Five Benefits of Assessment Tools … and Two Cautions
by Stephen BlandinoMonday, October 3, 2022 11:00 AM
We live during a time in history when we can glean great insights from helpful assessment tools. There are dozens of tools on the market today — Spiritual Gifts, StrengthsFinder, DiSC, Emotional Intelligence, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Leading From Your Strengths, Motivating By Appreciation (MBA) Inventory, various leadership assessments, and more.
Each tool is unique, and the validity of some are debated more than others. This article doesn’t endorse one tool over another, but rather shares five benefits of assessment tools … and two cautions.
There are countless books and articles on the subject of “life purpose.” One of the common threads woven through much of the writing is the need to clarify how God has wired us. A key to discovering our purpose is to understand one’s unique gifts, abilities, skills, and personality. Assessments have a way of increasing our clarity of these important traits.
Years ago, I created a personal life mission statement. I wrote, “My life mission is to lead, coach, and equip leaders and churches to engage in the process of personal growth, develop their full leadership capacity, and produce effective, Kingdom-advancing ministry.”
This statement was born out of prayer, deep reflection, and with the help of a coach. But in the process, I also leaned into discoveries made through various assessments I had taken along the way.
Each assessment helped me better understand how God wired me and how those realities contributed to my life mission. The results of the assessments didn’t replace my mission. Instead, they clarified my God-given strengths so I could better understand and pursue my mission.
There are times in our lives when we sense something but we’re unable to articulate our thoughts and feelings into words. This can be especially true when we’re trying to pinpoint our strengths, weaknesses, values, and the things that motivate us. In these scenarios, assessment tools can be helpful.
There have been times when I’ve taken an assessment and then found myself saying, “That assessment put into words what I’ve always felt.” It gave language to what I’ve always known to be true about myself but was unable to articulate.
Having language for your wiring is extremely helpful. It not only creates understanding for yourself, but it also equips you to better explain your thoughts and perspectives to others.
When you gain clarity around your personality and gift mix and have the language to articulate how you are wired, your “next steps” often come into focus. You gain direction for what you should and shouldn’t do.
I’ll often explain this process like shrinking a circle. Imagine every opportunity you could pursue in your life exists in a giant circle. There may be dozens, or even hundreds of directions you could go.
But when you increase your understanding of how God has wired you, the size of your circle begins to shrink. Why? Because you begin throwing out things that simply don’t align with who God made you to be.
It's a good thing when your circle shrinks. It means you’re gaining focus. It means you’re getting closer to understanding the opportunities and direction more in line with your God-given strengths.
A key to discovering
our purpose is to understand one’s unique gifts, abilities, skills, and personality.
Everybody has experienced conflict in relationships. Whether it’s at home, in school, at work, or with a neighbor, we’ve all encountered friction when we don’t relate well with one another. This is where assessments can be helpful.
Assessment tools are designed to create greater understanding, not just for us but those we live and work with. When we share the results of our assessments with others, we’re giving them a glimpse into how we think, what we value, and how they can relate to us. Having this understanding in both directions will only enhance the quality of the relationship.
Think about it — have you ever found yourself asking, “Why do they do that?” When you understand the results of someone’s personality assessment, you’ll probably find a helpful answer to your question.
Our team recently took the MBA Inventory. It helped us understand each team member’s primary and secondary language of appreciation in the workplace. People feel appreciated in different ways, and this assessment not only helped us understand our teammates better, but it equipped us to speak the language of appreciation that would make our relationships even stronger.
Sometimes leaders think everybody should be treated the same. This is true when it comes to respect, dignity, and love. But it’s not always true when it comes to the nuanced dynamics of leading people.
For example, some people want to be led with nothing more than a big picture vision. If you paint the vision, they can run with it. But others need to understand the why behind the what. Some need to know more details, and others need the assurance that this change is wise, especially if they’re more cautious or resistant to change.
When you understand how people are wired, you grow in your understanding of how to lead them in a way that generates the greatest buy-in while cultivating the healthiest relationship.
While assessments can be extremely helpful in generating the five benefits above, there are also two cautions to keep in mind.
First, assessment tools are not the final authority. Sometimes an assessment is wrong or incomplete. Even if the tools are backed with extraordinary amounts of research, they’re still not Scripture or the voice of God. Learn to benefit from the tool without elevating it to the ultimate authority in your life.
Second, assessment tools are not a license for character deficiencies. For example, if your assessment results reveal that you’re a fast-paced leader with the ability to make quick decisions, this doesn’t mean it’s OK to be brash or impatient. When people use the phrase, “That’s just the way I am” as an excuse for bad behavior, they’re not cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in developing their character.
Regardless of what my assessment results tell me, they are not a replacement for the fruit of the Spirit.
The apostle Paul made it clear: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:22-26).
Hold on to the benefits of assessment tools while remaining cognizant of their limitations. This balanced approach will help you maximize their value without giving it unnecessary authority in your life.