This “Outside Consultant” column by Dr. Jacque Anderson, assistant dean of Executive Education, ran in the Star Tribune on March 22, 2021.

If you’ve been in an organization for a while, you’ve likely participated in an assessment to expand your self-awareness and aid in your professional development. Assessments can be powerful tools, but with the plethora of options, choice is hard. In my doctoral study, I created a simple taxonomy for your initial consideration. In selecting an instrument, it is important to be clear on the development goal, and the required rigor of the instrument. Here are four categories to consider.

Style Preference

Style preferences are an aspect of personality that are more flexible and adaptable; assessments in this category help you to understand how you “show up.” With this awareness, using conscious control can increase your ability to connect with others. These assessments have a variety of foundations, but many are Jungian focusing on introversion, extraversion, thinking and feeling. These tools are great for self awareness and team development and can be facilitated by individuals that have gone through required training. Some examples include: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Insights Discovery, and DiSC.

Personality Assessments

Personality assessments are considered trait based and tend to reflect personality hardwiring and are more difficult to change but awareness is helpful. Assessments in this category are deeply researched and complex instrumentation that reflects personality and components of personality structure. Psychologist or specialty-trained professional administration is recommended. Examples include: Hogan instruments, California Psychological Inventory (CPI), and Strong Interest Inventory (SSI).

General Awareness and Model Inventories

Assessments in this category are designed to personalize a concept in service to a specific model or concepts in a particular book. These inventories are excellent in working on a specific focus area, such as understanding your strengths, how you deal with conflict, your cultural awareness, or your self-reported emotional intelligence, to name a few. Assessments in this general category vary in rigor. Examples include: StrengthsFinder, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode, Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), or EQi-2.0

360 and Multi-rater Instrumentations

These instruments solicit feedback related to leadership practices, characteristics, teamwork and general skills. The distinguishing feature of 360 feedback is that others rate you and give you the perspectives of your colleagues. Some instruments are designed within organizations, but mainstream examples include: Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), Leadership Circle Profile (LCP), Korn Ferry 360 Multi-rater, or Zenger Folkman 360.

Dr. Jacque Anderson is an assistant dean, Executive Education, at the University of St. Thomas.

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