Business leaders need to understand their team’s personality, drivers, and skills to optimize team dynamics, enhance communication, and foster a productive work environment.
Personality and skills assessments can serve as valuable tools for business leaders to gain insights into their own and their team members’ unique traits and characteristics. When considering a personality assessment, it’s essential to differentiate between those based on models and those based on research.
Model-Based Personality Assessments
Model-based personality assessments rely on theoretical models of personality, which consist of a set of assumptions about the nature and structure of personality. These models often stem from the work of psychologists who have dedicated their careers to studying personality. Some of the most well-known models include the Big Five, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the Enneagram.
Model-based assessments are more theoretical in nature and aim to capture the basic structure of personality and its various facets. They are often based on the work of a specific psychologist or a particular theory of personality. For example, the MBTI is based on Carl Jung’s theories, while the Enneagram is rooted in ancient spiritual and psychological wisdom.
While model-based assessments can offer valuable insights into the fundamental structure of personality, their accuracy and validity may be limited due to their reliance on theoretical frameworks rather than empirical data. Nevertheless, they can still provide business leaders with a general understanding of their team members’ personality traits and potential areas for growth.
These assessments can also improve team dynamics. When people recognize that a significant portion of behavior is driven by personality type, which is hardwired, it removes judgment (“How could anyone do it that way?”) and creates greater room for understanding.
For example, if your team has a majority of introverts, it’s easier to understand why they are quiet in meetings. They have a lot to offer, just in a different way than individuals that tend to dominate a group conversation. Getting someone to switch from being an introvert to an extrovert is highly unlikely, but ensuring you create space for them to participate after they can reflect and collect their thoughts produces amazing results.
Research-Based Personality Assessments
Research-based personality assessments are grounded in empirical data collected from a large number of people. Psychologists conduct various types of research, such as surveys, interviews, and experiments, to study the differences in people’s personalities.
Research-based assessments are more empirical in nature and often provide a more accurate evaluation of an individual’s personality. However, they can be more complex and time-consuming to complete than model-based assessments. Additionally, some research-based assessments may require specialized training to administer and interpret.
Examples of research-based assessments include the NEO Personality Inventory, which is based on the Big Five model but has undergone extensive empirical validation, the Leadership Multi-Rater Assessment of Personality (LMAP), the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which is widely used in clinical settings, and our own Pathfinder assessment.
Choosing the Right Assessment for Business Leaders
Determining the most appropriate personality assessment for your professional needs depends on your specific goals and preferences. If you are a business leader seeking a general understanding of your own or your team members’ personalities, or if you prefer a simple, accessible assessment, a model-based assessment such as the MBTI or Enneagram may be a suitable option.
However, if you require a more accurate and nuanced understanding of personality traits, a research-based assessment will be the better choice.
For example, if you’re looking to make the first sales hire in your startup, looking for the right kind of people to work in your self-managed organization, or even looking to launch new products or existing products into new markets, then you’ll need a Pathfinder.
That’s someone who doesn’t accept the status quo when faced with new challenges or opportunities. Rather they innovate and find a new way and, in doing so, create a path that benefits the whole not just the self.
Years of empirical research has yielded the deep skills that differentiate someone who is a Pathfinder from someone who isn’t.
Nerding Out on Assessments
If you want to get into the weeds on our approach to assessments, you are now in the right spot.
While there is some overlap between the approaches noted above, the methodology we used for developing the Pathfinder assessment was mostly informed by the rigorous criteria and best practices for useful evaluation.
Given that, the broad construct of a Pathfinder was operationalized into four primary (modules) and 13 sub-categories (values) based on the work experience of The Pathfinder Company team, interviews with business leaders, as well as interviews with recognized Pathfinders— not theory.
This step was expanded by an academic literature review of the categories and a review of existing measurement tools.
We use a phrase-pair slider in the Pathfinder Assessment test. The decision to utilize a slider in rating scores between opposing statements was based on the clear—and relatively new—strength demonstrated in semantic differential measurement, and the statements themselves are stated in such a way that people cannot guess a “right” answer. The internal consistency of the tool is determined by calculating Cronbach’s Alpha and inter-item correlations.
We don’t consider the Pathfinder Assessment to be a personality test, per se, but rather a test that finds deep skills and attitudes.
We warned you that part was in the weeds.