Do you want to unlock the secrets to becoming a more effective leader, or identify the next potential leaders within your organisation? Understanding personality traits can be a powerful tool in achieving both goals.
In this article, we delve into personality profiling, its strengths and pitfalls, and how best to recognise and cultivate leadership potential. Whether you're a current leader or aspiring to become one, this article offers valuable guidance on how to improve your leadership skills and build a strong team.
What is personality?
One popular tool for assessing personality is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which is based on the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. The MBTI identifies 16 distinct personality types, each differentiated by specific preferences in how individuals perceive and interact with the world around them.
Many HR professionals rely on personality assessment tools to spot leadership potential because they provide a standardised framework for quantifying enduring individual differences. By understanding an individual's personality type, it is possible to tailor leadership development programs to suit their strengths and help them overcome any potential weaknesses. But there are problems with these frameworks.
How successful are personality profiling tools for spotting leadership potential?
Personality profiling provides a broad overview of an individual's innate tendencies and preferences. It can be helpful in identifying an individual's strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they might naturally approach different situations. However, their predictions are limited when only based on a person’s personality.
Understanding ourselves through personality profiling assessment tools is an important component of personal growth. These tools allow us to gain insights into our innate tendencies and how we experience the world around us. However, one of the limitations of personality profiling is that it can be overly simplistic, potentially leaving us feeling confined to one specific type and ‘boxed in’. As such, relying on these tools alone to determine what type of leader is a mistake.
Personality profiling is not a reliable indicator of leadership potential because it does not account for how people adapt to changing situations and learn new skills over time. While personality does inform our behaviour, it cannot capture how we have grown and learned to adapt to the world in our unique style. In contrast, behaviour is more dynamic and can change based on the environment, making it a more accurate indicator of present leadership potential.
Many successful leaders have emerged by gaining a deeper understanding of themselves, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and then developing effective behaviours to interact with those who are different from them. Leadership can be learned, and effective behaviours can be developed.
If you are reading this article to gain insights into your own leadership potential or to identify potential leaders in your organisation, consider focusing on behaviour rather than personality. Behaviour profiling provides a more accurate understanding of an individual's decision-making processes, motivations, potential areas of conflict, and their suitability for a particular role or environment. Ultimately, by looking beyond personality, we can unlock the potential of all individuals to become effective leaders.
Behaviour is a better indicator of effective leadership potential than personality
Assessing a person's preferred behaviours or "behavioural preferences" provides a more effective evaluation of their leadership style than personality profiling.
Behaviour is measurable as it is observable, and there are common behaviour traits that can be grouped together. Our behaviours develop throughout our lifetime, making them coachable for greater success, whereas our personality remains relatively consistent over time. Moreover, we have preferred behaviours, which are more natural to us, which we adapt to do well in the world. There are other behaviours that we may find more unusual, and so we need to practice these to relate better to those we lead to achieve success.
Our behavioural preference combination is unique to each of us, which means that everyone brings a valuable contribution to the team. Behavioural preference profiling assesses an individual's unique behavioural profile, which reveals the leadership styles that they are likely to exhibit across a range of changing circumstances. Understanding our own behavioural preferences is crucial to our leadership development since it is how everyone else experiences us.
Our behaviour is a key indicator of our leadership potential because it can be adapted and developed to respond to changing circumstances. Unlike personality, behaviour is not fixed, and we can cultivate and develop new behaviours over time. By focusing on behaviour rather than personality, we can identify our unique strengths and weaknesses and learn new skills to become effective leaders.
In summary, behaviour profiling provides a more accurate and dynamic assessment of leadership potential than personality profiling alone. By understanding our own unique behavioural preferences, we can leverage our strengths and develop new skills to become successful leaders.
So what is the best behavioural profile to have as a leader?
Here is the good news: all behavioural profiles have the potential to lead effectively, there isn't a one-size-fits-all behavioural profile for successful leadership.
Leaders can come from any behavioural profile, if they have a solid understanding of their own strengths and development areas and are able to empathise with and flex their behaviours to communicate effectively with others who have different motivational needs.
“But wait! What about ‘authentic leadership’ – am I not supposed to be leading purely as my ‘authentic self’?”
Yes! Authenticity in leadership is still highly valued. However, being an authentic leader does not mean leading solely based on one's own behavioural preferences. Rather, it involves understanding and embracing one's authentic style while also flexing behaviours to effectively communicate with and motivate others. This requires humility, self-awareness, and the ability to draw on one's strengths while navigating weaknesses. Ultimately, understanding how others are motivated and how they experience us in their world is invaluable wisdom that can help leaders excel in their roles, more effectively reach agreements and build successful teams.
What does great leadership look like?
At C-me we visually represent leadership behavioural preferences around a colour wheel, which represents the range of leadership contributions people bring. Every position offers a powerful leadership gift.
Depending on the circumstances a person will flex around the wheel. With more practice they can flex further, demonstrating a wider leadership capability.
- Where do you identify your own leadership preference on this wheel?
- Where do you feel you move to under pressure?
- Can you spot on the wheel where you need to recruit your next leader?
- Effective leadership can be learned, and behaviours can be developed.
- While personality is relatively stable, behaviour is malleable and can be coached for greater success.
- Our behaviour emerges from our personality and it is how others experience us.
- Personality profiling is a poor tool to assess leadership potential because it cannot reflect how a person has learned to adapt their leadership style to be effective in changing circumstances.
- Behavioural profiling reveals a person's unique combination of behavioural preferences. Everyone is different and brings a valuable contribution to the team.
- All behavioural profiles have the potential to lead successfully.
- Avoid restricting your own leadership potential or the pool of talent in your leadership programme by employing behaviour preference profiling that can recognise the potential in everyone.
- Aim to create the ideal environment to grow effective leaders by assessing behavioural preferences and how each behaviour type leaders authentically, then provide opportunities for leadership that looks different.
Who offers behavioural profiling?
There are some great behavioural profiling tools available in the market. If you are looking for a tool to bolster the leadership programme in your organisation, or spot the leadership style of your potential new recruits, or assist your clients with their leadership development then book a demo with us and discover how C-me can help you. We are experts in behavioural preference profiling and implementing the benefits across our clients’ organisations, from leadership development all the way to mitigating operating risks and organisational behaviour.
If you would like more information on how to choose a psychometric profiling tool, see our article ‘5 questions to ask when choosing a psychometric profiling tool’