One of the leadership proverbs that have served me well is “When you mess up, fess up.” So let me fess up that my use of the words “identity” and “brand” in recent blogs has not been clear.

Now let’s get to clarity. “Identity” is who we are or who we perceive ourselves to be; hopefully the two align, but they don’t always (and that’s a whole ‘nother topic). “Brand” is who others perceive us to be. It’s best when our identity and our brand are in sync.

In a previous blog we examined one way to help determine our leadership brand: Ask those around us to describe us using three words or phrases.

Of course, our leadership identity starts with understanding who we are in God, our true identity. To further understand our leadership identity (how we behave relative to others), an assessment tool may prove beneficial. But be sure to read the directions on the label. All assessments are not created equal.

They vary in terms of their purpose (some describe our personality, some identify our preferences), their accuracy and their intended use (for individual use or an entire team). When taken out of context, they can be misleading. It’s important that we read the results of any assessment carefully and that we understand that an assessment contains clues, not conclusions.

Case in point: One assessment describes four different temperaments: melancholic, phlegmatic, choleric and sanguine. According to one profiler, sanguines are “very effective working with people.” Out of 40 points possible on the sanguine scale, I scored a 0 (yes, that’s zero with a “z”). Based on this assessment I would be a walking disaster as a pastor.

I’m sure the profiler would say this doesn’t mean I’m not effective with people; it just means I’m more effective at other aspects of leadership.

The StrengthsFinder assessment by Gallup identifies one of my strengths as “Relator,” which includes the following description: “They may know many people, and they can relate to all kinds of people. But they also have a very small group of friends with whom they have incredibly deep relationships.” This assessment does a better job of describing my interactions with people.

I’ve found assessments to be a good tool for helping me understand why I lead the way I do—a good first step to improving the way I lead. Used in their proper context, assessments are good instruments to have in our leadership toolkit.


Greg Wallace is the Chief Operating Officer for HRock Church in Pasadena, Calif. He loves teaching and helping others pursue their life’s passion. He is passionate about developing leaders, building organizations and helping people and groups thrive in the midst of change.

Comments