Assessments Aren't The Last Word In Predicting Success

Some consultants earn their livings creating profiles of the "ideal leader" for each key position within their client organization. But that doesn't truly serve their clients' growth ambitions.

If I hear one more corporate trainer or consultant spew Myers Briggs acronyms, I may just explode.

You have heard this in the past. "I am an ENTJ; therefore, I lead people and communicate in the following way..."

Some consultants even earn their living creating profiles of the "ideal leader" for each key marketing, sales, or management position within their client organization. Is that truly serving their clients' growth ambitions? I think not. 

Just look around for examples of leaders and celebrities who defied the odds. 

Mike Tyson went from being known as the youngest heavyweight champion in history to a celebrity barbarian. He survived an ear-biting incident, ongoing struggles with women, the death of a 4 year old daughter, multiple seven figure lawsuits, two divorces, and imprisonment. He transformed his life through Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous and turned to a more peaceful pasttime: raising pigeons. If a personality-assessment zealot tried to predict his behavior based on his Myers Briggs profile, they would have been wrong.

Here is a contemporary business example. Read Walter Isaacson's extraordinary biography of Steve Jobs, a man who defied all "ideal leader" profiles. According to Alan Weiss, "you encounter someone who, for a great deal of his life, was erratic, uncaring, often venal, frequently unwashed, and almost always condescending. Yet he forged a seminal organization which retained talent, innovated constantly, generated huge profits, and transformed a great deal of our professional and personal lives."

Join forces with advisors who are willing to collaborate, not dictate, the ideal solution for your organization.

Much like there is no perfect growth plan or template for B2B companies, there is no single survey or profile that predicts great leaders or future financial success. Weiss suggests that we "challenge the self-anointed gurus who insist leadership is best by consensus, or open book, or survey ratings, or financial focus. The more we try to homogenize and standardize behaviors, the more we suppress those who can shine in their own manner and in their own time."

Even a boxer from Brooklyn knows that.

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[Image: Flickr user Brian Birzer]

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  • Lisa Nirell

    Michael, interesting. I have met over 100 consultants and coaches who use instruments such as DISC, MBTI, and others for the very reasons you listed below. My argument is based on the multitude of comments I have gathered over 10 years of commiserating with other consultants. Improper use of technology, tools, and assessments is nothing new (unfortuately). Are you a member of this professional associations?

  • michael j pastor

    MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) shouldn't even be the first word of predicting success.  It's not supposed to be used for that purpose to begin with.  It's not designed for it, and it's unethical to use it in such manner.  According to the Association of Psychological Type, a profesional association for MBTI trainers, it shouldn't be used for hiring, firing, team selection or promotion.  So your whole column is basically a straw man argument.  Anybody using the MBTI for such is actually abusing it.

  • Lisa Nirell

    No angry blogger here! Just a provocateur.

    I have used assessments in my business for over 10 years. They are one of many determinants. Some leaders lean on them as their primary indicator of future success, and throw the assessment language around in casual discussion. Neuroscience proves that it just not true.

  • Jim Wallert

    Behavioral profies are not a silver bullet or the sole determinate of successs in a particular position.  But profiles along with past experiences are much better than the "gut" selection process alone.   Even the examples cited behaviors were partially the products of their conditioning thus attitudes and yes, behavioral traits.
    There is probably even an angry blogger profile?