5 Reasons For You to Use Leadership & Personality Assessments to Become a Better Leader
Leadership development is a critical aspect of growing a successful business. The effectiveness of a leader has a significant impact on the growth and success of an organisation. To become an effective leader, it is essential to understand one's strengths, weaknesses, communication style, and blind spots. Several assessments are available to help leaders identify these areas and create personalised development plans. Three popular assessments are the Leadership Versatility Index (LVI) 360, Enneagram, and DISC personality assessments.
The LVI is a 360-degree feedback assessment designed to help leaders understand their leadership strengths and identify areas for improvement. It measures a leader's versatility across 12 key aspects of leadership grouped into 4 domains: How you lead (Forceful and Enabling); what you lead (Strategic and Operational). The assessment helps leaders understand where they are under using or overusing specific strengths, as well as where they are getting the balance just right for their people. An LVI style assessment is particularly useful for leaders who are looking to enhance their leadership skills, build effective teams, and improve organisational performance.
The Enneagram is a personality assessment that identifies nine different personality types. Each type is associated with a distinct set of strengths, weaknesses, communication styles, and motivators. The Enneagram aims to help individuals understand their personality type and how it affects their behaviour and communication style. By identifying one's Enneagram type, a leader can gain a better understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for development.
The DISC assessment measures four different personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The assessment aims to help individuals understand their communication style, leadership style, and behaviour. By identifying one's DISC profile, a leader can gain insights into what situations are stressful for them and how they can flex to build better relationships and communicate more effectively with others.
While each of these assessments provides valuable insights into a leader's personality and behaviour, they can be even more powerful when combined. By combining insights from multiple assessments, a leader can gain a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for development.
Here are 5 ways in which these assessments can be combined to supercharge personal and leadership development:
Develop a Holistic Understanding: Each assessment provides a different lens through which to view a leader's personality and behaviour. By combining these assessments, a leader can develop a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, and areas for development.
Identify Overlapping Insights: The assessments may reveal overlapping insights into a leader's personality, such as their communication style, leadership strengths, and areas for development. By identifying these overlaps, a leader can gain a deeper understanding of their personality and how it affects their leadership style.
Focus on Development Opportunities: The assessments can be used to identify development opportunities that are aligned with a leader's personality type and communication style. For example, a leader who is a Type 3 (the Achiever) in the Enneagram may benefit from developing a more collaborative leadership style, which could be identified as needed in their business through an LVI style assessment.
Develop a Personalised Development Plan: By combining insights from multiple assessments, a leader can work with their coach to develop a personalised development plan that is tailored to their unique personality and leadership style. This plan can focus on areas for improvement and identify specific actions that a leader can take to improve their leadership effectiveness.
Track Progress: By tracking progress over time, a leader can measure their progress against specific and relevant areas for development. The assessments can be retaken periodically to monitor progress and adjust the development plan as needed.
Reactive vs Choiceful Leadership
One key aspect that is addressed in these three assessments is reactive vs choiceful responding, also referred to as vertical development in the Enneagram framework, , and Reactive vs Creative in The Leadership Circle (TLC). Understanding the difference between reactive and choiceful is key to a more capable style of leadership. Reactive leaders tend to be more focused on the short-term, reactive to external stimuli, and focused on problem-solving. Choiceful leaders, on the other hand, tend to be more focused on long-term goals, proactive in seeking out opportunities, and focused on innovation.
Reactiveness is a common behaviour that shows up for leaders in high-pressure and challenging growth environments. When faced with unexpected challenges or obstacles, reactive leaders tend to respond in a defensive, often knee-jerk, manner. This can manifest in 5 main ways:
Short-term focus: Reactive leaders tend to focus on the immediate problem at hand rather than thinking about the long-term implications of their decisions. They may be more concerned with putting out fires than with developing a long-term strategy for growth.
Blame: Reactive leaders may be quick to blame others for problems rather than taking ownership and responsibility for finding solutions. This can create a culture of fear and blame within the organisation, which can stifle creativity and innovation.
Resistance to change: Reactive leaders may be resistant to change and new ideas, preferring to stick with what has worked in the past. This can be a major obstacle to growth and innovation, particularly in fast-changing industries.
Lack of collaboration: Reactive leaders may be less likely to collaborate with others, preferring to work independently to solve problems. This can lead to silos within the organisation and a lack of cross-functional cooperation.
Reactive decision-making: Reactive leaders may make decisions quickly, without fully considering all the available information. This can lead to poor decisions that have negative long-term consequences.
In contrast, choiceful leaders tend to be more proactive, creative, and forward-thinking in their approach to leadership. They are more likely to seek out new opportunities and ideas, take calculated risks, and embrace change. They tend to focus on the long-term vision for the organisation, while also being responsive to short-term challenges.
In high-pressure and challenging growth environments, it's important for leaders to be able to bring balance and remain choiceful under pressure. They need to be able to respond quickly and decisively to unexpected challenges while maintaining strong and supportive working relationships.
So, why is it important to be more choiceful and less reactive?
Reactive leaders are often triggered by external events and tend to respond defensively. Reactive leaders also tend to be more focused on fixing problems as they arise, rather than preventing them from occurring in the first place. This can lead to a cycle of constantly putting out fires, rather than making meaningful progress towards long-term goals. Choiceful and creative leaders, on the other hand, tend to focus on proactively seeking out opportunities and innovating to create new solutions. This requires a strong sense of long-term strategic thinking, an ability to manage risk, and a willingness to embrace change and new ideas.
Another important reason to be more creative is that creativity is becoming increasingly important in today's rapidly changing business environment. The pace of change is accelerating, and businesses that can adapt and innovate are more likely to succeed. By fostering a culture of creativity and encouraging creative thinking, leaders can help their organisations stay ahead of the curve.
So, how can leaders become more choiceful in the moment?
By being aware of their own tendencies towards reactiveness, leaders can work to develop a more choiceful approach to leadership. This might involve seeking out feedback from others, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, and developing a more strategic approach to decision-making. With practice and commitment, leaders can learn to balance both reactive and choiceful tendencies and build thriving organisations that are able to navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing business environment.
Here are 5 tips:
Encourage brainstorming and idea generation: Set aside time for your team to brainstorm and come up with new ideas. Encourage everyone to share their ideas, no matter how "out there" they may seem.
Embrace failure: Failure is an inevitable part of the creative process. Encourage your team to take risks and try new things, even if they may not work out in the end.
Foster a culture of curiosity: Encourage your team to ask questions and be curious about the world around them. Encourage them to seek out new knowledge and experiences.
Provide resources and support: Make sure your team has the resources they need to be creative, whether that means time, budget, or access to tools and technology.
Lead by example: As a leader, it's important to model the behaviours you want to see in your team. Be willing to take risks, try new things, and embrace failure.
Another way to understand choiceful leadership is to consider the concepts of "above the line" and "below the line" behaviours. These are closely related to the difference between reactive and choiceful leadership styles.
"Above the line" behaviours and thinking refer to proactive and constructive approaches to leadership. This includes taking ownership, being accountable, and being solution oriented. Leaders who exhibit above the line behaviours are more likely to take a proactive approach to challenges, seek out opportunities for growth, and foster a culture of innovation and creativity.
In contrast, "below the line" behaviours and thinking refer to reactive and destructive approaches to leadership. This includes blaming, avoiding responsibility, and being problem oriented. Leaders who exhibit below the line behaviours are more likely to be reactive in the face of challenges, resist change and innovation, and foster a culture of fear and blame.
Defining and working with above the line and below the line thinking and behaviours
Reactive leadership styles are closely aligned with below the line behaviours and thinking, while creative leadership styles are aligned with above the line behaviours and thinking. Reactive leaders tend to be more problem-oriented and defensive, while creative leaders tend to be more solution-oriented and proactive.
By focusing on above the line behaviours and thinking, leaders can cultivate a more creative approach to leadership. This includes taking ownership, being accountable, and seeking out new opportunities and ideas. By contrast, below the line behaviours and thinking can lead to a reactive, problem-oriented approach to leadership that stifles creativity and innovation.
To cultivate above the line behaviours, to limit emotional reactivity, and to create a more positive work environment, leaders can work with a coach to develop the following 5 skills:
Self-awareness: Leaders need to develop self-awareness, which means being aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This awareness allows leaders to recognise when they are becoming emotionally reactive and take steps to manage their emotions.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment and observing one's thoughts and feelings without judgment. Leaders can practice mindfulness through techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and focusing on their senses.
Emotional regulation: Leaders need to learn how to regulate their emotions effectively. This involves recognising and managing their emotional triggers, expressing their emotions in a healthy way, and reframing negative thoughts.
Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Leaders who are empathetic are better able to manage their emotional reactions because they can put themselves in the shoes of others and see situations from multiple perspectives.
Communication skills: Leaders need to develop strong communication skills to express their emotions effectively and to listen to others. Effective communication helps to reduce misunderstandings and conflict, which can lead to emotional reactivity.
By developing self-awareness, practicing mindfulness, regulating emotions, cultivating empathy, and improving communication skills, leaders can limit their emotional reactivity and thinking, leaders can practice mindfulness and self-awareness, seek out feedback from others, and work to develop a growth mindset that focuses on learning and development. This can help leaders to become more proactive and solution-oriented and build organisations that are more innovative and adaptable in the face of change and uncertainty.
There are, of course, alternative (or complimentary approaches) to 360-feedback and personality assessments. These can also help leaders identify their blind spots and develop more effective leadership styles:
Coaching: Coaching is a process in which leaders work one-on-one with a coach to develop their leadership skills and overcome challenges. A coach can help leaders identify their blind spots, set goals, and develop strategies to become more effective leaders.
Peer Feedback: Peer feedback involves receiving feedback from other leaders in similar roles. This can provide leaders with valuable insights into how they are perceived by others and identify areas for improvement.
Self-reflection: Leaders can also engage in self-reflection to identify their blind spots and develop strategies to become more effective leaders. This can include journaling, meditation, or simply taking time to reflect on their leadership style and behaviours.
Regardless of the assessment tool or approach used, the key is for leaders to be open to feedback and willing to work on their blind spots. By identifying and addressing their weaknesses, leaders can become more effective in their roles and create a more positive and productive workplace culture. By developing a holistic understanding of their personality and behaviour, identifying overlapping insights, focusing on development opportunities, developing a personalised development plan, and tracking progress, a leader can supercharge their personal development and become a more effective leader.
In conclusion, personal development is a continuous process that is essential for leaders who want to be effective in their roles. By leveraging insights from these assessments, leaders can develop personalised plans that focus on areas for improvement, enabling them to become more effective leaders and drive organisational success. Utilising multiple assessments, such as the LVI, Enneagram, and DISC, can provide leaders with a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of their personality, communication style, and areas for development.