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Isn’t It a Diagnosis?

medical-chart-iconHave you ever taken an assessment tool, such as an emotional intelligence “test”  and were completely shocked, depressed, or mildly annoyed at the results? Or have you taken an assessment tool and had the opposite reaction? “Hey,  I’m pretty well- adjusted, intelligent or savvy!”  Or maybe you’ve taken a survey and the results don’t seem to quite fit.

When using such tools, a question that comes up frequently t is, “Isn’t this a diagnosis?”  In fact, sometimes this assumption forms the rationale to dismiss the value of assessment tools altogether which is a very big mistake.

Recently I was part a workshop team, certifying individuals in the use of a new assessment tool called the Intentional Leadership Audit that identifies leadership priorities, strengths and blind spots.   Along with the new assessment, there were connections made between leadership priorities, an individual’s psychological type (as identified by the MBTI ™ or other Jungian tool), and the EQi 2.0, emotional intelligence instrument.

In one of the case studies, it was revealed that the subject had a low score on the impulse control subscale of the EQi 2.0.   As a group, we then discussed the possible implications of low impulse control for a leader.  During the discussion,  one of the participants asked, “Isn’t this a diagnosis?  Isn’t this just what you are?”

It is common for people to assume  assessment tools have diagnostic implications, much the way medical tests point toward a condition that has to be treated.  Such is not he case.  Assessment tools, particularly self-reporting assessment tools, mainly serve the purpose of outlining what appears to be an individual’s mindset.  This can be affected by both inherent or default temperament as well as a myriad of other factors coming from personal experiences.  Hence, while much of our approach to living is fairly consistent, much of it is also malleable because our brain is adaptable and responds to the demands placed upon it.  We can all change and broadly,  this is how we do it:

1. Some sort of dampening down of the usual mind map has to take place, one of the most effective ways being through immersion .  So for example, if you were going to learn a new language, ideally you would have to eliminate as much use of the  native language as possible so the new language could build resilient neuro-connections in the brain.   The brain doesn’t like competing stimuli. That is why language immersion programs seem to work. Similarly, if you were relying on your sense of touch to get around in a dark room, you would immediately switch to your preferred mode of sight to get around if the light switch was turned on.  In other words,  the preferences that were present  first take precedence but if they are greatly attenuated, then new pathways can develop.  .

2. A deliberate or mindful monitoring of behavior can create a self-awareness and over time, a resilient change in the brain can take place. Choosing to consistently respond or act in a new way  can bring about these changes. Either through self-driven intent or the coaching  guidance, the brain can adapt to the demands placed upon it.

Assessment tools are a starting point to identify what appears to be the lay of the land.  After clarifying the results with a client, they can be immensely helpful in finding a starting point to structure goals and objectives.   Anything is possible as the brain is most definitely capable of significant change.  It is vitally important to know the fluid nature of assessment tools and the valuable information they can provide.


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