There are many different personality and behavior assessment tools. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and DISC assessment are two of the most popular. Managers use them to understand their employees better. Individuals use them to understand themselves better. The idea is you learn about personality traits and tendencies so that you can be smarter about matching those tendencies with situations which play to your strengths. In other words, these assessments tend to treat revealed tendencies as innate and therefore permanent.
One reason I've held off taking such a test is that I am intuitively skeptical of how effective any survey or test can be at accurately capturing the nuances of a person. Also, I've seen these tests be overinterrepted by managers. For example, manager adminsters a test to subordinate, the test suggests subordinate avoids exerting authority and is introverted, manager concludes he's not fit to be a leader, and the subordiate defers to the test and shelves any leadership aspiration. These broader concerns aside, I do think that if one treats personality test results with appropriate distance, they can be a useful check on intuitions and a good starting point for a conversation.
Yesterday I took the Predicative Index test. Frederic Lucas-Conwell studied all the various tests for his PhD and now administers and consults around the Predictive Index, which he believes is the best. He was kind enough to do my test for free. It is remarkably short — it only takes about 10 minutes to complete, as you check off adjectives that describe how you believe others expect you to act and then adjectives that you think really describe who you are. After entering my results into a computer, Frederic displayed the following three charts. They're meaningless unless you know how to interpret this particular test.
Below the fold is the automated written report that accompanies my results (ie, "Ben" is plugged in a blank space for a pre-written report for my type). I think it underplays my introverted streak and underplays my interest in details and precision. Otherwise it emphasizes pretty typical entrepreneur traits. Note it focuses solely on professional and management issues, no "personal" situations or attitudes.
Ben’s PI Pattern is extremely wide, which means that his behaviors are very strongly expressed and his
needs are very strongly felt.
Ben will most strongly express the following behaviors:
- Strongly venturesome in taking risks and focusing on the future; he’s almost exclusively concerned with where he’s going rather than either how he’ll get there, or where he’s been.
- Very adaptable; solves problems as they occur rather than through advance planning.
- Makes decisions and takes action, even when there’s an absence of proof confirming his decision. Comfortable operating outside of traditions, he pursues strongly innovative ideas, even in the face of failures or popular opposition.
- Remarkably independent. Resists authority and proven, ‘by the book’ methods in favor of his own ideas.
- Extremely informal, extroverted, and outgoing; gets familiar very soon after you meet him.
- Communicates effusively, flexibly, and engagingly; draws others into the conversation.
- Almost exclusively focused on people, building relationships, and teamwork rather than technical matters. Uninhibited; very open and trusting in sharing his thoughts and in asking personal questions.
- Not interested in the details; delegates them freely. Needs unstructured projects where flexibly working with people, and a focus on the goals rather than the plans, is necessary.
- Proactivity, assertiveness, and sense of urgency in driving to reach his goals. Openly challenges the world around him.
- Independent in putting forth his own ideas, which are often innovative and, if implemented, cause change. Resourcefully works through or around anything blocking completion of what he wants to accomplish; aggressive when challenged.
- Impatient for results, he puts pressure on himself and others for rapid implementation, and is far less productive when doing routine work.
Ben is a very independent, confident, decisive, self-starter, intense and driving. He has a strong sense of
urgency, can react and adjust quickly to changing conditions, generate novel ideas, and deal with them
His drive is directed at getting the things done which he believes need to be done. Competitive, ambitious and venturesome, he responds positively and actively to challenge and pressure, always sure of his ability to handle problems and people. Ben is an outgoing and poised person, a forceful, animated, communicator tending to be more authoritative than persuasive in his style. He talks briskly, with assurance and conviction and is a stimulating influence on others, while being direct, determined and flexible in dealing with them.
He is sure of the value of his own judgments and opinions, and persistent in defending them if put under pressure to change them. He will question and challenge established company policies or systems and strive to prove in action the value of his own ideas for change.
More concerned with the achievement of goals than he is with the details of how things get done, Ben
will freely delegate to others with loose follow-up, but with demand and pressure for timely results.
Ingenious and venturesome, he will become restless and dissatisfied if required to work under close control or to do work which is routine or highly structured. Very much a generalist, Ben is more concerned with the strategies involved in reaching his goals than with specific or detailed tactics.
As a manager of people or projects, Ben will be:
- Broadly focused, fast moving, and aggressive in pursuit of his own goals
- Eager to delegate details and implementation plans, leaving him to focus on new ideas
- Reluctant to delegate true authority; he will eagerly discuss ideas with others and enjoys that process; however, his inner conviction is often too strong to convince him to change his mind
- His follow-up is quick and cursory; Ben is likely to consider details minutia – impediments to focusing on the bigger picture
- Constantly looking to improve performance and ability to compete; willing to try radically new solutions and innovative approaches
- An influential and stimulating team leader – encouraging others to look at things from entirely new perspectives; relentless in his pursuit of change and creativity
- Direct, spontaneous, and opinionated – quick to voice his opinion of how things are going.
To maximize his effectiveness, productivity, and job satisfaction, consider providing Ben with the
- High levels of autonomy and flexibility in his job
- Ample opportunity for expression of and action on his own ideas and initiatives
- Variety, challenge, responsibility, and opportunities to prove himself
- Recognition, advancement and tangible rewards for success