“Identity” is who we are or who we perceive ourselves to be, hopefully, they align but not always (and that’s a whole ‘nother topic).

Of course, our leadership identity starts with understanding who we are as people, our true identity. To further understand our leadership identity (how we behave relative to others) an assessment tool may prove beneficial. But be sure to read the directions on the label. All assessments are not created equal.

They vary in terms of their purpose (some describe our personality, some identify our preferences), their accuracy, and their intended use (for our individual use or as part of a team). Taken out of context they can be misleading. It’s important that we read the results of any assessment carefully and that we understand that an assessment contains clues not conclusions.

Case in point: One assessment describes four different temperaments – Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Choleric, and Sanguine. According to one profiler, Sanguines are “very effective working with people.” Out of 40 points possible on the Sanguine scale, I scored a 0 (yes, that’s zero with a “z”). Based on this assessment I would be a walking disaster as a pastor.

I’m sure the profiler would say this does not mean I’m not effective with people, it just means I am more effective at other aspects of leadership.

The StrengthsFinder assessment by Gallup identifies one of my strengths as “Relator” which includes the following description – “They may know many people, and they can relate to all kinds of people. But they also have a very small group of friends with whom they have incredibly deep relationships.” This assessment does a better job of describing my interactions with people.

I have found assessments to be a good tool for helping me understand why I lead the way I do, which is a good first step to improving the way I lead. Used in their proper context, assessments are good instruments to have in our leadership toolkit.