For many of us, personality tests call to mind the alphabet soup of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®.

When we tell our colleagues we’re an ISTJ – or one of 15 other personality types revealed through the test – they nod knowingly. Like us, they recognize what each letter suggests about personality and behavior.

We like taking personality tests because they give us insight into who we are. We have a better understanding of our needs and preferences and why we behave the way we do. They show us how we’re different from others in our perceptions and decision-making.

This knowledge is important for leaders because it helps them identify their strengths and where they need to make adjustments. Consider the Judging dimension in the Myers-Briggs assessment, for example. People who score high in this category tend to be methodical, structured, and organized.

While these qualities can certainly benefit us in our daily lives – personal as well as professional – they can also hold us back. We can be perceived as rigid or too task-oriented. We may lack spontaneity and fail to see the importance of interpersonal relationships.

Traditional assessments like Myers-Briggs will continue to be useful tools for understanding different personality types. But now, thanks to social media and improved analytics, we also have newer options available.

Sites like CrystalKnows.com use an algorithm to collect and analyze the information someone has shared on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can see their predicted personality profile and tips for interacting with them via email or face-to-face. The site also gives advice on how to work effectively with that person and win their trust…even how to ask them for a favor and resolve conflicts.

Like other personality assessments, one of the chief goals of CrystalKnows.com is to help people interact with each other more effectively. For leaders, the information can help them manage relationships with their boss, direct reports, and other colleagues. It has the potential to improve productivity and employee satisfaction in an organization.

But these new online tools are not without controversy:

  • If you take a personality test like Myers-Briggs, your results are typically confidential. It’s up to you how much you want to share with others. But if you’re posting information on social media, virtually anyone can get a quick assessment of your personality without your knowledge.
  • While research has shown that we can accurately predict personality based on information shared via social media, some sites may use a better algorithm than others. In other words, we may or may not get valid results.

What’s the lesson for us?

As we’ve heard many times before, we need to be careful about what we share on social media. Big Brother is indeed watching. Whether the information used to assess your personality through these online tools is valid or not, it can be used to make important decisions about you and your career.

This is just something to keep in mind, should you choose to comment below.

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