5 Ways Leaders Can Leverage Personality Profiles at Work

We interviewed Todd Wilson of Exponential, and he shared some practical ways to use personality profiles in the workplace. Here's a combination of our conversation and my personal reflections on the topic.

Chad Harrington

Here's how business leaders can utilize personality tests to make great hires and retain hi-po employees.

You can read and listen to my last post here, which addresses the why of using personality profiles. It came from my conversation with Todd Wilson about personality profiles. Wilson leads Exponential, the largest conference of its kind in the world, and he uses personality profiles to hire.

Image credit: Deposit Photos

Image credit: Deposit Photos


Personality assessments, I learned, do not make or break a job candidate as he suggests. Instead, by applying the results of a personality assessment, an employer better understands the candidate to see the kind of fit they will make. Wilson has saved himself (and his team) from making bad hires that way. My last post was more about why to use profiles.

But it's not just for making great hires that a leader can leverage these profiles. You can build and build up your workforce with them. This post is how to leverage these assessments for making great hires and leading individuals to flourishing.


Using profiles is practical

Practically, what does it look like to integrate personality profiles into your ethos as a company? Just as technology doesn't replace intuition in the hiring process, personality profiles do not replace experiencing and interacting with a person.

As Christopher Murray states, "The best tech in the world won’t fix lazy recruiting or talent acquisition capability gaps, no matter what tool you use – it’s all marketing smoke and mirrors, really."

Having the right process in place doesn't hire the right candidates for you. So putting a personality profile in the mix doesn’t replace your intellect or intuition! These tools simply help you avoid the smoke and mirrors that might blur your vision.

Here’s five ways leaders can use personality profiles in the workplace. Listen to why Todd Wilson won’t use the phrase “personality test” here (15 min listen).


1.  Make great hires with personality assessments

Start small: apply just one personality profile into the hiring process. You can use free ones, buy low-cost ones or pay for in-depth ones. This will give you insight into how a candidate may fit an open position and how the candidate might fit your team culture. While the test will not give you a fail-safe way to make great hires, it will greatly enhance your knowledge of potentially great hires. So personality profiles will not make or break candidates—don’t put that much weight on them—but definitely use one or more assessment as part of the interview process.

Why? Amanda Neville says of personality profiles: "It takes some of the guesswork out of the hiring process. If you’ve identified certain traits that just don’t mesh, you’ll save yourself and the prospective employee a whole lot of heartache by avoiding a mismatch."

Listen to what Todd Wilson says about personality profiles and hiring here (45 second listen).


2. Build team ‘self-knowledge’ through personality assessments

When you’ve got the “right people on the bus,” as Jim Collins says in Good to Great, have everyone on your team take your chosen personality assessment. You cannot fully appreciate an incoming employee’s personality if you are not aware of your existing team's personality make-up. Socrates’s advice to “know yourself” is true for teams, too. Bringing on a new hire is best when you know yourself as a group.

The Myers-Briggs Foundation speaks into how their assessment aids self-knowledge: “When you understand your type preferences, you can approach your own work in a manner that best suits your style, including: how you manage your time, problem solving, best approaches for decision making, and dealing with stress.”

After your team takes the assessment, hire a consultant to process the individuals on your team and then your staff’s collective personality to understand group dynamics, specifically how your staff functions together. If you can't afford a consultant, have a self-directed, extended meeting instead. It takes time to work through personality assessments.

Chose one test (not four) to start. Simplicity—especially with an organization-wide program—is vital to success. Strength Finders is a great choice for this, but not the only one.

Wilson will not hire someone without self-knowledge. He says that self-knowledge is more important today than ever before. Listen why here: 


3. Resolve conflict with profile lingo

Casey Cobb and Steven Pope, the co-founders of Project Ricochet, use personality profiles to resolve conflict. They were asked, “What habits do you cultivate that support/strengthen your relationship?” They answered using DiSC personality profile language:

“We stay focused on our goals and check in regularly. Every week we review progress and business health, as well as our own mental health. If either of us has low energy or is frustrated, we try to find some sort of a resolution—even if it means turning away work, encouraging each other to take a day or so off, or helping out to relieve stress. We also communicate to each other about any concerns with our partnership, business or employees in the language of DiSC, which allows us to cut through feelings and straight to facts.”

4. Realize people's potential using personality profiles

Bono of U2 says in an interview with Focus on the Family, “The job of love is to realize potential.” (Listen to the full interview of Bono here.) As employer, the best way you can build your company is to love well your employees (as cheesy as that sounds). It’s true, because when you love well (read realize potential in others) they will be more prone to live up to their potential. 

As individual employees reach their potential, so will the company. Using personality profiles is a practical way you can encourage hi-po employees. Your goal as a business leader is to realize potential in your staff, regardless of position or level of management. 

To realize their potential means you must know their potential—which means you must know their unique identity. StrengthsFinder calls this skill “individualization,” which is the ability to see each person for their uniqueness. While “individualization” may not be your top strength, it’s a skill anyone can cultivate; it’s a skill leaders must cultivate.

Listen to what Todd Wilson told me about individualization here:


5. Build up, don't box in

Using personality profiles like StrengthsFinder and DiSC gives you a practical way to understand the potentials of individuals on your team. When you know their strengths, you can encourage them in specific ways.

One of my least favorite ways people "use" personality profiles is to use them against people. That's not a good use of knowledge. Instead, use personality profiles to build up your team. A win for them is a win for your company. 

Who knows, your new hires and employees might end up helping realize your potential too. That’s a whole lot of love going on, a whole lot of good hires and employees’ whose potential has been realized. 


My personal reflections on personality profiles in the workplace

Start simple by choosing one of these five assessments and use it on your next hire


Do I leave any ways you can leverage personality profiles at work? Drop a line below.


Follow Relode on Twitter.