How many leadership assessments have you completed?  Have you taken MBTI?  Kolbe? Insights? DISC? (I could go on and on).  There are a plethora of leadership instruments that exist to help us better understand ourselves. As a leadership development professional and executive coach, I have used many of these tools with my clients, as well as on myself.

Pattern of Validation vs Recurrent Discovery

It is easy, however, to fall into what I would call a “pattern of validation”, using the tool to validate what we already know about ourselves (consciously or sub-consciously) versus using it as a tool of “recurrent discovery”.  As a leader in my own right, I am not immune to falling back to the pattern of validation and had an awakening that I would like to share.

Recently, our team completed the certification in FIRO-B/FIRO-Business. A great tool that helps individuals understand personal expressed and wanted needs across 3 need areas: Involvement, Influence and Connection. FIRO-Business is a tool used to investigate how an individual might interact more effectively with their peers, helping them consider how they appear to others and whether that is working for them.

Personally, my results were not unexpected. I have a consistent pattern – I am a Red in DISC, Director in Insights, etc. As I read my FIRO-Business report, this is what I concentrated on. The elements of this report that validated what I already knew about myself gave me that feeling of “yup, that is me” relief that we often gravitate to when reviewing a self-assessment report.

I could have chalked this up to another great tool that tells me a variation of what I already know. A very satisfying result in itself, but certainly not a powerful “a-ha” moment. Like a good student, I persevered. Through the new lenses offered during the workshop and through the eyes of my peers, new truths began to appear. I began to notice some new truths about how, as a highly task-oriented person, I might be perceived and how the need for structure might have an impact on the efficacy of others.  My report highlighted some unintended consequences of my expressed need for Influence and gave me a window to consider new possibilities that would increase my impact.

Avoid the Pattern of Validation

As I reflected at the end of the day, I realized I had almost missed these new truths entirely. My “pattern of validation” had been so strong, that I almost missed my “recurrent discovery”. As a leader, we need to ensure we are not skipping past these powerful ‘aha’ moments to dwell in the safer “yup, that is me” sea of validation. Though that sea may be warm and calm, it will not help us grow to our full potential.

We must embrace that less comfortable place of continued self-discovery and pull new insights into our core.  Although we may know ourselves well, but there is always more to learn if we are to continue to grow.  This is the beauty of these types of assessment tools, they encourage you to look beyond yourself and flex into a world of possibilities.

Marnie Smith
Managing Partner
Lighthouse NINE Group
One Eva Road, Suite 209 | Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z5
Office: 416-607-6919
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