The average worker will change jobs seven to nine times over the course of his or her career. The decision to depart a current place of employment may be based on advancement opportunities or dissatisfaction with the current work environment. Whatever the specific reason given, the pursuit of new leadership opportunities is often driven by the seeker’s interest in matching his or her educational and work history against published criteria about a new job. However, matching only past experience and educational accomplishments will not produce a positive outcome when seeking to match skills with available openings. 15
Personality dynamics influence success in the workplace in many ways. Performance, personal satisfaction, and outcomes are all enhanced when the employee and the work environment are in alignment—that is, when there is synchronization with personality. Synchronization is a process that includes many dimensions of an individual’s abilities, such as education and experience, ability to learn, mental “hard-wiring,” personality archetypes, leadership dynamics, and physical abilities. 16 Understanding the personalities of subordinates, peers, and superiors in the health organization is important for health leaders. This understanding informs the health leader as to others’ expectations and provides insights into motivation, competitiveness, team building, coalition building, and interpersonal relationships and communication.
Table 2-1 VARK Learning Outcomes At Baylor University’s MHA/MBA Program (n = 164)
|VARK Test 2004||VARK Test 2005||VARK Test 2006||VARK Test 2007|
|Kinesthetic (doing)||8||Kinesthetic (doing)||22||Kinesthetic (doing)||12||Kinesthetic (doing)||10|
Leadership and Personality Self-Assessment
The following section identifies some of the more popular personality and leadership self-assessments available on the Internet. These sites provide free leadership and personality self-assessments that are highly commensurate with many of the private and for-profit assessments that can be purchased. In fact, for many large for-profit organizations, personality screening is a necessary precursor to being offered a position in the company. Many large-scale organizations have found that a basic interview and reference checking are just small parts of a larger interview process. Personality assessment via computerized testing is becoming more common, as organizations have realized that nearly all references provided by candidates result in positive narratives. Additionally, a favorable half-day interview may not provide the organization with a complete picture of the individual’s predisposition for participatory, autocratic, and authoritarian leadership styles or level of mastery of critical leadership skills such as communication.
Many organizations are weary of the litigation potential when an individual is hired, only to then be terminated for failing to get along with coworkers or adapt to existing workplace dynamics. As a result, personality self-assessment has become a piece of the overall picture of the job candidate developed by organizations prior to making a final offer of employment. As such, it is incumbent on early careerists to not only become aware of their own personality archetype, but also to gain some experience with personality assessment prior to any real-world screening process so that nervousness and second guessing does not present itself during the actual corporate screening process.
Upon completing each of these personality diagnostics, the test taker is supplied with a free assessment of his or her scores by the hosting website. Although there are often no right or wrong answers, and all tests are subject to issues of reliability and validity, many of these assessments, if taken consistently over the period of several weeks or months, will provide similar responses over time.
Drs. Ledlow and Coppola suggest that in the university course setting, four to six self-assessments should be completed, based on the learning outcomes of the course. Upon completing these assessments, you should write a two- to three-page integrated self-assessment based on the diagnostic outcomes. This essay should list professional strengths for the career field that the test taker is about to enter, as well as areas of potential professional development where weaknesses are identified. One last note: Everyone—leader and follower alike—has weaknesses and areas of career and professional performance that can be improved.
The following section is exciting and fun, but can also be scary and anxiety provoking. The goal is to “know thyself” as a health leader, and to learn to identify and leverage your strengths while shoring up your weaknesses to create more potential for great leadership—your great leadership—in the health industry. The assessments can be found at the reference attached to each section’s heading.