It’s no surprise that people who have spent time studying the traits of others are often more likely to have positive relationships. Luckily I was advised to learn more about this topic very early in my career after a particularly disappointing experience. I graduated from college and was finishing my first full year as a sales rep for a national home builder. At the conference, I won the Rookie of the Year Trophy for the highest volume sales by a first-year associate. On our way home, a colleague told me that our Director of Sales was leaving to work for a competitor. My first thought was that the new opening meant a potential opportunity for a promotion in my career path. Given the award I’d just won, I assumed I would be a candidate for consideration.
Much to my dismay, not only was I not even considered; my colleague got the job. Frustrated, I decided to visit the division leader and inquired about his reasons. As he explained, he handed me a book called “Please Understand Me” and told me that I should study it. He went on to say that I was one of the best new home sales reps he’d ever seen, but that if he promoted me to management, everyone would likely quit because my standards were too high. He added that he believed me to be an impressive individual contributor but predicted that I would never be a leader. And further, that if I learned about personalities, I would understand that.
As I walked out of his office, I recalled taking a personality assessment called MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and a graphology test (analyzing my handwriting) before hiring me. I began to wonder what these hiring tests told him about me. As I left his office, I went straight to HR and asked for my reports. Reading them, I could see how the results confirmed what he said, but the outcome didn’t sit well. I silently vowed to myself that I would prove him wrong one day. This moment would turn out to be the catalyst that triggered years of study regarding personality and leadership. Luckily, it proved to be profoundly useful too.
Five years later, in another industry, I was finally promoted to General Manager of a 35 million dollar luxury hotel. Two short years later, I was awarded the Chairman’s Award for Leadership in a company of 80,000 people. Today, I believe the consistent trait of tenacity in my character is what made the difference. I genuinely believe people can accomplish great things when we dare to be bold.
What’s the lesson in this story? It’s enormously helpful to understand what drives our personality. But it might be even more important to grow beyond the self-limiting ideas imposed by tools like these too. Fast forward several decades, and we’ve learned that brain plasticity is not only possible but probable in a global world that forces rapid growth on the modern leader. Personality is not only malleable; desirable behavior change can happen in a little as a few weeks. As the mind evolves to greater complexity, we are quite capable of moving beyond many inherited traits.
A new kind of personality assessment
So setting out to resolve the issues we had with existing self-awareness tools, we’ve spent the better part of a decade building a better personality assessment and positive influence feedback tools for individuals and teams in a work environment. The criteria we used to create them are perfect for integrative thinkers, and wicked smart individual team members and organizations. We decided on 12 critical goals in developing Tilt365 to ensure product superiority in a world full of options:
A personality journey that grows with you
I am happy to say that great things can come of not-so-great experiences. Case in point, not getting a promotion many years ago was the fuel that has driven years of research and a strong drive to build a better personality assessment and suite of tools to help people in business measure personality and grow as leaders.
Some of our best ideas may arise from our most painful experiences. It is also precisely the time we need to listen, learn, and be bold.