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No Personality Tests

One of my favorite expressions is “Da Nile is not just a river in Egypt,” Indeed, a lack of self-knowledge is a pandemic disease. Many of us think we know ourselves, most of us have no clue how we come across to others or even how we make decisions. 

An employee came to see me on my first day on the job and proudly proclaimed that she had more self-knowledge than anyone.  As a result, I could implicitly trust her read on every situation and how she responded to it. Unsurprisingly, she may have been the least self-aware person in the school. 

This obvious lack of self-knowledge makes me laugh at personality type tests.  The tests ask you to measure how you would respond in certain situations. They are assuming the test taker has self-knowledge; they do not. With all due respect, Myers Briggs has highly subjective questions about how you operate--”do you make a decision based more on facts than emotions?” The way people act and the way they think they act are often diametrically different. Hence it is hard to trust the test's results.

If you cannot rely on your own judgment or personality tests to gauge your style, how can you?  I suggest asking the people whom you work with and for. (Indeed, have them take the Myers Briggs for you. Do they perceive your decision making as more fact or emotion based?) If you have a good relationship with these folks, you can ask directly. However, the risks of getting less than candid answers are obvious. 

Better to hire a coach and have them talk to your colleagues. They can assure folks that they are looking for themes and will not attribute any specific observation to any specific person.  The feedback you get from the coach will be a far better picture of who you really are as a leader than any personality test. With this reliable data, you can go about improving your leadership.


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