It’s not hard to find books on leadership and management. John Maxwell himself has written nearly 70. One of Maxwell’s most famous books is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, and the tenth tenet in that book is the Law of Connection, about understanding the people leaders are leading before expecting them to follow you. Although the idea behind this law is for a leader to make a personal connection with his or her charges, there is a subset of that concept that includes understanding a person’s skill set in order to put them in the best situation to succeed.
Understanding Personality Tests
We see a lot of companies provide DiSC® profile assessments either in the pre-application process or as part of an organization-wide initiative. The profile asks a series of questions and the result is a score in each of the four areas listed below. The scores are not necessarily good or bad but are rather an indication of behaviors and tendencies.
In an accounting firm, one might expect to see a lot of High-Cs, people who are conscientious and analytical and follow a system. It is an important trait in an accountant. The other three areas, though, will provide a more specific view of how an employee will behave.
For instance, an accountant can be a good employee with or without being outgoing and enthusiastic. But, a manager who knows he or she has a High-i employee may choose to give them a more active role in seminars and mixers because of their personality.
The Benefit of Personality Tests in the Workplace
Knowing the DiSC® profile of each member of an organization can be an effective tool to create specific teams. Having a lot of High-D personalities on a single team could cause a great deal of discomfort in getting to a good end result, whereas having only one High-D on a team will likely lead to a majority of the members not having an opportunity to contribute.
The most effective leaders understand the thought processes of their employees and team members, and the best way to gather this information is to ask them, and DiSC® is a simple way to obtain this vital information.
There are other similar personality-type tests, including the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), which characterizes all people into 16 different buckets. Although testers can get more detailed results than just where they fall in each of four categories, MBTI® can be somewhat limited in its usefulness and has come under some scrutiny in the last 10 years. Even so, if a company wants to start out with something that will open the door to understanding its employees, the MBTI® is free and can be a good gateway into wider-scale team building analyses.
Regardless of what path companies choose, though, the important fact is that many managers and leaders direct others in a way that they themselves want to be led and not necessarily in a way that is best for the employee or team member. Utilizing DiSC®, or to a lesser extent MBTI®, will help to alleviate this fallacy and ideally lead to better teams and happier and longer-term employees.
By Dan Massey, CPA, Manager