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.

Know Thyself: a survey of personality assessments, Part 1

2019-04-22-22-55-10In my last blog post, I told my story of how a personality assessment saved my career. If you haven’t read it, please do. I’ve learned that I work and lead best when I’m being myself rather than trying to be someone else. Over the years, I’ve taken a number of different assessments, and each one has told me a little more about myself. Here’s a quick survey of some of them, along with some thoughts about the effectiveness of each.

Clifton Strengths (StrengthsFinder)

We use this test extensively with our leaders and other key people at the Chick-fil-A where I work. This appraisal is backed by the power Gallup, Inc., the famous survey people. They are able to synthesize the findings of 20+ million people who’ve taken the test. If you take the simple test ($20), you’ll identify your “Top 5” strengths (out of a possible 34 themes). This is helpful, but the real insight comes when you pay extra ($40 on sale) to reveal your entire list of 34. Note: it’s worth it.DNA

My top 5 strengths are Strategic, Responsibility, Learner, Input, and Relator. Further insight comes from the supplemental book, Strengths Based Leadership, by identifying the 4 Strengths Domains (also available within the app). I’ve learned that I am at my best in the Strategic Thinking domain, and I really need to collaborate with someone strong in the Influencer domain, where I struggle.

Summary: especially helpful when you get the full report, supportive website, extensive documentation. Get the e-book, Expanding Your Strengths.

StandOut

StandOut is the creation of Marcus Buckingham, who was connected with the Clifton Strengths assessment before launching out on his own. StandOut identifies and ranks 9 Strength Roles and classifies you with the top 2 (though you know your rank of all 9). The cost of the test is the price of the book or e-book (@$16-$19). The roles aren’t sliced as thin as the themes of the Clifton.

My assessment revealed that I am an Equalizer/Creator. The descriptions in the companion book and report are among the most insightful of any assessment. Interestingly enough, two of my colleagues tested the same, yet we are very different on other appraisals, especially the DISC. All this goes to show that no one rating can tell the whole story about who you are.

Summary: great advice and application to many venues (leadership, sales, management, client service). Lots of great take-aways. The “How to Describe Yourself in Interviews” sections are worth the price if you’re looking for a career move.

Question to consider: Have you taken either of these assessments, and how have they helped you?

Coming next: DISC, Fascination Advantage, The Motivators Assessment, and the Enneagram

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.