Monday, 27 April 2009

Using the Thomas PPA with Belbin

Many thousands of organisations use psychometric tests during recruitment. One of the most popular - and the one with which I have the most personal experience - is the Thomas International PPA. In the Leadership Development Unit we have been working with several clients to extend the use of this assessment tool to encompass many aspects of leadership development and team enhancement. For those who are unfamiliar with the Thomas PPA, more info can be accessed via this link.

For those who are already up-to-speed on how the DISC system works, read on! In this article I'll be exploring how the DISC profile impacts on leadership style and management behaviour.

The PPA profile primarily shows the degree to which a leader's personality and behaviour is led by Dominance (assertiveness), Influence (interpersonal skills), Steadiness (the desire to be of service) or Compliance (the desire to follow rules). This profile affects every aspect of a leader's behaviour, thinking and response to situations. As a simple illustration of the impact of the different traits, a High D will tend to react to a problem with rapid, decisive action and the issue of direct instructions, quite possible by email. A High I might react to the same situation by face-to-face contact with key people to agree and implement action. The High S will tend to reflect and consider all possible avenues before consulting on a decision - while the High C will be searching policy and procedure to find the prescribed response. Obviously it isn't quite this black & white, but I'm a High I/High D, so you can judge my comments in that light. When coaching leaders, we encourage them to understand not only their own profile but also those of their immediate network of peers and reports. The great Hercule Poirot once said (or at least Agatha did) that 'the human being never does anything that is essentially out of character'.... and I agree. Knowing someone's profile enables you to predict with considerable accuracy how they will respond to any situation or behaviour and therefore how best to interact with them to achieve your intentions. If I, as an I/D profile with very low C, need to interact with someone who is a High S/C with low D and I - then I will need to adapt my style significantly from that which would 'come naturally'. If I breeze into their office unannounced full of passion and excitement for an idea I've had and wanting them to act immediately.... well, let's just say I'm unlikely to get the positive reponse I seek. A low D/I often finds someone like me intimidating, overbearing or simply annoying. They are quite likely to respond with stonewalling, indifference or plain stubbornness. All things likely to send an I/D through the ceiling with frustration. Before you know it, we have a problem - and I've caused it, by failing to adapt my approach to suit the other party. As a leader, it is pointless berating people or judging them because they don't think or act like you. They are who they are. If you want to get the best out of them, you need to inspire, motivate, enable, develop, support and guide. Every type will find this a challenge but for different reasons! High D's want everything to happen immediately, are driven by results and hate failure. They tend to be impatient, blunt and critical - they can be very inspiring to people who are equally strong and driven but can easily demoralise the introverted or less confident. High I's want everyone to be on board and enthused, want to persuade and convince and hate being unpopular. They find it easy to inspire and motivate but can easily lose the plot and become sidetracked. Their desire to be loved can make them avoid the tough stufff and be too 'nice'. High S's want stability, are uncomfortable with change and want to be left alone to get on with it - a leadership style that doesn't sit at all well with driving improvement and change. As for High C's, they love order and method, are driven by rules and control and hate conflict and uncertainty. Inspiration and the High C are unlikely bedfellows in many ways. Put a High I with a High C and one or both of them will need to be very flexible if they are to reach any kind of accomodation.
To be continued...

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