Over the course of my MBA, I have taken a series of assessments to determine strengths, weaknesses, and skills. These are mostly provided by my program in an effort for every student to be come more attuned to their abilities and strategize ways to address their weaknesses, whether that means taking on new skills or developing ways to cope with shortcomings.
My peers recognize that I am a strong written and spoken communicator, in addition to being a dependable listener who is concerned for others.
I resolve conflict that arises in our team or project work by modeling effective and supportive problem solving by prioritizing collaboration. I work with the team or individually to find effective solutions.
I have fairly high emotional intelligence, with specific strengths in understanding others emotions, problem solving, managing conflict, and staying true to my values.
I have a reliable ability to read people’s facial expressions and emotions, key for remote environments.
I am an experiential learner, relying on my senses to interpret information and act quickly.
I am motivated by external factors like results and rewards.
Building on opportunities…
I am augmenting my abilities and deepening mny learning with greater analytical skills gained through continuing education.
I am committed to supporting my team’s development throgh collaboration, engaged feedback, in addition to engaging in more strategic development.
I am personally less motivated by internal factors like mastery, purpose or meaning, however I seek to lead a team that maintains their own sense of intrinsic motivation.
Rounds of anonymous feedback conducted in September 2021 using the SpiderGap360 platform. Participants included managers and peers.
Top 5 strengths
- Communicating clearly
- Self Development
- Concern for others
Top 5 areas to improve
- Developing strategy
- Giving feedback
- Support others Development
These results were troublesome for me, because I have a track record of being strong in areas where the feedback identified that I needed to improve.
This is somehow reflective of the times when this was given. The company was going through some turmoil. We had turnover at every level. My own assessment of the areas I feel I need to improve varied a bit from the feedback. For instance, I gave myself low marks on “support others development” because, as the company was in some turmoil and we had experienced significant turnover, I felt responsible for not providing the career path that would retain team members. I thought I was being a stronger collaborator, but that clearly wasn’t the case and in hindsight, it’s a theme in other areas where I volunteer to do work and get it done, but perhaps not in a collaborative fashion in the moment. Since then, I have become more pro-active in seeking and structuring collaboration activities.
Conflict Intelligence is a mechanism for gauging how people navigate different types of conflict across different power dynamics. It is conducted by The Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution ant the Teachers College, Columbia University. It’s available for free.
Taking the test, you are given a short case where a conflict is taking place, and provided with 5 options for how you would respond. My tendencies are, as follows. These appear in order of my tendency towards this response to conflict. I also included how I differentiated from common trends identified by the Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution’s research.
- Benevolence: An Active-Cooperative Orientation–This is an approach in which people take responsibility for problems and engage in constructive leadership behaviors (such as being a good role model and engaging in group problem solving). This is usually associated with feelings of genuine concern for the other party in the conflict. (This is my top score, meaning it is my most likely response to conflict. I am roughly just as likely as most people to respond this way)
- Autonomy: An Orientation of Independence–This is an approach in which people are mainly focused on achieving their own goals, so they seek to disengage from the conflict and find ways to unilaterally achieve their goals outside the conflictual relationship. This strategy may be related to stronger feelings of indifference to the conflict. (This is my second highest score, meaning it is another common way that I respond to conflict. I am far more likely than most people surveyed to respond this way.)
- Support: An Orientation of Willing Support and Dependence–This is an approach in which people value the support of the other disputant and engage in respectful followership behaviors, including seeking clarification from the other and attending carefully to those in positions of higher power. It is worth noting that situations of cooperative dependence can also induce a sense of anxiety and confusion in response to conflict. (This is my third highest score, meaning it is another way I tend to respond. This is roughly in line with most people surveyed)
I found the results of this somewhat conflicting. In another assessment that I have performed in the past during a class at Georgetown, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, I also tested very, very high–highest in the class if I recall–in demonstrating ‘collaborating’ behaviors in response to conflict. This means my response is “both assertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of avoiding. Collaborating involves an attempt to work with others to find some solution that fully satisfies their concerns. It means digging into an issue to pinpoint the underlying needs and wants of the two individuals. Collaborating between two persons might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s insights or trying to find a creative solution to an interpersonal problem.” I want us to see eye to eye, and find a way to resolve conflict by making 1+1=3.
It was interesting to me that I showed an Autonomy tendency in the more recent Conflict Intelligence assessment, especially as it was so far out of band from other test respondents. In reflecting on these results, I feel they almost form a narrative for the nature of collaboration in the face of conflict: I can help you, I also have my own needs, I support your needs, too.
Emotional Intelligence is defined as:
…an ability to recognize the meanings of emotions and their relationships, and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of them. Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.Mayer et al, 1999
This test is commercially available through Psychology Today. It is considered critical for leaders, as it is necessary to manage conflict and establish working environments where it is safe to share perspectives and foster growth.
This was an interesting one for me. Overall this is a pretty good score, including high ranking in:
- Emotional Understanding (89/100)
- Awareness of Strengths and Limitations (92/100)
- Problem-Solving (100/100)
- Emotional Integration (94/100)
- Conflict Management Knowledge (95/100)
- Conflict Resolution Behavior (95/100)
- Values Integrity (92/100)
These and others indicate that my overall Emotional IQ is good, and that I can recognize others’ emotions effectively and perform well in other areas where emotions must be detected and managed.
Naturally, there are areas for improvement, cited in the “Limitations” portion of the report:
- You seem to struggle to act independently
- You are somewhat flexible
- Your impulse control is satisfactory
- You do not ruminate excessively, which is good, but you also may not give things sufficient thought
- You show some self-control (this one might be my favorite)
This is an interesting one to me: as it is a connundrum of leadership: the tension between moving with consensus and moving independently.
Another interesting component for me: my results on this test changed significantly since the last time I took it, including having lost my job two weeks ago. I took this test in September of 2021. I remember experiencing significant burnout at the time, even depressive symptoms, and wondering at the time if this would have a negative effect on my outcome. I feel like I have my answer: now, in the process of recovering from burnout, I’m befoming better attuned to my emotions, which I feel will provide a better foundation for my next step, whatever that will be.
The Kolb Experiential Learning Profile
The Kolb Experiential Learning Profile, or as it is swimmingly known, the KELP, helps reflect back to you a comprehensive way to understand how you learn. It creates a “kite” (which I would call a 4-point spider diagram) that illustrates the degree to which you engage a certain portion of the learning cycle. It’s tempting to say that it “tells you how you learn” but what it really tells you is your go-to strategy for learning, while still recognizing engagement in the overall cycle of learning.
This video explains the cycle: you experience the environment, you reflect on what you observe, you think through conclusions, and you act on the decision. In reality, real life is a little messier, and we each have preferences and tendencies based on many factors in our lives that affect hour preference for leaning.
It’s clear in my results that I am experiential learner: I learn from being there, taking it in, feeling and observing with my senses. This also means that I would benefit from improving the opposite tendency, the thinking side of the cycle.
These results make sense to me. In a narrative sense, I would experience a situation, reflect on it a bit, and take action on my reflections. To balance this learning cycle, I would need to engage the “thinking” phase of the cycle more. The test identifies this approach as a “flex” strategy and highlights activities and opportunities that would help improve my learning cycle. In particular…
- Building deep personal relationships
- Strong intuition focused by reflection and action
- Open to new experiences
- Understanding theory
- Systematic planning
- Critical evaluation
I’m optimistic here, because I have been doing just that, thanks to the methodologies I have learned recently that give me a greater analytical approach to problem solving and learning. I have since found that I am enjoying the challenge.
This one isn’t publicly available, but was made possible through a professor in one of my grad school classes.
Through a series of questions, this tool identified the extend to which you are motivated by intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors. This was only scored in relation to other people taking the survey in the same class, rather than on a defined scale.
Intrinsic motivation: 5 (mean: 5.66, SD: 0.93). This means that my intrinsic motivation was slightly less than other people in the class.
Intrinsic motivation factors include:
Extrinsic motivation: 5.42 (mean: 4.82, SD: 0.86). This means that my extrinsic motivation was significantly higher (.69 SD) than the others in the class.
Extrinsic motivation factors include:
- External benefits
- Avoiding punishment
This is an interesting one to thing about as a designers. I think a lot of designers land in intrinsic motivation, from a professional sense, in that they are driven by craft.
This was an interesting one. The Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy measures your ability to read facial expressions. Over the course of the test, you look at pictures of people’s faces and select from a list of emotions which best matches the emotion depicted in the photo.
I came out average with an 18. Looking for more information on the scale of results, I couldn’t find any additional details, and it looks like the psychology researchers that run the test at Emory University may have moved on.