I have had several – many – personality/temperament/gift tests done throughout my career. At NSA, I was required to complete the Myers-Briggs® test. The feedback was complex, and I really did not understand what the point of it was, as my supervisors never considered it again after the initial receipt of the results. In my role as a leader in my church, I took another test, the Arno® Profile Assessment. This was very detailed as well, but the feedback was clearer, practical, and recognized that my approach to situations could differ dependent on my relationship to the people involved. I have taken several others that identified my temperament by certain animal symbols, historical figures, etc., which to me were a bit too simplistic in their approach.
Most recently I took the Marston’s DiSC® assessment. This is one of, if not the most, popular temperament assessment currently used in the business arena. If you are unfamiliar with it, the test is a series of questions, simply decision and preference mostly, that are fed into an algorithm that returns with a full evaluation determining what your natural temperament tendencies are. There are four very identifiable ones, with many people “blending” two or more by nature: D-DOMINANCE, I-INFLUENCE, S-STEADINESS, and C-COMPLIANCE. I won’t go into the details of each one; you can find plenty of information on the web if you want more.
You can also find lots of conjecture about why these tests are important – unfortunately, most of it is by businesses selling one of these testing services. If you are like me, that can look circumspect because of the appearance of a conflict of interest, even if what they are saying is correct. So, here is my experience and insight:
- These tests are invaluable – if used in the proper way. I don’t think anyone should be forced to take it by their employer. I have heard concerns that the results will affect one’s ability to move to various upward or lateral positions, if the leaders think a certain “type of person” is needed. The purpose of these tests should never be to decide if someone is right for the job. They should be viewed as a tool for communication and understanding. One person will rise to the challenge if confronted in a direct way about the need for change, while another will cringe and feel personally attacked by the same directness. One will blossom with lots of verbal praise, while another couldn’t care less. If you truly want to get the very best out of your team, knowing how to communicate with them effectively and uniquely is a sure-fire way to do just that.
- Each temperament has both strengths and weaknesses – There is no perfect person. Everyone needs to recognize that within themselves. When the leader can acknowledge it, they can better help their team by putting people together that shore up one another’s weak areas and let their strengths shine. This will always bring a much higher level of success – for everyone.
- The most important one to understand is your own – One of the biggest challenges for me was learning to communicate in a manner that was much less destructive than my jagged and piercing “D” temperament tended to do. I wasn’t trying to hurt people; being direct and blunt were natural to me, and I was not offended by receiving it in return. Through the process of my own evaluation, and learning how the other three could be affected by some of my more demanding aspects, I realized I was putting walls up between me and my team that I had not intended to build. I started paying attention to how I spoke, and trying to identify what each member’s probably tendencies were, so that when I needed something done or changed, I could talk to them the way they could receive it best. I even started asking my service manager, a high S (which is the most common, by the way) to read correspondence for me before I sent it, “so I don’t chop somebody’s head off with my words.” He recognized what a huge effort I was making, and his input helped me smooth out my rougher edges; I can still be very direct and blunt when called upon, but I have the skills now to hone my approach as needed.
You can very likely read the characteristics of each and guess which one you are, but I encourage you to consider getting a complete assessment done. The information can really give you a leg up on leading your team effectively, identifying the areas you are strongest in, and helping you plan a strategy for your weaknesses (perhaps you need to hire someone with those strengths?).
And no, I’m not a paid endorsee of any of them 🙂