The Importance of Self-AwarenessA key capacity for personal success and self-leadership is self-awareness. This is usually accomplished through self-reflection, experience, and feedback from others. One excellent way to increase self-awareness is the use of self-assessments, which are designed to assess various aspects of an individual, including strengths, thinking preferences, personality, and leadership styles. I have taken several of these self-assessments over the years and have decided to place the results from several of these here.
How Accurate Are These Instruments?
I always assume that the self-assessments I take are mildly accurate. I do think that some of them are useful. For me, self-awareness becomes clearer over time through experience, self-reflection, and feedback from others. These self-assessments can be useful ways to codify or explain some of the things you learn about yourself, and though one assessment might not reveal a lot, several together might be very useful.
So, below are several instruments that I have used for self-assessment over the past few years. I'll describe the instruments individually and share my results. At the end of the post, I will attempt to bring everything together into some kind of conclusion. (I am not sure how I will do that - this will be interesting...)
I took is the HBDI self-assessment in 2015. It assesses an individual's thinking preferences and helps the individual have a better sense of how they like to approach work and problem-solving situations. I thought it was interesting and was surprised to find that I am pretty balanced among the preferences. The image below shows my results, and I some of my analysis results are outlined below.
I scored as having a high preference in D - Experimental Self (holistic, intuitive, integrating, synthesizing), C - Feeling Self (Interpersonal, Feeling-based, Kinesthetic, Emotional), and B - Safekeeping Self (Organized, Sequential, Planned, Detailed). I scored in the middle range for the last quadrant, A - Rational Self (Logical, Analytical, Fact-based, Quantitative).
Specific characteristics of my thinking preferences, according to my results printout, include: imaginative, synthesizer, spatial, reader, conservative, controlled, logical, and analytical.
Apparently my profile is the clear majority profile for the female population. Weird.
StrengthsFinderAnother great instrument for self-assessment is the Clifton StrengthFinder. I took this self-assessment around 2004 or 2005. The goal of the assessment is to identify what the individual's natural strengths. It assumes that there are 34 naturally-occurring strengths, and that everyone has these strengths to some degree. The assessment takes the reader through a series of questions and identifies which of these strenghts are most dominant. Below are my top 5 strengths, according to this self-assessment:
- Focus - People exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
- Analytical - People exceptionally talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
- Learner - People exceptionally talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
- Intellection - People exceptionally talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
- Harmony - People exceptionally talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.
Emotional IntelligenceI took the SEI Emotional Intelligence Assessment by SixSeconds in 2014. The results were very interesting - I found that I was at least functional in all areas, and I scored skilled in the categories of Give Yourself and Choose Yourself. I scored as an expert in the skills of Engage Intrinsic Motivation, Exercise Optimism, and Pursue Noble Goals. This makes some sense to me - I have what might be a stronger than average ability to set goals, to remain optimistic about my ability to achieve them, and to have an inner sense of motivation to work toward the accomplishment of these goals.
Bolman and Deal Leadership StylesIn early 2015 I attended a presentation by Dr. Wendell Seaborne at Franklin University who discussed a leadership self-assessment that assesses and individual's leadership according to Bolman and Deal Leadership Styles, which include structural, human resources, political, and symbolic styles.
My results indicated that I am high in human resources leadership style and average in the structural and symbolic styles. I am low in the political style. This makes sense to me - I tend to focus on the people in a given situation and believe that they are ultimately the most critical resource in the knowledge society. I also tend to overlook political aspects of organizational work.
Giver/Taker/MatcherI recently read the book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. In this book, Adam Grant outlines his belief that there people tend to relate with others in three general ways: "givers give more than they get, takers get more than they give, and matchers aim to give and get equally; all can succeed." He goes on the submit that our society tends to underestimate the success of people who fall into the giver category, those who have a fundamental desire to give more than they receive from others.
I took Grant's online self-assessment, which indicates whether you are a giver, taker, or matcher. It appears, based on my results below, that I am a giver. I think this is largely true - I go out of my way to assist others in any way I can. I usually do this in the form of knowledge sharing, active listening, and supportive action (where possible). I am also fairly goal-oriented, which I believe tends to (hopefully) off-set the possibility of my becoming a pushover.
What Does It All Mean?I have found that self-reflection and self-observation all increase self-awareness. These kinds of assessments can be very useful in helping me understand myself. But I have a hard time trying to draw conclusions about what I have found. Many seem to confirm what I already knew or illuminate it in another light.
So, how does one effectively use these results? Do they really enhance our ability to change? I have no way of measuring whether they have actually helped. I can tell which ones have resonated with me on an emotional or spiritual level, but does that mean I have somehow changed or improved as a result? At any rate, these self- assessments are fun and illuminating, and I will probably keep taking them.