You Can ChangeWhen we take personality tests we need to understand that they are snapshots not indictments. They are a point to grow from. It’s easy to confuse behavior and personality. Personality is reflected in behavior. But, behavior can be changed. One may be especially competitive. However, one need not be boorish or rude.
In a recent TeleForum presented by LeadingNews, Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, stated that personality testing can lead to stereotyping. To say my personality type is this and is unchangeable is wrong thinking. Executive coaches that believe that people can change are much more effective than executive coaches that do not believe people can change. This may seem like a “Duh!” moment, but it is surprising how many people talk about personality testing as though people cannot change. If you don’t believe people can change, coaching is the wrong business for you to be in.
Goldsmith commented on a common misconception surrounding the new emphasis we now see being placed in the build-on-your-strengths movement. The idea of building on your strengths is an effective life strategy but not an excuse. He stated:
The build-on-your-strengths idea makes total sense when it’s at the level of the occupation. For example, Tiger Woods should be a golfer, not a stand-up comedian. He’s building on his strengths becoming a golfer and he shouldn’t be a stand-up comedian. On the other hand, I think what happens on the build-on-your-strengths stuff, is people misinterpret it. So they would say, “Well, Tiger Woods is a great driver, so he doesn’t have to worry about putting. He can ignore his putting.” He really cannot ignore his putting. It’s part of his job. If you’re a leader and you’re great at strategy but terrible with people, you can’t just sit there; if your CEO, and say, “It doesn’t matter.” It does matter. It all matters. You can’t sit there an ignore part of your job and say “I’m not good at that therefore I have an excuse to ignore it.” All that does is reinforce a useless stereotype.While most advocates of build-on-your-strengths do not encourage that, Goldsmith is right. The idea is often misinterpreted. We must build on our strengths and minimize activities that call upon our weaknesses, but our weaknesses have to be dealt with. And that requires some behavior modification. Too often it can be taken an excuse to do-your-own-thing and not a position to grow and learn from. We can’t let ourselves fall into the trap of saying, “That’s just the way I am” because it’s hard to change. It may be the way you are, but you can be better. You can grow if you decide to. As a leader you have an obligation to.
Mark Sanborn said in a recent interview that he thinks most of us “sell ourselves short in terms of the impact that we can have in the world or in the marketplace, or in our homes and communities. We all have the opportunity, and maybe to a degree, an obligation, to take whatever talents we've been given and develop them to the fullest, so that we can more positively benefit and contribute to others.”
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