictly behavioral and precludes the potential for results influenced by personal criticism and/or judgment. 

Quick, Efficient and Cost-Effective

The RLS takes very little time to complete with the average time required to complete being 15 minutes. Once the RLS has been completed a comprehensive report is delivered that can be interpreted and activated immediately without additional coaching or mentoring. A series of development tips and suggestions will be delivered to the manager to maximize positive behavioral change.  

Scalable Development without Workflow Interruption

The RLS offers an approach to leadership development that does not interrupt the flow of everyday work/business. It is fully equipped to provide an individualized manager-specific framework for setting and achieving important developmental goals without requiring formal course-work or consultancy/coaching support. 

How Does The Responsive Leader Score Work?

Each direct report will complete a short behavior-specific survey about their manager.  

Team members are encouraged to rate, on a 10-point scale, the degree to which their manager demonstrates a specified leadership behavior. All behaviors being assessed correlate to, and represent 5 of the most meaningful leadership domains; RespectIntegrityEmpathy,Supportiveness and Performance.  


Respect is characterized by leaders who consistently demonstrate consideration for the overall well-being of others. Respect is portrayed when leaders show genuine admiration for their people and/or for their people’s abilities. Leaders that treat people with kindness and demonstrate value for their member’s contributions are often described as highly respectful.  


Integrity is characterized by leaders who have strong moral character; who consistently behave in ways that demonstrate humility, courage and truth. They are perceived by others as honest, fair and behave in ways that are congruent with important values. Leaders that “walk the talk” and do what they say they will do are often described as having a high degree of integrity.  


Empathy is characterized by leaders who demonstrate genuine care and concern for others and, is demonstrated in one’s ability to tune-into and understand the feelings/experiences of team members. Leaders who are skilled at listening, hearing others, withholding judgement while maintaining a calm, caring and positive disposition are described as having great empathy.  


Supportiveness is characterized by leaders who are encouraging, flexible and helpful to others. Leaders who listen, understand and empower members to maximize their potential are referred to as supportive. Supportive leaders are often described as taking a real interest in and, advocating for, the development and success of their people.  


Performance is characterized by efforts and accomplishments towards a set of clear tasks and preferred results for a specified function. High performing leaders are those who have or work towards acquiring sufficient knowledge, experience and skill to fulfill important role requirements. Managers who understand, communicate and work to operationalize, the vision, mission, values and strategy of the organization are referred to as high performing leaders.  

The manager will also complete a self-assessment survey of their leadership capabilities.  

All domain-related behaviors are weighted and calculated respectively and are represented in individual domain scores, each of 100 possible points. All behaviors and domain scores are combined and represented in a manager’s CORE Leader Score, of 100 possible points.  

The Responsive Leader Score Report

Once the surveys have been completed and gathered, a detailed RLS report, complete with “Top Leader Strengths”“Areas for Development”, “Positive Messages from the Team”“Domain Scores” and an overall “CORE Leader Score”, will be delivered by email, to the manager.   

In addition to offering managers a detailed overview of the survey findings, the RLS report provides a Step-by-Step process for interpreting and sharing results, supporting greater leadership development and, improving the managers’ overall CORE Leader Score. 

The RLS report is followed up with regular developmental tips, strategies and suggestions, so that managers can take immediate steps, towards activating greater leadership quality and effectiveness.  

Who Should Use The Responsive Leader Score?

Organizations who are serious about enhancing leadership quality to improve employee engagement, optimize practice performance and achieve and exceed both employee and client outcomes 

If you have questions or, would like to learn more about The Responsive Leader Score, please email Chris Downey at