Some thoughts on personality assessments

I’ve come to enjoy seeing people discover more about their strengths and love coaching them in how their strengths make them a better leader if they would stop trying to fix their weaknesses and simply focus on what makes them great. To see people value their uniqueness where they once thought poorly of themselves is a fulfilling thing.

But, as a self-identified “assessment-junkie,” I need to express a few caveats.

One assessment doesn’t tell the whole story

There is value in submitting to multiple assessments. I have done this, and for the most part, they paint the same picture, albeit from different angles. But, trying to understand yourself through only one assessment is like assuming you “get” your spouse after one date.

Case in point – Two of the people with whom I work, along with me, have taken the “StandOut” test from Marcus Buckingham. We all three scored the same in our top two strength Roles – Equalizer/Creator. We all thought it was accurate in its descriptions. Yet, we couldn’t be more different in other ways. One is a “High-I” (DiSC) and talented in Influencer strengths in the Clifton. The other is a “Screaming-High-D” and an Executor. I’m a “High-C” and a Strategic Thinker.

So, it’s always best to carefully read the reports that normally accompany your results and make note of which descriptors fit you and which don’t. Not every Type 3 (Enneagram) is built the same.

Your type is not you

As I mentioned in the previous post, there can be a tendency to identify yourself by a category of an assessment. I did it myself just two paragraphs ago. But understand this. That’s just a shorthand way of speaking. It’s not you.

If you are prone to thinking, “I am a 5,” (in Enneagram terms) in the same way that you might say, “I am a redhead,” well, let’s just say it doesn’t work that way. Your “type,” regardless of which test we are talking about, is more of an adjective than a noun. Meaning, types are simply collections of descriptive character traits that you may display. It’s not some genetic trait. You are not imprisoned by your type.

In the Clifton Strengths, my dead last theme is Competition. This means that if you want to motivate me to produce more by staging a contest, it’s probably not going to move my needle much. However, there are times in my work where I’d better access a little competitive spirit. And though it’s not a strength, it’s not as though I am completely incapable of it. It’s just going to take more work.

So, we can’t use our strengths/weaknesses as an excuse for not doing our job or not doing it well. Your type is not you.

Every strength has a dark side

Any good character trait, if taken to the extreme, can become a force for evil. Well, maybe not evil, but certainly a force that is less than optimum in your leadership. My strategic thinking could paralyze me if I am unable to act.

This is why it’s important to partner with others whose strengths complement your own. A visionary “big picture” person needs to partner with a high-achiever. Your strengths, by themselves, can become weak when you don’t collaborate.

So, yes. Take some assessments. You’ll love the feeling that someone must have been reading your diary. Most importantly, you’ll come to value your unique self. Only be aware of the limitations of a test.

I teach a course which utilizes the DiSC personality assessment. It’s called “Solving the People Puzzle” and is available in faith-based and non-faith-based formats. Please contact me if you are interested in this for your group or organization.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s