Psychometric testing for leadership roles


When planning a recruitment campaign for a leadership role, psychometric testing for desirable traits can be really helpful in gaining a comprehensive and deep understanding of potential candidates. According to The Independent, 75% of fortune 500 companies include psychometric testing as part of their recruitment.

There are no hard and fast rules about which personality types make the best leaders. Desired attributes will be determined by your company culture, team dynamics, the role and responsibilities overseen by the candidate.

The key is knowing how to select the right traits for your company, team or role. There are a number of profiling methods that can be employed in this process.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Personality Types

The Myers Briggs method, based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type, is perhaps one of the most well-known personality indicators.

Introversion versus extraversion is just one of the elements or traits that this method measures:

  • Where you focus your attention – Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)
  • The way you take in information – Sensing (S) or INtuition (N)
  • How you make decisions – Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • How you deal with the world – Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

An “INTJ” is a typical introvert profile, but the way the various elements interact can give rise to a more complex and informative analysis.

For example, a similar profile expressed as an extrovert, such as the ENTJ ‘Commander’ or ‘Chief’ personality is “frank, decisive, and assumes leadership readily” but can be “forceful in presenting their ideas”. However a different type of extrovert might be more empathetic, for example an ENFJ ‘Protagonist’ or ‘Advocate’ personality, which is “warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible”.

When recruiting for a senior role, the future success of the appointment can be greatly increased by considering at this stage which type of leader the role requires.

The ENTJ Commander is part of the “analyst” group of personality types. In a manufacturing environment, the ability of an ENTJ Commander leader to “quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, and to develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organisational problems”, may be a huge advantage.

But in the case of a merger, the empathy that an ENFJ brings could strongly influence the success of the merger, particularly when the role involves smoothing the waters among staff if there are differences between the two company cultures or there is a reluctance to accept the change.

The ENFJ Advocate leader can “find potential in everyone … act as catalysts for individual and group growth” and are “sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.”

Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama are famous examples of the Advocate personality type.


DISC Profiling

The DISC profile system is a way of describing how people approach their work and relationships. “DISC” is an acronym for the descriptive words that make up the main personality types it describes:

  • D = Dominance
  • I = Influence
  • S = Steadiness
  • C = Conscientiousness

This can be a useful tool for understanding what motivates and drives people, which can help with team dynamics, general people management and designing employee reward systems.

For example, a strong “D” personality can make a good manager in a results-driven environment. Key aspects of a D personality are results, action and challenge. Their personal goals relate to bottom-line results and achieving victory. Their leadership qualities include showing confidence, focusing on results and taking charge. A potential weakness for this leader is a fear of being taken advantage of or appearing weak. This could manifest itself in an overly authoritarian style of leadership or even bullying if the right checks and controls aren’t put into place.

More often, a personality expressed as a DISC score will encompass more than one element of the four characteristics, sometimes equally, and sometimes with one characteristic being more dominant.

“I” people like to be popular and can be great at generating enthusiasm and building professional networks. A ‘D’ leadership candidate with an element of the “I” personality is associated with enthusiasm, action and collaboration, so may balance out the negative attributes of a D, and become a more popular leader with stronger influence.


Tbe Revised NEO Personality Inventory uses a 240-item measurement system to look at five main personality traits that are commonly associated with leadership:

  • Neuroticism
  • Extraversion
  • Openness
  • Agreeableness
  • Consciensiousness

In psychological terms, NEO stands for neuroticism (emotional resilience), extraversion (how much energy you put into interactions with others) and openness (how open you are to new or different experiences). These traits formed the original core of the model, with agreeableness and conscientiousness being added later on.

As organisations now face increasingly complex challenges, particularly around the changing nature of work and global communications, talented leaders are needed more than ever.

We need leaders who posses the skills and attributes to be flexible, adopting their style and strategies to bring out the best in all employees and help companies maintain a competitive advantage. When it comes to building a team, it’s important to ensure you have the right mix of personalities and skill sets.

With this in mind, we continually review the TS Grale executive search and selection process against changing market demands.

Most recently, we have taken evidence from our World Class Leader Report and are in the process of incorporating these insights into our market-leading assessment tool. The new tool will be launched later this year.

To discuss psychometric testing for leadership roles and building a profile for a new role, give us a call today on 0113 487 9300.

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