What’s your Business Personality?

Most self-assessments take the form of “personality tests,” and there are dozens of tests you can take that will give you plenty of acronyms and abbreviations that you can rely on to understand yourself better. But most of these have little applicability to business.

The classic Myers-Briggs test, for example, can be very meaningful for some, but very unhelpful for many, like me, who tend to have responses that cluster in the “Goldilocks Zone” of middle-of-the-pack behaviors and thought patterns. And its applicability to business settings is mediocre at best. The more science-backed “Big 5” (or OCEAN or CANOE) model is perhaps more reflective of actual behavioral and thought patterns, but again offers little for business, or for the “middle of the roaders” like me.

Models like DISC, CliftonStrengths, Identity Mapping, and others have more business applicability. Even if they do offer limited business applications, however, personality assessments typically ignore many situationally-specific influences on behavior that tend to override any general personality traits.

I worked with a client that was all-in on Kolbe as an assessment of conative (as opposed to cognative) strengths. I took that assessment, and again was unsatisfied with my middle-of-the-pack numbers. I have an odd concentration of skills, it seems. I’m very structured in how I like to build my world-view, for example, but I’m very open to new experiences and differences in thought. I’m not goal-driven, but I’m a perfectionist (and this keeps me from attaining many of my goals). I’m conscientious with people, but impatient with objects. I prefer to work alone, but I’m comfortable in crowds and give great presentations. Give me a hard deadline in which I could be embarrassed if I look bad and I’ll kick ass and complete it, but give me a soft deadline that has no personal meaning to me and I’ll miss it more times than not. I have a very wide circle of friends, and I’m not afraid of being the center of attention, but I find it difficult to start conversations and feel exhausted after a lot of social interaction.

I needed a behavior/productivity/personality assessment that knows what to do with me! Unsatisfied with anything I’d been able to find, I made my own. Perhaps this battery of questions will help you find your productivity sweet spot. You’re not going to get a fancy acronym, or an in-depth analysis (not yet, anyway), but I think you will get some insight into what makes you tick.

Just ask yourself these important questions — noting that there are no right or wrong answers:

  1. Am I digital or analog? Let’s give a few examples (again, no judgment here). Do you use an electronic calendar or a physical one? Do you take notes on your computer, or on paper? Do you have an e-reader, or do you still buy physical books? For lack of a better term, I call this digitalness. If you chose the first answer to all or most of these questions, you’re digital (D). If you chose the latter answer to all or most, you’re analog (A) — “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
  2. Am I focused or more easily distracted?  Can you do your work from anywhere, or do you do your best work in a specific setting? Ignoring COVID-19 fears, do you find it reasonably easy or very hard to hold conversations in crowded rooms? This is a measurement of attentiveness — of your ability to filter out noise and focus on the task at hand. If you’re leaning toward the first of both options in each question, you are more focused (F), otherwise you may be more easily distractible (E).
  3. Am I a visual learner or an auditory learner? Once something grabs your attention, what is the best way to hold your attention? Do you find it easier to “latch on” to a subject after seeing it described visually, or after hearing or reading a description? This is a measure of learning style — of how you optimally process the information that makes it past your filter. If you’re leaning toward the first of both options in the question, you are probably a visual learner (V). If you’re learning toward the latter of the two options, you are probably an auditory or oral learner (O). If neither option seems right, there is a chance you may be a kinesthetic learner (K) — someone who needs to get their hands dirty before truly understanding a subject.
  4. Am I an intuitive, rules-driven or knowledge-based problem solver? When given a challenging task, do you tend to jump right in, try to learn all the rules, or prefer to wait until I understand the hows and whys? I call this your default cognition depth. It measures how deeply you feel you need to understand something before you act. If you usually prefer to dive right in (like most kinesthetic learners), you are an intuitive problem solver (I), and prefer to apply existing or quickly-developed (sometimes called conative) skills. If you prefer to read the manual or make a list, you are probably a rules-driven problem solver (R). If you want to study “background” information to understand the “hows and whys” of the problem you’re trying to solve, you are most likely a knowledge-based (or model-based) (M) problem solver.
  5. Do I commit something to memory best through interaction, memorization or explanation? Once you have absorbed a new learning, how do you best commit that learning to memory? Do you try to interact with others (or the subject itself), conduct some form of internalization or memorization process, or try to explain the learning to someone else? I call this your memory mode, and I suspect a strong correlation between this mechanism and your default cognition depth. If you chose the first option, you are an interaction-driven tactile/talkative (T) style. If you chose the middle option, you are a list- or task-driven memorizer (L). If you chose the last option, you are an explainer (X).
  6. Do I prefer specific, tangible “extrinsic” rewards, or am I easily satisfied with “intrinsic” rewards? When you solve that challenging problem we just talked about, do you try to break it down into small manageable, discrete pieces; or do you prefer to work toward the larger goal? Do you need to immediately reward yourself (with a break, a snack, a movie, etc.), or will you be satisfied with merely the knowledge of a “job well done”? I call this test motivation rewards. If you chose the former option in each question, you are motivated primarily by extrinsic rewards (W). If you chose the latter, then you are motivated primarily by intrinsic rewards (N).
  7. Am I a spontaneous creative, or a deliberate creative? Do you do your best brainstorming with a blank whiteboard, or through some kind of structured process? This is one measurement of creativity type. If you’re a “start from scratch” brainstormer, you would be called spontaneous (S). If you need some structure for your brainstorming, you would be called deliberate or planned (P).
  8. Am I an analytical thinker or a synthetic thinker? Do you care more about identifying differences between people and objects, or about identifying similarities? Which do you enjoy more: taking the pieces apart to see how they all work, or seeing how many different ways you can assemble the pieces? Do you prefer to dive deep into a subject (a topic, a person, a book, an idea, an argument, etc.), or look for patterns across multiple subjects? If you’re a scientist, which is more important: internal validity or external validity? This is a measurement of thinking style. If you agreed with the former of most of these questions, you are most likely an analytical or divergent thinker (G). If you agreed more with the latter options, your are most likely a synthetic or convergent thinker (Y).

Your answer to these determine your business style — your “business personality.”

I am a DEVM-XWPY type. I am digital, easily-distracted, visual, model-based, explainer, extrinsically-motivated, deliberately creative and synthetic. This small exercise helped me understand:

  1. How tech savvy I am (D=digital)
  2. How easily my attention is drawn (E=easily-distracted)
  3. What my learning style is (V=visual)
  4. How I like to deal with challenges (M=model-based, i.e., deeply)
  5. How I retain information best (X=by explaining it to someone else)
  6. How I reward myself for solving challenges, and how often (W=extrinsically, tangibly, frequently)
  7. How my creative process works (P=planned/deliberate)
  8. More broadly, how I think (Y=synthetic/convergent)

By understanding these more business-specific aspects of my broader personality type, I find myself better able to structure my environment and improve my personal productivity, an important aspect of running a business, and one of the focus areas of the Business Breakthrough Network.

Take the test and let us know where you fit, and whether it is helpful to you!

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