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The Fairest Of Them All? Aren’t They All?

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Hi, I’m Elijah Lim. Mirror, mirror, on the wall…who’s the best assessment of them all? Now, you will realize that there are many psychometric tools, there are many leadership assessments, personality tests, team assessments, you name it. Love them or hate them, one thing’s for certain – they’re here to stay, they’ve been used for many, many years and I think people and organizations will continue to use them, and they do have their place. And in fact, in many organizations, they are actually rather useful. Now, you may be one of those people who sit there thinking to yourself “No, I hate these psychometric assessments, all these leadership 360s…”  so on and so forth…but open your mind a little bit and remember – what they do is usually present one side of a person. My favourite word to describe them is they are a snapshot. And they could be an optical snapshot, or they could be an X-ray snapshot. But they are all still snapshots. They form a basis for continued conversation. The problem is – people love labels. And people like to label either themselves or label other people as “You’re this” and “You’re that”, and when you examine it closely, a lot of the labels refer to behaviours and maybe to multiple intelligences. Your interests, your strengths. Very few of the labels will relate to your values or to your leadership competencies, or your leadership attributes, leadership qualities.

May I suggest that we take a more holistic view of people? And if you look up here, you will find that I have put down values, leadership attributes; over here I have put behavioural style, and of course multiple intelligences if you’re familiar with the work of Howard Gardner. By the way, this is by no means the comprehensive list. It is just to give an illustration of how we should be looking at people. How we should be appraising a person in total. And even when that is done – I don’t care if you use four assessments, or if you use seven, or if you use fourteen. Some companies give their people, their executives, their up-and-coming guys, a whole battery of assessments. Their view is that if all the assessments point to the same thing, well, that’s you.

Well, yes, that’s true. It IS that person. Bear in mind, however, the snapshot. People grow. People either grow bigger or they grow smaller, in terms of personal attributes, in terms of character qualities, in terms of wisdom, or otherwise. So, let’s have a look at two hypothetical people to explain what I mean.

Fairest of them all

The first guy – let’s begin with James. Now, James, after doing a values assessment, finds that his top two values are diligence and punctuality. James can be depended upon to do a job really, really, well. And James is someone who is never late. For his leadership competencies, he is best at what we call “Enable others to act”. Now this of course is taken from the framework of Kouzes & Posner, The Leadership Challenge, and this is one of the five leadership practices. So, we have here his values, diligence and punctuality, his strongest leadership attribute is to enable others to act, his behaviour style, according to the DISC parlance, is an S style. And his intelligences are mathematical and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence. How would you describe James?

Well, first of all, we need to recognize that a person’s primary drivers for behaviour are actually the values. So, if James scores very highly on diligence and punctuality, that will be his main characteristic. Nine times out of ten, maybe ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you can expect him to be diligent, you can expect him to do a job really, really, well. You can expect him to be early, he won’t even be ON time, he will be IN time. In fact, sometimes he might even turn up fifteen, twenty minutes later (Correction: should be earlier).

Leadership trait – he strongly subscribes to helping other people, to developing others, bringing out the best in them. That is what enable others to act is all about. What is his behaviour style? He’s an S style, what some people call the Steady style. And what this means is that James will do things for people, without being asked. James is someone who can be depended upon. And he will very often do things for other people at his own expense. Ties in very well with being diligent, with being punctual. The reason James wants to be punctual is he wants to ensure that things are prepared, that the chairs are arranged, for example, the food is there, or something else. But he wants to make sure that everyone has a good experience. His intelligences could be mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic. Now, a person with these intelligences…James is very good, of course, mathematically speaking, at estimating. One look and he knows whether it’s enough, insufficient, too much. He knows that. Now because he is both diligent and punctual, James, being a bodily-kinaesthetic person, will also have a tendency to do things hands-on. In other words, he may not ask other people to do it, but instead, he will go and arrange things himself, which ties in very well also with “Enabling others to act”, with the S style and with the bodily-kinaesthetic kind of intelligence that he has.

Let’s look at another person. Example, Misbari. Misbari’s top two values are resourcefulness and hospitality. His leadership….he scores highest in the leadership attribute called “Individualized Consideration”. And that of course is taken from Bass & Avolio – one of also the five leadership practices. His behaviour is an ID. Now, Misbari is someone that can be described as “You will not get a word in”, because he talks a lot. And his intelligences will be interpersonal intelligence as well as maybe musical intelligence. How does Misbari behave?

Well, first of all, he’s always looking for a better way of using existing stuff. Resourcefulness is an attribute that says “Hey, let’s make the best use of what we have”, and he does it, at the same time, to make sure that everyone feels welcome. he makes sure that the function will go well. And he takes great pains to make sure that each and every one of the guests, if you’re talking about a function, is seen to. That every guest has got their tastes catered for, everyone is made to feel welcome, the music is right, and so on. That will come from his leadership high score of “Individualized consideration”. And how does Misbari do it? He does it by speaking to people, by giving people a vision. He is someone – the ID trait in the DISC parlance is the most persuasive of all the combinations. So Misbari, unlike James, would have a tendency to get people to do the work rather than doing the work himself. Would he be more effective than James? I don’t know – it depends on the context, and both of these styles have their pros and cons. Both James and Misbari just need to recognize that these are their tendencies, and so operate according to what works best for them. Now because Misbari is also interpersonal, he will find it easy to persuade people to do what he wants. He would be in fact, the embodiment of what Eleanor Roosevelt used to say, “Diplomacy. The art of letting other people have YOUR way”. Misbari would be very, very good at that. And one of the ways in which he gets people, he encourages people, is also because he’s musically inclined. He will tend to use his musical abilities to influence people as well.

So here we have a very very simple comparison of two people using the values, the leadership, the behavioural styles and the multiple intelligences. So instead of asking the question “Who is the greatest, the fairest, the bestest, the mostest of them all?”, ask “Which facet of a person does this assessment or this framework describe best? And what else do we need to describe the whole person, and how can we use this assessment or this battery of assessments, to start a conversation?” Because people don’t stop growing. This is Elijah Lim, thanks for watching, have a good day!

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