A pastor once commented, “Why doesn’t anyone repent after taking a personality test?” His sentiment was that someone could take a test and use the test to justify their jerkish behavior as being “strong-willed” or their passive behavior as being a “processor.” It is not an uninformed comment, as you have likely seen people wrongly use an assessment to declare, “See, this is why I am this way.” And you shuddered.
While I would not classify myself as a huge proponent of personality tests, I have used them in settings in which I lead because I find them very helpful. They are not the end-all of leadership and we must remember that people are much more than their personality profile’s color, animal, or mix of letters. But they can enhance your leadership in at least three ways:
1. The team grows in appreciation for one another
Each person on the team is different, fashioned by God with a unique personality and gifting. A personality assessment can help the team learn one another and appreciate the different approaches each person brings. Each time I have brought a team through the exercise, there is laughter and “a-ha” moments as we get a better glimpse of the beauty of different perspectives.
2. The team learns to communicate to others differently.
Wise leaders communicate in the language of the person receiving the communication, and our personality impacts how we prefer to receive communication. Personality assessments have helped me identify the people on my team who need more time to process and those who enjoy impromptu meetings.
3. The team develops a common framework.
Common language and frameworks help unify a team in day-to-day activity. When a team has internalized a personality assessment into the culture, the language of that tool serves as shorthand for describing new players and for asking for other perspectives.
There are a plethora of personality tests, and advocates debate which is the most research-validated, which is most “sticky” to remember, and which is best to use in different settings. With our leadership team, we use the Insights Discovery tool to help each other understand our unique personalities. The tool is validated and has proven helpful to our team in serving and communicating with one another. Our Auxano consulting team often uses the tool when consulting with churches.
We can both repent and take a personality test!