Why we don’t use psychometric tools

Let me share our operating context first.

We help chief executives build the capability of their leadership teams, and so we are typically working with individuals and teams of up to 12 or so. Small populations. Working closely together.

For us, psychometrics don’t work for a number of reasons:

  • Some participants can hide behind labels that excuse dysfunctional behaviours. They can believe their labels are enduring statements of truth about how they show up. “I am a Red WXYZ, and that’s just the way I operate”.
  • They are a seductive waste of time. It is human nature to respond to an online questionnaire carefully and perhaps defensively, and then closely study the well-presented report all about us.
  • They can seduce facilitators too into believing they are doing good work for their clients. Following the contents of a scripted report is not the same as stepping into the messy and difficult space “between the noses” where the elephants roam!
  • Many psychometric tools seem to have dubious foundations. How can they accurately capture the complexity of being human in demanding leadership roles in multiple, ever-changing contexts?
  • Lack of context is a problem. They present a snapshot, ignoring that we present different versions of our deepest selves under different conditions at different times.
  • For executive leadership teams the appetite for these tools can be dulled to the point of resentment or disregard if executives have been subjected to these over several years. Especially with different results. This in turn can introduce risk to the success of subsequent development work.

There are far more powerfully self-aware ways into illuminating conversations about how we individually and collectively show up at work, or wherever. For us these include context-specific first and second person reflective narratives and verbal testimony, workplace observation, experiential simulations of workplace scenarios, constellations etc..

What do you think?

Are clients missing out on some richness that is worth their time and money?

Do we need to revisit our position on this?

Dave Stewart
Managing Director
The Fresh Air Leadership Company

27th July 2023