How a personality assessment saved my career

thought-catalog-217861-unsplashMany years ago, early in my professional career, I started a job as an assistant manager with a Wendy’s franchisee. It was just the right job for me as a young man and leader. Two other young men started with me at or near the same time. One of those young men was Zane Gross.

Shortly after we started, there came a vacancy in the general manager position. Suddenly, Zane and I, along with the other fellow, were in competition for the GM position. Pretty heady stuff for a mid-20s new father like me. We all wanted it. Bad.

Zane was/is one of those guys with a “Let’s do it!” personality. Assertive, confident, outgoing. Me, not so much then. And I tried my best to be more like Zane as we vied for that position. Eventually, our supervisors made the decision to promote Zane, and he did a great job and had much success.*

Several years passed, and I’d moved on to a couple of different jobs. All during this time, I kept believing that if I were to be really successful as a leader, I needed to be more assertive, show greater initiative, move much quicker in decision-making. The traditional view of the up-and-coming, go-getter businessman. In short, I needed to be more like Zane.

It was in one of those jobs that I was sent to a workshop with some of the other leaders. During that workshop, we all took some sort of personality assessment. I don’t even remember which one it was – possibly a GREGORC or a DiSC. The only thing I remember is that there were 4 quadrants.

As the first quadrant was described (the Zane Quadrant), I remember thinking that that’s what I wanted to be, what I needed to be to succeed as a leader. But, no. My quadrant was in the opposite corner, pitiful and weak, with its deliberative planning and organization skills. Big whoop.

When the facilitator got to my corner, he said something that changed my life and saved my career: “Every organization needs this person.”

Every. Organization. Needs. This. Person. Every organization needs…ME!

That was the game-changer. Suddenly I knew that I didn’t need to be Zane; I needed to be Mark. If there were deficiencies in my leadership, it was because I wasn’t being the most effective version of myself, not because I wasn’t like someone else.

In the years that have followed, I have learned that my greatest leadership comes when I play from my strengths. As I continue to coach young leaders, I help them understand and value their unique strengths and talents. I tell them,

“Every organization needs a leader like you.”

Question to consider: What are your strengths, and how do you bring them to bear on your unique leadership style?

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.

*Zane Gross now owns and operates a fleet of Wendy’s Restaurants in the Midwest. He is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team. He’s a successful family man and still, like me, a Browns fan.

What this blog is about

gaelle-marcel-8992-unsplash.jpgI loved my time in college. Even now, my wife says that if I could get paid to go to school, I’d be all over it. And she’s right; I’m a naturally curious learner. To some degree, all of us are; some people feed that desire more than others, while others suppress it or let it atrophy, or only learn new things when required by the job.

Psychologists differentiate between a static mindset and a growth mindset. More and more, we’re recognizing the necessity of continuous improvement in our learning. Cecelia Meis writes,

“A growing body of research shows that neurologically, growth mindsets stabilize existing neural pathways and even construct new ones, allowing connections between information and response to happen faster and more reliably.” (Success Magazine, Spring 2019, p. 23)

So, it behooves us to develop and nurture our minds whether it’s actually necessary for our jobs or not.

This brings us to the purpose of this blog. As I think and grow and learn, I want to share some of that to benefit others. To that end, the theme of this blog is “supporting life-long learners.” To do that, I plan to target my writing around four main topics that I hope will be helpful:

  • PRODUCTIVITY – organization, goal-setting, personal assessment such as DiSC or CliftonStrengths
  • LEADERSHIP – including educational effectiveness through classroom management
  • CHRISTIAN THOUGHT – theology, philosophy, biblical literacy, cultural observation and critique
  • CHURCH LIFE – especially in the areas of preaching and worship

…all from a biblically-informed world-view.

So I invite you to join me in this journey. Let’s set up shop here and discuss the world as we see it. Meis goes on to say, “Remember that learning new things isn’t always about getting a raise or earning a promotion. Learning in all forms is inherently beneficial.” (Ibid, p. 24) Let’s discover the joys of life-time learning and how we can help one another on the way. Please follow me; I hope to post 3 times per week. Share this with your friends, and by all means, please join the conversation and comment. I’ll do my best to reply.

Question to discuss: What subject (topic, skill) do you most like to learn about just for the fun of it, and why?

Leadership questions from the battlefield: Gettysburg

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The North Carolina Monument on Seminary Ridge at Gettysburg

Leadership questions from the battlefield: Gettysburg

by Mark Knox

How is it possible to lead men to likely injury or death, and have them follow you…willingly?

As I hiked across the farmland outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, generally following the path of the men who assaulted the fortified Union position in what has become known as Pickett’s Charge, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of leadership would create such a following. While there is a world of difference between leading men into battle and leading people in the marketplace, there are some factors that apply.

Let’s not forget the strong pull of military rank and order. It’s a hard thing to disobey a direct order. And I suppose in the world of business, leadership by position does have its effect. But if a leader depends on that, it will be an ineffective leading.

Then there’s the value of the “cause.” Everyone will pull together and follow a leader who has a cause to believe in. This will sustain a leader’s influence for a time. But it’s not enough.

I believe that when you break it all down, people will follow a person more than a cause. And there is evidence that Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate forces that day, had been able to engender an intense personal loyalty from his men. Not only did they march to their peril in support of their leader, they also wanted to “hit them again” after the failed attempt because of their strong belief in their leader. In the marketplace, this happens when leaders believe in and invest in their people.

People might obey a leader’s position; they might persevere for a time when they believe in the cause; but they will be intensely loyal to a leader in whom they believe…and who believes in them.