Ethan Lin is the founder of www.leadershipgeeks.com and www.personality-central.com. He has a passion to empower and develop people. Professionally, he is a corporate trainer focusing on sales training, leadership development and team building with his company Personality Central.
Your leaders need to be assessed. They need to know where they’re at; what their strengths and weaknesses are – this is one of the foremost keys of a leader: self-awareness.
A simple but unstructured way would be to use personal observation. However, such a method is often subject to high variance and personal bias. We tend to value leaders that are more like ourselves and undervalue those that are different.
A more useful and objective method would be to use leadership assessment tools. Leadership assessment tools offer a good way to recognize strengths and weaknesses in your leaders, and for you to develop a customized development program for each of them.
Let’s look at the top 5 leadership assessment tools you can use.
Let’s start with the simplest tool. The DISC Profiling is one of the most straightforward profiling tools for your leaders. It’s popularity comes because of the ease of understanding the concepts and ideas behind it.
DISC primarily measures observable behaviour, hence is rather straightforward. Most of the results you obtain for an individual can be easily predicted as a result.
However, more recent versions of the DISC have further sub-divided into work types and private types i.e. you have a different set of behaviours at work and away from it.
Should you use it?
The tool being simple and general, it is best when used for a large group of people. If you have a staff strength of 100, and you want to get an overview of their work behaviours, the DISC is suitable.
However, it is not a tool meant to go deep into a test taker’s psyche. So it will not be suitable for more complex understanding of an individual.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine C Briggs based on research by Carl Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the foremost personality profiling instruments.
Higher in complexity compared to the DISC, the MBTI provides more insightful information about an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
I am a trainer with Personality Central, and we use MBTI as our framework for sales training, leadership development and team building.
I found that while MBTI is more complex than DISC, the insights you gain from understanding a person’s type is tremendous. Also, it is not too customized (there are only 16 types) and so you can categorize certain behaviors for people for use in discussing communication styles and conflict behaviour.
Should you use it?
I favor the MBTI over the DISC. However, for many executives who prefer simplicity, they’ll forget their 4-letters eventually and perhaps the DISC might serve them better in these cases.
However, when it comes to personal coaching, the MBTI still lacks in depth what the other assessment tools below can achieve. I would recommend the next 3 instruments if a more personal approach is used for leadership development.
Gallup Strengths Finder
As the name suggests, the StrengthsFinder seeks to help leaders discover their top strengths.
The idea behind it is simple: Work on your strengths and be more engaged, happier and productive. Rather than working on your weaknesses, Tom believes that building on your strengths increases your morale.
So, the assessment tools seek to point out your top 5 strengths from a list of 30. The top 5 strengths is then used as both a teambuilding and coaching tool.
Should I use it?
For personal coaching purposes, I favor the StrengthsFinder the most. It is easy to apply and highly customized for each individual. Therefore, it makes for a good tool to express the unique strengths of each person.
However, it becomes tougher when using it in a team context. What is the general communication style of the team, or what is the culture of the team? – This tends to be harder for StrengthsFinder to answer due to the complexity of individual assessments.
For that reason, I would still recommend the MBTI above the others for team building purposes.
360 Degree Feedback
As the name suggests, 360 Degree Feedback is about getting feedback from multiple sources. For managers, this will mean getting feedback from their staff, bosses, peers and other related stakeholders.
The idea of doing so is to get a better assessment of the manager’s personality, strengths and weaknesses as more sources will usually mean higher accuracy.
In 360 Degree Feedback, the people around the leader are required to fill up multiple pages of questionnaires about the leader, and then the result is compiled and a report is generated.
The results garnered from such a feedback will provide a framework for the leader’s development. Sometimes, it is also used in relation to pay and promotion.
Should I use it?
This assessment tool’s power is that it obtains results from multiple sources. However, multiple sources also mean higher variance of results.
The important question to ask here is this: What do you hope to gain by getting feedback from those around the subject?
People’s opinions may differ based on their personal bias, and should a leader act according to these opinions? I lean towards a no.
It’s effectiveness in helping a leader increase productivity has been questioned too – it has not been conclusive that such a test actually helps a leader think, act or behave better.
Enneagram literally means “Nine Types”. The origins of this are in dispute, but it is generally agreed that modern understanding of Enneagram is built upon works of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo.
Enneagram is a complex personality system that goes beyond the surface of behaviors into motivations behind the actions of people. While there are only 9 types, there are also subtypes.
With a full combination, there can be up to 81 possible different combinations an individual can have. This definitely is a good tool to explain human motivations.
I personally find this a great coaching tool because a coach who uses this tool doesn’t just address behavior but addresses the motivation behind behaviors.
However, its complexity does turn some people off. The 9 types, when further subdivided into subtypes, become too complex for most people to understand.
Should I use it?
Enneagram is designed for spiritual development of an individual. It goes beyond behaviors into the root of human nature. I wouldn’t recommend it for use in the workplace for that reason – at work, you don’t have to know the root causes of people’s actions. You just need them to adopt the right one.
However, in religious organizations like churches, where pastors do need to understand their congregation at a deeper level, the Enneagram is a perfect fit.