Jennifer B. Davis
A good friend blogged recently about taking a personality test. This got me thinking about all the great self-reflection tools that are available, for free, on the Web.

Although Myers-Briggs (the quintessential personality test) is a for-fee test, there are many look-alikes online. You can find one at Humanmetrics (only 72 questions on one long page) and some additional information on the Personality Page (which also includes personality profiles).

Other types of tests that I like include the Enneagram and Emotional IQ. I remember taking the enneagram in graduate school and joining others with the same profile. It was amazing to see the similarities in the groups that the test had discovered.

In professional environments, I have used a lot of tools including DiSC Profile and Interpersonal Style (which frankly I like better because the vocabulary is easier to explain and remember; this site compares some of the common personality test themes).

In other news, here is a site that analyzes your personality based solely on which of a series of images you choose. For me, the results were scarily (eerily) correct. The 1 minute personality test!
Jennifer B. Davis
As I have mentioned before, I love business books. I know this might qualify me for some type of certifiable mental condition, but I love a good business theory, the ever practical 2x2 matrix, and case studies of how others have failed or succeeded. But there is a downside to all of this reading: business hypochondria. It is a condition whereby any book you read seems to apply to your situation. I suppose this condition exists because popular business authors are a bit like horoscope writers: they try to make them apply to just about everyone. That said, I ran across something recently that caught my attention and made me look around for signs of this condition at my own workplace. Maybe it will have the same affect on you.

Josh Kaufman (the force behind the Personal MBA) had a quote on his blog and mentioned a theory called the Dunning-Kruger effect. According to Wikipedia, it is a documented phenomenon whereby people who have little knowledge systematically think that they know more than others who have more knowledge. Dunning and Kruger won a Nobel prize for their work, so this is serious business. As the theory is applied, they found that "incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill" and "fail to recognize genuine skill in others." I think we have all seen examples of managers who can not make good hiring decisions because they themselves are under the delusional effects of Dunning-Kruger (which I will call DK for short). DK managers think themselves to be overly capable and discount the contribution of others. A common malady for sure. But, what is the cure?

According to our experts, if those DK managers will improve their own skill level through training, they can learn to recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill. So, this is the delimna. The only cure for DK is self-awareness and the willingness to be trained. However, the symptoms of DK is lack of accurate self-perception and a belief that one already has gained competence (thus, not needed training).

How can you immunize yourself from DK? Apparently, peole with true knowledge tended to underestimate their competence. So, perhaps you can fein humility, stay open to training and coaching, and can avoid being "grossly incompetent" as the studies have illustrated. Consider yourself warned.

The only cure for business hypochondria? Get rid of your business book collection and cancel your subscription to Harvard Business Review.

Jennifer B. Davis
I read a book by Patrick Lencioni recently called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you liked, the 5 Temptations, you'll love this one! In reading this book, I was again reminded of the importance of leaders being comfortable not knowing all the answers. It takes a special kind of security and confidence to trust your team and lead them. If you haven't read these books, I would HIGHLY recommend them. I passed along the Dysfunctions book to my husband, who passed it to his Dad, and now we have a whole new group of fans who are applying it outside of the corporate world to volunteer leadership in a non-profit setting.

I think it is funny that Mr. Lencioni's consulting practice sells all sorts of "dysfunctions products," but I am trying not to hold that against him.