Leatrice was even more steamed than I was.

A client of mine had experienced a rapid and successful rise to lead a large and storied OEM that itself was a division of a larger organization. At this point, my client was under consideration for larger roles in the parent organization. A fancy pants consulting firm had put him through their interviews and assessments. He had shared it with me. His results were stellar, in particular his 360º interviews with his management, peers, and direct reports were exceptionally favorable. His division's business performance was excellent.

Then the kicker. And it couldn't have been worse if it had been a literal kick. The report said, notwithstanding all his success to this point, his personality assessment identified him as an introvert, and introversion was a negative indicator for success in top leadership.

I had read Leatrice's doctoral dissertation: A Method to My Quietness: A Grounded Theory Study of Living and Leading with Introversion. Leatrice and I had been colleagues two decades ago. I had promoted her to leadership, and supported her taking my position when I left. She's held other important leadership positions since. Leatrice's dissertation documented with extensive research and numerous case studies "leaders who identified as introverts and were typed as such on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®)." Leatrice identifies as an introvert. I shared my client's experience with her.

We agreed the conclusion of my client's evaluation couldn't have been more wrong. The assessor(s) slapped an identity on a complex and dynamic individual; and that identity separated that individual from himself, and then separated the organization from the richness of his potential contribution.

Of course, it's a whole lot easier than thinking.

I'm following Leatrice's lead in this post.

From her dissertation: ". . . personality constitutes only a small component of leadership. Gough (1990) emphasized this need to nest our leadership insights in a whole series of contexts: 'There are cognitive, experiential, familial, morphological, physiological, and situational factors related to the occurrence of leadership, and its effectiveness. . .'"

Ooof! This requires a whole lot of information gathering, a lot of careful thinking, and what's often called an open mind.

We have deep cognitive tendencies; and we have unconscious heuristics, often called habits of mind. These aren't exactly alike for any two people, but we often share tendencies with others. This identifying of similarities with others can make it easier to align with them. When we experience differences, others are easier to dismiss.

These keep our brains from working too hard. That's why we like identities.

We like them so much that the world is full of identity-making assessments like the one given to my client. Astrology gives me an identity. IQ tests give me another. The 20th century was a flowering of them. Are they valid?

For me, any identity-making tool that makes us conscious that we don't all think alike nor experience the world in the same way -- without having to judge those others as less intelligent, less moral, or less careful than we are -- can open us up to others. Being open to difference that doesn't provoke derogation is beneficial.

By this standard, nearly all of the identity-making assessments have the validity of a placebo. Whether it's astrology or one of the globally-used personality inventories, a statistically significant percentage of people will be primed to be more open to each other. However, another statistically significant percentage will become more closed and dismissive of others. The typecasting allows them to feel more intelligent, moral, and/or careful than others..

As for the academic research standard for validity "The validity of a research study refers to how well the results among the study participants represent true findings among similar individuals outside the study." Only a few rise to that standard.

The next post explores a handful that meet that standard. It won't be the definitive list. There will be many others we don't explore that go beyond the placebo effect. I selected the ones for the next post because I can vouch that they will have a powerful return on investment if used as directed and under the conditions for which they have been designed.

Referenced in this letter:

Leatrice: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leatrice-oram-a0638123/
OEM: https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/valuation/original-equipment-manufacturer-oem/
A method to my quietness:https://aura.antioch.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1307&context=etds

Kairos for Business FAQ Terms Privacy