This is the conclusion of the Leader Awareness Series, which addresses the need for leaders to be self-aware. Research proves that the more a leader is self-aware, the higher their performance. Bottom line: the more self-aware you are, the better leader you are. This post addresses some additional self-assessments (these ones not necessarily tied to a studied leadership theory) to help educate leaders about their natural leadership styles and preferences in order to become more self-aware. You can start the series with Part I here.
In the previous two posts, I covered eight leadership theories and associated self-assessments. In this post, I continue by presenting four more assessments that are based on more current research, highly applicable to contemporary leadership, and/or are not directly related to the study of leadership but can help explain your leadership style.
Conceptualizing Leadership Questionnaire
The eight questionnaires and leadership theories addressed over the last two posts all view leadership based on a specific emphasis. Some of these theories view leadership based on capacities of the leader, such as his/her traits, abilities, skills, or behavior. Other theories view leadership based on an established relationship between the leader and followers or on a finite process between them.
The conceptualizing leadership questionnaire allows leaders to determine how you inherently define and view leadership. This is important because the way you think about leadership will influence how you practice leadership. By comparing the scores from this questionnaire, you can better understand the aspects of leadership that you find most and least important.
Scores are broken into six categories of leadership emphasis:
- Leader traits
- Leader ability
- Leader skill
- Leader behavior
- Relationship between leader and follower(s)
- A process between leader and follower(s)
As an example, if you score highest on leader traits, that suggests you most value a leader’s special gifts in order to enact leadership. Or if you score highest on process, that shows you place lesser value on the leader as an individual and feel leadership is based on the varying means of communication between the leader and followers.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI is a well-known personality test to help people better understand the reasons for their behavior. The underlying theory asserts that peoples’ seemingly random variation in behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent. The test is based on perception and judgement.
Your MBTI personality type is based on four dichotomies:
- Preferred world: do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
- Information: do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
- Decisions: when making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logit and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
- Structure: in dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
Your resulting MBTI personality code, of the 16 total possible, is a four-letter code based on these four dichotomies. For example, my MBTI personality type is ISTJ (which tends to be known as the preferred engineer MBTI type).
First, there is no best type. All 16 types are considered equal. The goal is to better know your personality and to understand and appreciate the differences between people.
So, how does this apply to leadership awareness? Though I could write an entire post about professional application (especially military) of the MBTI, I want to highlight a few implications of the MBTI on your leadership:
- Leadership is highly personal. Better understanding your own (or others’) personality can lead to you better understanding your (and their) inherent leadership style. For example, introverted leaders tend to be receptive to follower proactivity, while extraverted leaders perceive that proactivity as challenging and subversive. Knowing your extraversion-introversion orientation leads you to better understand why you act or respond the way you do as a leader, especially in relation to your followers.
- An investigated application is pairing leadership teams, such as company commander and First Sergeant (1SG) in an Army application, based on similar MBTI types (check out the blog post here discussing that). MBTI can certainly serve as a basis to select team members or leadership teams, which can be a beneficial application. However, I believe divergent MBTI types should be grouped. As an “ISTJ” company commander, I do not want an “ISTJ” 1SG and XO. That leads to groupthink and significant blind spots in our respective responsibilities. I should actually prefer a 1SG and/or XO that are Intuitive (N) and Perceiving (P).
- Your personality type, especially Sensing vs. Intuition and Thinking vs. Feeling, highly impacts the culture you foster within the organization you lead. Aspects of your personality will naturally orient toward different cultural priorities such as cooperation (encouraging people to work together), consistency (using rules and systems to achieve consistent results), inspiration (inspiring people based on strong beliefs and values), or achievement (achieving high levels of performance; excellence).
Finally, it is important to note that your MBTI type does NOT mean that you are “either/or.” You are not extraverted or introverted. These dichotomies are more like continuums and your code shows that you tend to prefer one aspect over the other. An introvert can be extraverted during a social function, but it requires significant energy from that individual. Also, preferences are not immutable. Certain aspects of your personality type can strengthen or weaken with age or experience.
The MBTI is a proprietary assessment that usually costs money to complete. There are a few free online tests, provided below. Once you identify your personality type, you can easily Google that MBTI type and investigate a large volume of analysis for your specific personality.
Take the MBTI at:
The Gallup Organization, widely known for its polls and employee selection research, conducted research to identify talent that could be enhanced and used to pursue positive outcomes in work and school. Based on that research, Gallup developed their “StrengthsFinder” as an objective measure of personal talent through a short online assessment. This assessment tool identifies the areas where you have the greatest potential for building strength. It measures recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior. This research and assessment argue that people can achieve their highest potential through knowing their talent strengths, growing them, and leveraging them in work or school to achieve the most.
There are 34 defined strengths that the assessment measures. Upon completing the assessment, the 19-page report identifies your top five strengths with in-depth analysis on each one. The strengths are explained in the book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, which also provides an access code to complete the assessment. I do want to note that the assessment costs money, either through purchasing the book or paying to complete the assessment online.
As a contextual example, my top five strengths based on the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment are: Focus, Discipline, Relator, Achiever, and Learner. Being a focus-oriented person means I can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track; I prioritize, then act.
In the report, StrengthsFinder provides the following for your top five strengths:
- Awareness section for each of the five talent strengths that includes a brief strength description, personalized insight that describes what makes you stand out from others also with the same strength (based on your overall assessment responses), and questions for you to answer through reflection to increase awareness of your talents.
- Application section with 10 ideas for action for each top-five strength and questions for you to answer to help apply your talents.
- Achievement section with examples of what each top-five strength “sounds like” with quotes from people with the same talent strength and steps for you to take action to help leverage your talents for achievement.
The Maxwell Leadership Assessment
John Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and The 360 Degree Leader, and founder of The John Maxwell Co., created a dynamic leadership assessment. This assessment is based out of his 360 Degree Leader book and serves as a self- and 360-degree assessment tool. The link below leads to the assessment registration. Following registration, you receive an email with instructions. Read them carefully as they provide steps on how to complete the self-assessment and how to have others complete it on you as well. The assessment includes a series of rating-selection questions and several open-ended response questions.
Questionnaire results are reported in a robust 12-page document with analysis based on self and others’ assessments. Feedback is broken into “five levels of leadership,” which are explained below. I believe this is a quality method to compare self versus others’ reflections on your leadership. The report and the “five levels” are easy to understand and translate well to interpreting your leadership behaviors in a professional setting.
Reading The 360 Degree Leader is not required to utilize the questionnaire or accurately interpret the results. However, I highly recommend both of John Maxwell’s books mentioned above if you have not yet read them.
Five levels of leadership:
- Position: first level where people follow you because they have to based on the position you hold.
- Permission: people follow you because they have given you permission to develop a relationship with them.
- Production: the third level that is concerned with getting results with a team. At this level, people follow you because of what you’ve done for the organization.
- People Development: you use your experience and knowledge to reproduce your own skills in the lives of others; you embrace developing others both personally and professionally. Thus, people follow you because of what you’ve done for them.
- Pinnacle: you have helped many other leaders over a long period of time and have earned their respect. People follow you because of what you represent.