Over the course of my leadership career, I have found assessments to be a good tool for helping me understand why I lead and manage the way I do. As I mentioned in my previous blog, when used in their proper context, assessments are good instruments to have in our leadership toolkit.
The proper context includes using such assessments along with our identity—not in place of our identity.
For example, an assessment I had taken as part of a leadership class identified me as goal-oriented (versus people-oriented). So, not surprisingly I had failed to visit any of the three field locations under my supervision during the first six months of a job I held managing a training group that was co-located with its clients (too busy creating a new strategy for the overall organization).
Then I was given a cross-training assignment to manage a field operations group located in more than 15 service centers throughout southern California. The director of the group had a practice of visiting each location to provide a “state of the union” address about the organization’s performance. Wouldn’t you know it? I took over the group just when it was time to make those presentations. So I was forced to get out of my office.
To make a long story less long, by the time I resumed my regular assignment, I had learned the value of being “out in the field.” I couldn’t wait to visit the field locations in my own organization. About every six weeks or so, I would occupy a cubicle in one of the locations all day, and we would all have lunch together.
As I became more comfortable with my teammates, my sense of humor began to show up, which sometimes borders on the silly side. (A few members of the HRock staff probably remember me in a wig as I interviewed Pastor Ché as part of the Oprah Wallace show.) And as my teammates experienced my sense of humor, they saw “the boss” in a whole different light. Once that bond was made, I was very much a people person.
I’m probably still more goal-oriented than people-oriented (I think the assessment got it right). But what I learned from this episode was to get in touch with my personal identity (including the silly part)—not just my leadership identity—as part of influencing good people to good outcomes.