What are your thoughts regarding personality assessment/profile tools for leadership development? We are currently in the process of evaluating different vendors.

Answer: A few months ago, Tiger Woods was interviewed, after he had won seven tournaments in a row. When asked ‘What area of your game do you need to work on?’ his response was ‘Everything!’ If one of the world’s best athletes feels he needs to improve every aspect of his game, why is it that many healthcare executives don’t have the same attitude? Is it not paradoxical that the most accomplished people will seek coaching, but the ones that truly need it will not? My thought is that the former recognize the value in improving and are constructively dissatisfied, whereas the latter are comfortable where they are.

As you know, healthcare executives/managers may often need help with leadership and behavioral issues and not functional skills. In our coaching work with healthcare executives, we have found personality assessments/profiles useful. At a very basic level, a good personality profile can improve an executive’s self-awareness. At a more advanced level, it can become a structured tool that can be used as a roadmap for developing leadership and coaching skills.

Here’s the fundamental premise behind most personality profiles: A profile reveals in detail a person’s hardwired traits, some of which are considered to be strengths and some struggles. The idea is to build on your strengths and develop strategies (possibly learned behaviors) to overcome your struggles. When you understand your hardwired traits you begin to understand ‘why’ you do what you do and ‘why’ others do what they do.

There are no good vs. bad profiles; only those that are ideally suited within the context of roles or job positions. Each person has a unique place where they will add unique value. For example, I have a high ‘Driver’ trait and a moderate ‘Analytical’ trait. I could be a good accountant but I wouldn’t be an excellent one nor would I be very happy in that position. My natural ‘hard-wired’ traits lead me to seek quick results, risk, and the opportunity to make a difference in a challenging environment. That’s one of the reasons I’m in the healthcare industry!

A common mistake we all do is we often feel that other people ought to think like ourselves. This is a result of our hardwired traits. The initial impact of taking a personality assessment is the realization that people are indeed different and they think, feel, and process information in their own unique way. Managers who understand this will become more tolerant toward their subordinates and try to adjust their communication style to match that of their listeners. In addition to communicating more effectively, managers will also be able to anticipate how people would react in certain situations and what truly motivates them, thus enabling them to be more effective leaders.

In addition to improving leadership skills, communication, and talent assessment, personality profiles can also be used to strengthen teams. Strong, cohesive teams that leverage the giftedness of each member produce the best results. This is particularly true in healthcare settings where teamwork often has a significant impact on both clinical outcomes and overall organizational effectiveness.

In short, I highly recommend personality assessment tools and I would be happy to recommend the types of instruments we have successfully used in the healthcare industry.

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