Assessing Preferred Leadership Style
By Dr. Michelle Benson, Ed.D., FPA-BM Special Advisor
As a true leader, it is important to recognize your own personality style so you can help others find theirs. This personal recognition not only helps you bloom as a leader, but is an effective communication tool to use in reaching out to team members and people you meet. Leadership is tailored around your style, and when you have a firm concept of yours and confidence within it, you are practically unstoppable. Leadership is also about setting an example. Kouzes and Posner (2003) suggest setting a positive tone bright and early by expressing how much you appreciate the contributions of others.
Another technique in communicating as a leader is to identify your true colors which is an actual psychological model that has been around for quite some time. It is true that every one of us has a different way of approaching tasks and interacting with others. By identifying your true colors and becoming familiar with other color’s conceptual relationships, communication and personal understanding is now within grip of creating a very effective work environment and happy one at that. In the following assignment, I will share my results from the leadership style assessment and that from the true colors assessment and formulate if I think that the results were consistent with my skills, how they can be a source of strength to my organization, and how I may be able to improve on the areas of deficiency.
The Leadership Legacy Assessment
The Leadership Legacy Assessment is part of a curriculum that was written for an MBA program and was used at Harvard University and other top universities. It promotes understanding on how to build and maintain long-term leaders, and teaches how to reproduce the assessment’s characteristics for personal and professional use. However, this assessment goes even deeper than the revealing of personal characteristics, but asks the test taker what kind of legacy they will leave behind. Galford and Fazio (2006) state that the following steps are essential in building your leadership legacy: first it begins by honing one’s craft and becoming a trusted advisor to others. The advisor then carries these tenets of trust into the next role that of the trusted leader. Finally, leaders cultivate their legacies, making them better and more effective leaders today.
Upon completing the Leadership Legacy Assessment, I found that my scores were accurately in sync with six types of leaders: ambassador (17 out of 25), advocate (10 out of 25), people mover (23 out of 25), truth-seeker (21 out of 25), creative builder (19 out of 25), and experienced guide (24 out of 25). Upon analyzing each of the suggested natural roles more in depth, I found that my highest scoring category was spot on. Experienced guide was described as having the ability to listen and put myself in other people’s shoes. This leadership type also clarified what people have always told me that I am, a natural therapist. I do, in fact have the ability to rationalize through other people’s problems and help them find their way back on track.
I credit a large percentage of my leadership style on this role as an experienced guide. Renato Tagiuri, emeritus professor at the Harvard School, noted that natural “experienced guides” are often found one level down from the top in organizations. They get their greatest satisfaction from helping others get through the day and helping others see the bigger picture. Again, I do credit myself with my ability to empathize and for this, experienced leader was right on the money.
The second highest score was in the category of “people mover.” These leaders are said to have talent in recognition, motivation and natural leadership. This score is also very accurate because of how my actual instincts play a part not only in decision making, but in leadership duties. Leadership is not only at work for me, but at home and in the community. I do have the ability to see things through a larger lens of potential. I generally call it magnified optimism and now I know why. Students that I taught back in 2008 still reaching out to me falls into this category of leadership because they know I care, I am a people mover. At a not so far third place leadership style, truth seeker described me as a professor in the classroom. I am able to use good judgment, have a neutral point of view and am level headed. This role is said to exhibit unfailing competence in the leader’s field, helping people to understand new rules and policies, and act to preserve the integrity of the processes therein.
Ambassador and creative builder styles were within reasonable limits. Within my scored characteristics of an ambassador, I found my ability to handle situations with grace, respect and gentle persistence. And within my scored creative builder, I found my drive, happiness and sense of entrepreneurship. According to the description of this style: strength of belief in end result + ability to tolerate the process = creative builder. I can reflect on this because I do claim persistence in finishing what I start with toleration and an end goal in mind.
The lowest score that I received in the Leadership Legacy Assessment was that of an advocate. The leadership style of an advocate tends to have greater strength in persuasion, logical thinking, and articulation. This type of leader can argue a point on two entirely different trains of thought: linear and non-linear. Advocate leaders see things in black or white only, so would often need another type of leader (like a people mover) to convince employees to buy into the ideas of an advocate leader. Clearly this leadership style is the farthest from who I am because I see things in color and don’t need to persuade people with what is right. Interestingly, I see this type of leadership in my husband and now I may be able to use this to understand his thought process. All in all, the Leadership Legacy Assessment was spot on, a breath of fresh air, and confirmation of my talents as a leader.
The True Colors Personality Assessment
This assessment is used in self-identity and its long-term solutions make better relationships, both on a professional and personal basis. A leader could use this assessment in learning how to adjust to a certain person, or group of people for that connection that some people seek for in their lives. The assessment itself required the taker to just get a “sense” of each box and score them from one being the least to four being the most. My scores were as follows: orange (11), green (13), blue (15), and gold (11). Naturally, I wondered what this all meant, so here is what I found out. Blues love to talk, are direct, and have a nurturing personality. They also value relationships, need creativity, and make decisions based on feelings. This has me all over it. Some of blue’s stressors are: being overextended, and saying “no” to socializing. Personally, I can understand the overextended factor, but cannot agree with the saying no to socializing. I am very direct and do not have a problem saying no when socializing. I credit myself with the ability to see both sides and still remain neutral. In addition, I found it very interesting that only 12-25% of test takers scored blue as their highest color spectrum.
The second color in a not so far two-point difference was green. Greens are said to be more technical, logical and questioners of authority. The stressors of a green warn scorers to beware making a decision without the facts, to not waste time on things that make no sense, and to beware of idle chat. Honestly, I can reflect with only a small part of this colors leadership traits. As part of the general descriptions of this color, I agreed that I do push myself to improve, I do require intellectual freedom, am curious, and do enjoy an intriguing and philosophical discussion. This colors traits helped me understand why I loved taking statistics so much; because I do, according to green enjoy intellectual stimulation.
I did not agree with the traits of being intellectually isolated because I love to share what I have learned as a teacher. In addition, I did not agree with the green trait that work is play. I do admit that work is fun when you love what you do, but I do not consider work play. This is yet to be discovered. Interestingly, only 10-13% of test takers score into this colors traits. This color’s traits are ones that I will need to seek further understanding of in understanding my full leadership potential.
The last two categories: gold and orange were even in score (both 11’s) and also happen to be the top two scoring categories in test takers. Gold personalities scored in at 33-50% of test takers and orange scored in at 12-33% of test takers scores. So first, gold personalities are said to be measurers of their worth by completion, prefer orderliness and cleanliness, and are the safeguards of tradition. On the other hand, orange personalities resist commitment, thrive on crisis, like to be the center of attention, and are very competitive. To me, it is truly hard to believe that these two categories scored first and second place. Maybe I am just comfortable in my ways, but in the bigger picture, these two top scoring categories make up most of corporate America and are good to reference in reaching out and communicating with all types.
Are the results consistent with how you perceive your personality and leadership style?
My results of both the Leadership Legacy Assessment and the True Colors Personality Spectrum were spot on and confirmed what I have always thought about myself as a leader. I am a motivator at heart and at work. I thrive to help others reach their goals and have the ability to listen. I am a nurturer and from years of experience, people know that I care. I can see the bigger picture and think in color. These character traits are mine and I will be the happiest when I can use them to lead and represent a larger organization or position with more responsibility once I earn my Doctorate.
How can your style and personality be sources of strength to the organization?
The very first thing that I thought of when contemplating this question were my scores on the True Colors Personality Spectrum Assessment. I consider myself a very unique individual with unique abilities that are only accountable for 10-25% of the True Colors test takers. I feel very strongly about my leadership abilities and have put myself on the spot to test my personal theories on my ability to lead and react. I have found that when I am true to myself and my natural abilities, that my career grows in an upward direction. This is very true on my resume and as a heart-felt accomplishment. I completely believe that I am a strength to my organization’s mission and values and in the future it would be in my organization’s best interest to promote my abilities to a position where I can train others to learn my styles and act upon them to help others.
How can you improve upon the deficiencies depicted in the Leadership Legacy Assessment?
To answer this question fully, I will rely on the lowest scored leadership style “advocate” and try to determine how I can make improvements. According to the details of the advocate, they tend to be relentless, or in other words: harsh, severe and strict. In further description of this leadership style, advocates lead this way because of their survival through the roughest of waters, which is sort of motivating. Knowing this, I may be able to understand this type of leader more, but to work on trying to become this type of leader would take a leap of faith outside of myself. So, I will work on trying to be more articulate, rational, logical, and persuasive; all while staying true to myself and my natural abilities.
Dickey, D. (2014). Hue are you? True colors personality spectrum. Texas A & M Health Science Center. Retrieved from: http://www.medicine.tamhsc.edu/resource-team/docs/2014-meetings/hueareyouprezi090614.pdf
Discovering Our Personality Style through TRUE COLORS
Attachment: True Colors Personality Test.pdf
Galford, R.M. & Fazio, R. (2006) Your Leadership Legacy: Why looking toward the future will make you a better leader today. Harvard Business School Press. Retrieved from: www.yourleadershiplegacy.com/
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2003). Encouraging the heart: A leader’s guide to rewarding and recognizing others. Boston, MA: Jossey-Bass.
Leadership Legacy Assessment. Retrieved from: http://www.yourleadershiplegacy.com/assessment/assessment.php
The FPA-BM has as Special Advisor Dr. Michelle C. Benson, Ed.D. Dr. Michelle is a consultant, university professor and advisor to many. Dr. Michelle graduated from Northcentral University with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She holds a Master in Organizational Leadership/Management from Ashford University. Dr. Michelle has taught for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Community Health for Bachelor and Master level learners. Dr. Michelle also can motivate and lead her students to career and life changing opportunities. She is a student-centered education professional and is passionate to see success in people she encounters. Dr. Michelle has authored five journal publications and is always seeking ways to add more research to existing topics in leadership, learning and management.