So how good are you, really?

I love to take tests. Not the academic kind, mind you – too much anxiety or memories of “all-nighters” associated with those. I mean the fun ones. The quick ones that test to see if you are up on current events; the latest products; what “stars” or famous people have been misbehaving; even the monthly IIBA® Knowledge check! But my favourites are ones that assess me – my personality, skills and competencies. We all have opinions on how well we do our jobs; how we interact with others; whether we demonstrate those lofty competencies like leadership, emotional intelligence, collaboration, integrity. I jump on the opportunity to take any assessment that validates those opinions.


So yesterday, while skimming through my online Harvard Business Review, I ran across this survey: The Eight-Minute Test That Can Reveal Your Effectiveness as a Leader. Perfect. Only eight minutes long and it was going to tell me what a great leader I am compared to the rest of the world.

I answered the first question by saying I was exceptional. Not just good. I was great. Then I looked at the next question. I could be exceptional at that one too.
Hmmmm. I was beginning to feel I wasn’t going to get much out of this survey after all. Could I really be that amazing? Maybe, but probably not. So I decided to take the survey differently. Instead of quickly responding to each of the questions, I thought about the underlying meaning of the question, and focused on identifying gaps. What could I do better to improve my performance in that area. Based on the answer, I ranked myself. Definitely lower than I would have originally!

When I received my “grade”, I was a bit disappointed to find I did not perform as well as others who had taken the test. It didn’t take me long to delete that email.
But I did learn something in the process. I used the questions to help me critically assess my strengths and weaknesses across different areas of leadership. My analysis wasn’t exhaustive but it was eye-opening. And it gave me an opportunity to think about areas of development that I could work on to become that exceptional leader that I want to be. It also provided me with insight on how to approach these personality quizzes again. Don’t assess yourself against others. It is your personality after all. Assess yourself against the standards and goals you have set for yourself. The effort will more than just a fun distraction. It will remind you of what you have to do to become the person you want to be.

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