To be effective leaders, executives must begin with an understanding of the reasons for doing what they do. They need to study their motivation from the inside to truly understand what is happening on the outside. This approach creates a more three-dimensional appreciation of human behaviour, helping them obtain greater access to, and understanding of, their emotional lives.
The Personality Audit (PA™) consists of 42 questions designed to provide an assessment of seven of the major personality dimensions important in human functioning, and clarify the various motivational needs of executives. The results of the PA™ provide insights into interpersonal relationships, recurring conflict patterns, and the meaning of one’s actions and experiences.
Participants rate their position on each dimension and 360° feedback comes from family members and friends, as well as colleagues. Feedback to the PA™ is not anonymous, which makes it very powerful and frequently a tipping point for change, especially when it comes from close family members.
The 7 PA™ dimensions:
The PA™ grew out of the need for a relatively simple instrument that could clarify the various motivational characteristics of executives. Existing personality assessment instruments are relatively difficult to use: many provide valuable insights into the inner world of an individual, but their application is time consuming and their interpretation gives a lot of information that is not completely relevant to the situation executives are dealing with. The PA™ was designed to look into those aspects of the inner theatre of individuals that are particularly important for the functioning of executives in organisations. Given the short-comings of existing personality tests available for a target population of executives, we strove to construct a diagnostic instrument that was simple but conceptually sound, with a psychodynamic focus, that could be used for a meaningful discussion about individual behaviour in organisations.
The PA™ reports information given by the test-taker as well as the perceptions of at least three “observers,” and as many as 10 observers, representing both the private and public spheres. Because individuals may be perceived differently in public life (at work) than in private life (at home), we stress the value of having both work-related observers and observers who usually see the test-taker in his/her non-work life. To the best of our knowledge, no other instrument, including existing managerial 360° feedback questionnaires and personality tests, allows for incorporation of observers from both public and private spheres.
In creating the PA™, our first step was to identify those personality characteristics that broadly organise the domain of human functioning and that are most helpful in explaining executive behaviour. We then grouped the personality characteristics we had identified into seven dimensions to form the conceptual basis for the PA™. Finally, we drafted a comprehensive description of each of the dimensions identified and wrote a large pool of assessment “items,” using the descriptions as guidelines. Respondents were asked to indicate on a scale of 1–7, the degree to which each item applied to them, with opposing anchor statements at each end of the scale. After testing the items for face validity, we decided to shorten the questionnaire for practical reasons, leaving us with six items per dimension.
The sample used for the validity study comprises 2531 questionnaires (617 Self audits and 1914 Observer audits) of 57 different nationalities. Data from this study suggests that these seven personality dimensions possess sufficient internal reliability and consistency.
The process begins with the selection of the executive/clients who will take the questionnaire(s). In most instances, the program coordinator provides access to the website where participants and their observers complete the questionnaire. When all the questionnaires have been completed, the coordinator prints out a feedback report for each of the participants. The executive/client then works with a facilitator, coach or counsellor to develop an action plan for change.