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Um…Who Am I, Really?

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”  ~Abraham Maslow


As leaders, we often hear about the value of self-awareness, especially as an important step in managing our impact on others.  One of the means to grow our self-awareness is through the use of assessments.  You might be thinking, “But I already know myself.  Why do I need an assessment to tell me what I already know? 

Here are a few reasons that might change your mind.

  1. Assessments help us to see patterns.  We may see our behaviors in various relationships or situations in our lives as being different.  However, there are often underlying patterns to our behaviors, and a good personality assessment can help to draw those themes out. Being aware of these patterns can help us to understand the past as well as assist us in predicting our behavior in future unknown circumstances.  If we can foresee our behavior, we have a greater likelihood of being able to self-manage our conduct.
  1. Assessments help us to generate words.  Even if you have a high level of understanding of your own behavioral patterns, it can be difficult to put those behaviors into words. Assessments provide terminology, not as a way to label or define us, but to facilitate conversations with others. For example, the ability to tell your co-worker, “I’m an introvert,” helps that person to know not to place you front and center stage without warning. Language provided by assessments can help us to use each other’s strengths in the most powerful way.
  1. Assessments help us to feel normal.  There is something extremely normalizing about discovering that our behavior falls into patterns.  An assessment that rings true standardizes our conduct and makes us aware that are others out there that fit into similar personality styles.  We are not so weird after all!
  1. Assessments help us to feel unique.  This statement may seem in contrast to the previous point, but stick with me on this one.  A reliable and valid personality assessment can help us to normalize our behavior while simultaneously making us feel unique. The reason for the latter is because assessments generally measure personality along several different dimensions, and the combination of these traits leads to our unique selves.  So, we are a little weird, but that’s a good thing!

When choosing a personality assessment, know that they are not created equal, and you should choose one that meets your specific requirements.  We are partial to the Birkman Method because it not only provides measurements of usual behaviors but also elucidates what we need from others in order to maximize our performance. These needs are hidden to others, often even to ourselves, and Birkman provides the language to help us communicate our needs.  Roger Birkman said, “[T]here is no right or wrong, no good or bad, in terms of individual interests and interpersonal needs.  What does matter, however, is awareness—the ability to address the contrasting, and often, opposite needs that people have.”  Imagine a workplace where everyone is giving others what they need to be at their best!

At Milestone Leadership, we believe that gaining valuable self-awareness through the use of assessments helps create leaders worth following.


Carla Swearingen, Ph.D. 
Associate – Milestone Leadership

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