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Podcast Transcript

Inside Out View

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:10  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Marsha, we are back again with another thought provoking discussion this week that builds a lot on what we've explored last week in our "You 101" episode with Rebecca Bales.

Marsha Clark  0:36  
Yes, Wendi, thank you. And we are building on last week's exploration of the importance of really building self awareness and getting clarity on our strengths and our blind spots. And last week was a bit of a deep dive on that topic. And this week, we're going to stay at a higher level and provide a review of sorts of some of our favorite assessment tools. You know, we get a lot of requests from our listeners to share our "go to" tools, if you will. And this episode is focused on providing that kind of information.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:05  
I love it. I love it when we're supporting our listeners with exactly, with responding to their requests. So let's get started. All right, the name of this week's episode is entitled "Inside-Out View". And you actually talked about that in the intro of your book, "Embracing Your Power", as well as touching on it last week.

Marsha Clark  1:27  
Yeah, I use that phrase a lot when I'm delivering workshops or coaching. And you know that oftentimes, our most powerful learning and development comes from this inside-out approach. And it's that focus and commitment to building self awareness or self knowledge, to recognize that my personal journey to my most authentic and powerful self has to be internally driven and self determined. And I say it in the book, it starts with me. And let me also add an important caveat to that idea. I'm not saying that feedback on our strengths and blind spots isn't valuable. It is incredibly valuable, period. This is not an either or proposition. Feedback from others supports our self discovery.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:13  
Absolutely. And you're not advocating that we build our self awareness solely on our own experience or evidence, but that our journey to self discovery includes both internal and external feedback.

Marsha Clark  2:27  
That's right. It's a both-and, and even when I receive external feedback, it's not going to have a sustainable or positive impact on my awareness and ultimate choices if I don't internalize it, right. So I have to acknowledge and own my story about myself so that I can truly leverage the power of that awareness.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:48  
So one of the most effective and efficient ways of increasing self awareness is through the use of assessment tools. Let's talk about that.

Marsha Clark  2:56  
Yeah, and for the purposes of today, we are going to focus on self assessment tools for that inside-out view. And there are other ways to get insight on your strengths and blind spots, the predominant and simplest approach being that of informal feedback. And how do you ask for feedback without using the word feedback?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:14  
Yeah, because sometimes that scares people. I'd like some feedback.

Marsha Clark  3:17  
Well, it scares people sometimes to ask for it and to answer, right? So the other thing I want to say about it is that we can often appear needy or lacking confidence if we're going to our boss or our customer, or whatever, how'd I do, how'd I do, how'd I do? Feedback for me, any feedback for me? And it's like, we need them to affirm our goodness, right? And so it can be insecure, lack of confidence, or just annoying or needy, none of which we want to be called. (Right.) And so, here's what I want to hear. And I think I've said this in a previous episode. We've done too many now for me to remember them all, but here's the way you do it. Wendi, you're my boss. So I'm going to go in to you, and we've just finished a big high level project. And I'm going to say to you, Wendi, you know, we just completed big project ABC I'm really proud of the results that we were able to achieve, and the team did a great job (results plus recognition equals power), and just focused on that. And Wendi, I want to share with you some of the things I thought went really well - A, B, C, D, whatever all those things are. Then I'm gonna say, you know the other thing, Wendi, I want to offer to you is that I learned a lot on this project. And if I had it to do over again, there's some things I might do differently and that would be 1, 2, 3, 4, and I think that'll help me in future projects. Is there anything that you recognized or noticed or observed that I've missed when I think about what went well and what I would do differently? Do you have anything? I know you've got a lot more experience in running projects of this sort and I'd love to learn from you or hear from you if you think there's something else that that I've missed as I did my own analysis. And then I'd listen. (Yeah.) I never used the word feedback.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:11  

Marsha Clark  5:12  
I demonstrated to you that I know what I'm doing, I know what worked well and I'm a learner, right? This is what I did. This is what I learned. This is how it will help me going forward, three questions of learning agility. So we're bringing in a lot of different tools into this conversation. And it's a way of getting, quote unquote, "informal feedback", or in the moment, or project specific or task oriented specific feedback, because you're going to get what you need. They're either going to say, "Great job, I don't I don't have anything to add" in which case you go, "thank you", but you've let them know some things. Or as a boss, I can tell you, it's easier for me to come up with one or two things than it is to start with a blank sheet of paper and try to remember everything.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:01  
Exactly. That's what I really wanted to make sure that you pointed out to our listeners that by you offering the here are the four things that we did really well, here are the three to four things that I learned. Do you have any comments or insights into how you observed my behavior or the team's behavior on this project? That gives me a sandbox rather than a blue ocean.

Marsha Clark  6:28  
Right! Great analogy.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:30  
Yeah, so asking the people you're working with, your boss, your peers, your customers, that's who you're asking, right?

Marsha Clark  6:39  
That's right. And, you know, seeking feedback is not only a great way to receive input on your performance or approach, but it does also demonstrate that willingness to learn and improve and you're demonstrating that to those people that you're asking for feedback from, and you become a role model for that continuous improvement to those who are working with and for and around you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:01  
And that's a great point.

Marsha Clark  7:03  
Yeah, and another option for obtaining feedback, of course, is to go a more formal route and use some kind of, they're referred to as multi rater tools, where your manager, you know, your peers, your customers, and direct reports, if you have them, that can provide input on your performance. And, you know, more times than not, these are typically anonymous and usually what they're doing is synthesizing our patterns in behavior across a different set of raters or, you know, stakeholders.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:34  
Okay. So what's the advantage of going the route of using a formal assessment tool like that?

Marsha Clark  7:41  
Well, there are multiple advantages and they depend on the extensiveness of the assessment itself. But the biggest pluses are one, the anonymity helps people feel more comfortable to speak their truth and provide some unfiltered feedback. And I say that with a caveat, I suppose, that if I'm working in a company or an organization whose culture is not one of high trust, I may not trust that if I'm filling out something electronically, which is typically what these are, that it's not going to get tracked back to me anyway. So that's kind of a double edged sword. I just want to acknowledge that for our listeners. And the second plus or potential plus is that collective feedback is more indicative of showing the patterns in my behavior versus a one off, you know, comment, or something that Joe doesn't like it, or Susie doesn't like it. And that tends to be more reliable than that simple feedback from one source.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:39  
Yeah, this is another situation where a dot's a dot, two dots are a line and three dots are a trend, isn't it?

Marsha Clark  8:46  
There it is, again, so you know, as you know, that's a phrase I use quite a bit. And it's definitely relevant in this situation. If I get feedback from one person once, you give me feedback, it's a dot. And it's a single data point. And it doesn't mean I ignore it, and it does mean that I consider it in context. Now, if I hear the same or similar feedback from someone else, we now have two dots. So there's a line forming here, right? Two dots, when you draw a straight line from one dot to the next dot, it's a line. Now I'm paying a little bit more attention. That's a second time I've heard that. And now I'm wondering if and where and when this has become or is a pattern. And by the time I hear that feedback from a third source, that's three dots. I now have a trend line. And I need to acknowledge that there's some grounding or some legitimacy to that feedback.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:42  
I cannot tell you how many times this phrase pops into my head. I you know, I don't even have to go through the whole thing. It just starts as a dot's a dot and my brain just kind of fills in the rest. And it's a simple phrase to help me consider the context, like you said, for whatever's happening and to be on the lookout for a second dot or a third dot that might be lining up and I didn't even realize it.

Marsha Clark  10:09  
That's a really good point, Wendi. And you know, you don't have to go to the expense and effort of what's often referred to as the 360 assessment, right. So it's another name for the multi rater tools. They can and they do get pricey so you know, with some tools getting into even the $1,000's of dollars, but you can easily solicit informal feedback from multiple sources, and look for those patterns yourself. But you've got to be open to it, and you've got to pay attention. And you've got to notice and just recognize that people may sugarcoat their input, again, if they don't feel 100% safe to speak their truth to you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:46  
Absolutely. I mean, and what's the point of asking for feedback if you're not going to receive honest answers?

Marsha Clark  10:53  
And demonstrating that you're open to feedback encourages such feedback and encourages or supports the psychological safety for the giver that, you know, we often talk about here is the psychological safety.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  11:08  
Right. So feedback, even though it's coming from an external source, is one way to increase or deepen your self awareness.

Marsha Clark  11:17  
It's a great opportunity to get clarity, and especially on those blind spots where others can see us doing something, but we don't recognize it ourselves.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  11:27  
Okay. So in terms of our episode titled today the "Inside-Out View", I'm thinking that the external feedback is more of an outside-in approach, right?

Marsha Clark  11:39  
That's a yes and no. (Okay.) External feedback is an outside-in process, that part is the yes part. But in order for that outside-in feedback to stick and be productively applied, we're still talking about an inside out process. I have to be willing to listen to the feedback, consider the context of the feedback, and take what works from that input to apply to my whether you call it development plan or performance goals.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:10  
Okay. Take what works. Let's talk more about that. Are you saying that not all feedback needs to be used or applied?

Marsha Clark  12:18  
That's exactly what I'm saying, Wendi. And remember back to the adage of a dot's a dot. If I only hear this feedback once or even if I'm hearing it more than once but only from the same person, all right, then I need to consider the source. I often say feedback says as much about the giver as it does the receiver. And the feedback may be far more about them than it is about me and my performance. So I may be just doing something differently than they would but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Is their feedback about style or preference or is it about performance?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:00  
Hmm. So I'm guessing they're even exclusions to that idea because if the feedback is consistently coming from your boss or your client, then I'm thinking that bumps it up on the priority scale.

Marsha Clark  13:13  
That is absolutely true. Let's just be realistic about that. There may be times even when a preferential treatment on your part is worth doing even if it's just for one, you know, important stakeholder. You can define important in whatever way you'd like. And for our listeners who followed along with our conflict resolution series that we recently aired, you may choose to accommodate this particular person and apply their feedback because for you, the relationship takes precedent over your preferred way to do something because that is just a style issue. If you can do it another way doesn't mean it's wrong. It's just different. And so strategically accommodating someone and making an adjustment on your end based on their feedback is about being situationally savvy. And having said that, remember to be alert for the signs of abuse of that relationship power. Know your boundaries, and stick to them when you need to.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:11  
Okay, so we've talked about the importance of accepting and applying individual feedback from superiors or your customer. What other examples do you have for when or why to incorporate feedback from just one source?

Marsha Clark  14:26  
And sometimes especially when we hold positional power or expert power, people will hesitate to give us feedback, right? You're the expert, you're the ace in the front of the room kind of thing. So it may be because the other person believes it's disrespectful to correct a superior. Some national cultures you know, hold that belief. Or maybe because the organizational culture is so toxic that people are afraid to speak up and offer constructive feedback to someone higher up in the org chart. So, but in the off chance that someone who is not at the same hierarchical level as you are, maybe it's someone (I hate the higher-lower) but lower in the hierarchy than you are, if they decide to speak honestly to you about your behavior, I just encourage our listeners to listen. Take it in. They may not be the only person who's observed this particular behavior in you, but they may be the only one that's brave enough to say anything about it to your face.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:30  
Ah! I'm so glad you brought that up. So if we circle back to the a dot's a dot, then sometimes we even need to pay special attention to the dots before they have a chance to become a line or a trend.

Marsha Clark  15:43  
Well, that's a good way to put it. And it reminds me of something that Mel Robbins said, and this was in an impromptu interview. And for our listeners who might not be familiar with Mel Robbins, she's a former attorney, political analyst, motivational speaker and author and her 2011 TEDx talk (and I love this title) "How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over", (You're just doing damage to yourself, right?) has nearly 29.6 million views. So there are a few people who relate to that. And she's the author of two books, "The 5 Second Rule" and "The High 5 Habit". So you know, just getting back to her commentary on feedback, she said, feedback is intense to receive. I mean, I agree with that. It really is because you're exposing yourself to critical opinions. It will make you feel very vulnerable and the way that I handle feedback and process it. And I'm very clear about the things that I will receive feedback on and I'm very clear about the things I will not receive feedback on. And the reason why is if you don't listen to any feedback at all, guys, you're never going to improve. You're never going to ever do anything new, so no feedback means nothing new. And my parenthetical insert is, and on the other hand, if you listen to everybody or everything that everybody says in terms of feedback, if you allow everybody to weigh in on everything, it's going to become so paralyzing that you will do nothing new. So we're at the same place. The key with feedback is knowing yourself and knowing what you actually accept feedback on and knowing what you don't accept feedback on.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  17:29  

Marsha Clark  17:30  
And Wendi, I think about this, you don't get to tell me what my values are. (Right.) That would be an example of I'm not accepting feedback on my values. You can talk to me about, you know how I delivered that product or that deliverable or, you know, conducted coaching that was helpful or not helpful, teaching that was helpful or not, but not when it comes to certain things.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  17:50  
Exactly. So this has been really helpful to discuss how feedback can be a valuable source for enhancing self awareness. But let's shift gears and discuss the tools that help us get clarity on that inside-out view, specifically talking about self assessments.

Marsha Clark  18:11  
It's a good shift. And I'm going to say that the same wisdom applies here about looking for multiple sources of input and validation of your behaviors. Because just one assessment that types you, or profiles you is, in some ways, just one filter through which you can examine your patterns to get the I call it the full Technicolor portrait of your style, your approach, your drivers, whatever it is that you're measuring. You're going to want that input from a variety of sources.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:39  
Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, as we discussed last week, we are wonderfully complex human beings. So just one assessment tool isn't ever going to give us the complete and total picture of who we are. And even assessment companies recognize that and often create suites of tools that can examine different facets of behavior or performance.

Marsha Clark  19:01  
And it's one reason why we use a variety of assessment tools in our leadership programs, and with my clients, coaching clients. And even though the tools are technically exploring different facets of whether it be personality, preferences and defaults, when they're combined and synthesized, they provide a fairly consistent story of who we are. So I often use the phrase wherever you go, there you are.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:29  
Um hm. I've heard you say that before. So how does that relate to the various assessments?

Marsha Clark  19:34  
Yes. So over time, as as new assessment data comes in, because let's just think about over a career you're going to get different kinds, what our participants and coaching clients begin to see is that three dot trendline forming, right? So this assessment tells me I'm bold and outspoken. And the next one I take tells me that I'm courageous and a high risk taker. And then the next one says I'm the first to stand up and take charge. And at some point, when I step back and look at the results of all of my assessments, I will begin to see those themes emerge and that wherever I go, whichever assessment I take, there I am again. And it begins to tell a relatively consistent story of me, and how I show up in the world.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:19  
Okay, so could there possibly be a danger that the data you receive from a self assessment can be skewed or inaccurate? I mean, by definition, it's a self assessment and if you're not very self aware in the first place, could you affect the results in some way and get a false report, or if I'm not in a great mood today, you know. Do you need to take these assessments multiple times?

Marsha Clark  20:47  
Yeah, of course you know the answer is gonna be "it depends". But yeah, it's possible to either intentionally manipulate your responses or unintentionally do it and end up with a profile or a report that doesn't really reflect who you are, at least maybe on the surface, or maybe even at a deeper level. So intentionally, we know that people sometimes try to trick the test, so to speak, and they provide the answers they believe ar the right answers, right? (Yeah.) And some assessments are so scientifically sound that quite honestly, it's hard to do that. So the two tests of good assessments is the predictability and the reliability of the you know, it's a statistical and it's really hard. There's a lot of math, you know. And we've probably all taken those assessments that are hundreds of questions long, and it feels like they're asking the same thing over and over but in a slightly different way. And the checks and balances that are built into many of those assessments are intended to help work around those attempts of one who's taking the assessment to manipulate their results.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:55  
Right. And that's the reason why they're asking the same question over and over in a slightly different way to really hone in on on your true answer. So if people think there is a quote, "right answer" as in culturally or organizationally preferred style or approach, people might have the tendency to answer those questions based on that ideal and try to match that ideal. So what's happening with people who unintentionally skew those results?

Marsha Clark  22:29  
Yeah, there are a couple of different things that are often at play in those situations. One is someone simply misunderstands, you know, or skips over the instructions. And I've taken so many of them, I kind of go yep, yep, I got it, you know, for them and so for example, they don't understand that they're supposed to be answering about their style or approach as it relates to them most of the time, overtime, right, not  what mood I'm in today to your question earlier. And they start answering away based on how they're feeling or operating in that current moment or under current conditions. And that may or may not be reflective of their true or more authentic self. So answering a broad range assessment with a specific situation in mind can skew the results of some of the tools.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:12  
Yep. And I'm pretty sure I've done that like taking the test when I'm tired, cranky, it's raining outside, whatever.

Marsha Clark  23:19  
Just add an argument with somebody, boss, husband, whatever it might be. It's easy to do, and especially if the assessments, you know, aren't set up as clearly as we'd like for them to be.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:30  
Right or you're an impatient type A personality and you just skip the instructions.

Marsha Clark  23:35  
Well, that's true, yes, that too. So the instructions are critical because there are typically some things that assessments ask you to do or not do and some of it could be to think of a specific situation or person. So taking the time to fully understand the objective of the assessment in the instructions can make the difference between a quality, accurate report or something that just doesn't fit and is virtually useless.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:01  
So results can be skewed when we don't take our time or don't understand the tool. What else can unintentionally skew our results?

Marsha Clark  24:10  
Yeah, so this is similar to the situation from before where there is an imaginary or unspoken ideal or right answer that we think the assessment is trying to identify. And I might not be intentionally trying to manipulate the answers to game the system if you will, but I may be skewing my answers not based on who I am in reality, but who I want to be. And this is that my idealized or or my aspirational self, and it's somewhat of a slow sort of subconscious drift out of my lane of reality into the lane of not yet or maybe not ever, but I answer it as if it is true today.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:56  
Yeah, I can see that happening pretty easily. So how can our listeners watch out for that?

Marsha Clark  25:02  
Yeah. And perhaps the easiest way to check is just to ask a trusted colleague or friend or coach if the "you", you know, who is reflected in your report is the you they experience. In other words, every time when we offer the results of the assessments that we use in the programs you get a chance to read your own report. And then you sit with a group of people that you've spent time with, and say, you know, I was surprised to see this, how do I show up for you on that, or this is tried and true. Or they may not like the language of the report, but then when they read the description of what that language represents they go oh, yeah, they got me. The label itself might not, but the description of what the label represents. So you know, another option is triangulating your own data. So look for three sources of input that you can compare against. So this could be data from other similar assessments, it could be asking for feedback from a peer or colleague. You're not necessarily going to have identical language from one assessment to the other, but you're gonna have some overlap with themes as I mentioned earlier.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:16  
Yeah. All right. So now I want to get to the nitty gritty, because I know our listeners are probably chomping at the bit to hear. What do you think are your top five self assessments for our listeners? What would they be? Why do you like them?

Marsha Clark  26:33  
Well, I'm glad I knew you're going to ask that question so I could be prepared and so I couldn't narrow it down to five. That's the real bottom line answer. (Wow.) So I'm going to share my top eight. And I'll share them in the order that we often use them in our programs where we're going from self awareness to interpersonal to team and so on. We have an intentionality to that order. So the first one is the Imposter Test which if our listeners caught our first episode on the imposter phenomenon, (We did three. We called the episode "Practically Perfect in Every Way", it was episode number 48.) they heard about the test, and you can find it in my book, "Embracing Your Power", or online at Okay? That's the first one and the whole idea of the imposter test is to determine to what degree the imposter phenomenon or the imposter syndrome is present in your life.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:39  
Right, got it.

Marsha Clark  27:40  
Okay, the second one is Masculine and Feminine Attributes. And unlike the others in this list, this is something that I came up with and adapted based on the work of Dr. Sandra Bem. And this really recognizes that we have both masculine and feminine attributes and each and every one of us, male or female. Masculine does not equal male, feminine does not equal female. I have masculine, feminine. You have masculine, feminine. Joe has masculine, feminine. Bob has masculine, feminine so all of that and Dr. Bem did work around stereotypes, so attributes that are typically seen as masculine or feminine.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:23  
That was one of my favorite exercises in the Power of Self Program was the masculine men are feminine men or yeah, feminine men are at work and not at work, not at work. And then same thing for women, masculine women are feminine women are at work at home. Yes, was fascinating the word clouds that came out.

Marsha Clark  28:45  
Well, it is. And so we've included that in chapter two of the book, "Embracing Your Power" page 32 for those who are following along. And then the third one is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. And many people are familiar with this particular one, it's been around for a long time. We used it for nearly 20 years in our programs. And it explores the degree to which we prefer extraversion to introversion, sensing to intuition, thinking to feeling and judging to perceiving. And quite honestly in the past few years, we've shifted in many of our programs to using the Lumina Spark instrument that Rebecca Bales talked about in last week's "You 101" episode.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:28  
Yes, I highly recommend that our listeners go back and listen to last week's show if you want to learn more about the Lumina Spark Self Assessment. It's a great tool.

Marsha Clark  29:38  
Yeah, and a good call out because I encourage them to do the same. And you know what convinced me to bring in the Lumina Spark is because it does provide us with a much deeper and more differentiated picture of our preferences and our personas. So to that end, Lumina Spark is my number four favorite instrument. And number five is StrengthsFinder and many people have also taken this because it's been around for a while. And the beauty of this self assessment is that it's very easy to self administer and very accessible to everyone in your team considering that the cost is really reasonable.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:13  
Okay, something that I love about the StrengthsFinder is that it starts to solidify your personal brand. Or at least that's where I started to settle in on this evolving story of me. You know, since I was taking these assessments over time through your program, I began to notice these themes that were emerging. And I just want to add that if you looked at my phone and looked at my contact info, when I go to share my contact info with other people, I list my five StrengthsFinder. They're in my contact description in the notes.

Marsha Clark  30:49  
I see that with a lot of, you know, whether it be in your address block on your emails, or whatever it might be. And so, you know, again, wherever you go, there you are. And by that third or fourth assessment, there are some common threads that begin to emerge for most of the people. And, you know, when you're able to sit back and watch that story of you, you know, because it's a story, right, that you're evolving. And I love how you said it. As you consider the data that continues to add the nuance or the greater clarity to your story, then you really are increasing and deepening your self awareness.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:23  
Absolutely. And I know that StrengthsFinder is also used by a lot of teams to look for, and they're looking to add that value of the diversity of the team. So they're celebrating that the team's individual strengths are different, but collectively, the team covers many, if not all, of the critical strength needed for a healthy sustainable organization.

Marsha Clark  31:47  
You're so right, Wendi. And, you know, we facilitate numerous team sessions where the individual members take the StrengthsFinder assessment, and then we explore how the whole team, you know, maps out against the 34 talents identified in the tool. And, you know, for group reports, we break the 34 talents into four domains, and we look at them as strategic thinking, influencing, relationship building and executing. So we've kind of got an internal/external, you know, view of it all. And we lead a dialogue with the team on where they are collectively strong and where there may be important gaps that they need to address. And if 80% of the team is good at relationship building but very low in execution, that team as a whole is probably going to struggle.

Yeah, but they're going to be really nice to each other and have a lot of fun!

That's right. They're gonna love each other.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:34  
That's right. So this is where the assessment tools really start to show the value and importance of the diversity on a team.

Marsha Clark  32:44  
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, just as they are incredibly powerful for personal awareness and development, tools like we're talking about today can be just as useful for building a high performing team.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:56  
All right, we left off at number five of your top eight favorite self assessments. Number five was StrengthsFinder. What's number six?

Marsha Clark  33:05  
Alright, so number six is the TKI or Thomas/Killman Instrument, which many of our listeners know by now if they listened to the six episodes we did on managing conflict. So the TKI is another great tool to use both individually to assess your preferred conflict response modes, and used with others to compare and contrast approaches and identify where your differences might be actually adding fuel to that fire often generated through conflict.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:35  
And so what's number seven?

Marsha Clark  33:37  
Well, I'm a huge fan of what's referred to as the FIRO-B, which unlike the MBTI, or Myers Briggs Type Indicator is not widely known. So the letters FIRO-B stands for Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation, and the B stands for Behaviors. Now, you know why they call it FIRO-B because that's a really long title. (Yep.) So this assessment is a really nice bridge for us in our programs as we begin this shift from an emphasis on understanding self to a wider aperture, if you will, and we're now deliberately looking at ourselves in relationship to others. So the FIRO-B assessment helps us examine what our fundamental interpersonal needs are in three different forms: 1) inclusion 2) control and 3) openness. And this instrument is based on the work of Will Schutz and the FIRO-B self assessment shows us the degrees to which we want others to include us, we want others to take control and we want others to be open or transparent with us. And then the flip side of the tool, all measured in the same assessment tool, measures how much we express our needs openly to others in terms of actively including others, actively taking control and actively being open with others.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:19  
Yeah, we're planning to do an entire episode on the FIRO-B at some point in the future, right?

Marsha Clark  35:25  
Well, yes, it's a great standalone topic and it's going to be in Book Two because that's, you know, this book is about self awareness and interpersonal. The second book is going to be about teams and organizations. So this one ties in with that one.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:40  
Excellent. Okay, so number seven was by FIRO-B. And number eight is,

Marsha Clark  35:45  
Number eight is "BrainStyles" by Marlane Miller.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:48  
Yes, this was a good one, and she has her own book, also, on it.

Marsha Clark  35:55  
By the same title, "BrainStyles". And I love this one. We often get some, some of our highest ratings on value of content on this particular book. And I will tell you, just in essence of what the tool measures, it looks at how we make decisions in new or mostly unfamiliar situations. And it is based on the physiology of our brains. And, you know, I met Marlane when we were looking at different tools. Someone, a colleague, recommended it to me. I'd never heard of it, never used it, and went and talked to her about it and was just fascinated by it. And you know, this was at the end of 90's, into 2000 when we were doing this research and it gives us a new lens that most people have not used before they see this instrument and their results. And they begin to look at their own innate gifts very differently and, dare I say, more positively. And not just their own, but others knowing that it is physiologically driven and not you're, you're not just trying to drive me crazy when you do things differently than I do. And one of my favorite messages from "BrainStyles" is that we have one natural brainstyle, and that there is incredible power in getting clear about it and owning it and less worrying about how you quote unquote "should" (you know how I feel about should, don't should on yourself, don't should on others.) But how you should be different and how more energy is spent on leveraging and celebrating your gifts and talents versus trying to be, you know, work so hard on something that's not innately your gift and talent. So it's a very affirming and empowering message.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:38  
Yeah, this is a big reason why your programs are so appealing to your clients. I mean, I've already admitted repeatedly that I'm an assessment junkie. I love learning this stuff. And I remember learning about "BrainStyles" for the first time in the Power of Self Program and being struck by how freeing it was to have a definition around that.

Marsha Clark  38:01  
Yes. And you know, you may also remember that we teach each other. So it's not me standing in front of the room, because I'm only one brainstyle. But we teach each other based on what the brainstyles are. And I often ask people, as you hear these descriptions, who are people in your circle and what questions would you have about working with them effectively? Well, if you think they are a deliberator for example, ask the deliberators how to best work with them. If you think they are a knower, ask them how they ask you the best way. So it really works out well. And for our listeners, you can find out more about this at  

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:46  
Yeah, I think pretty much all of the assessments that you, we've talked about are accessible on the internet somewhere, except maybe that masculine feminine attributes list that you adapted.

Marsha Clark  38:57  
Yeah, you're right. And some of the assessments, and I want to be really clear with our listeners, like the MBTI or Lumina or FIRO-B or BrainStyles, they require you to work with a qualified facilitator, but you can still get a lot of information about these assessments and access them. And as you said, there are books that are often accompanying that would give you a lot of good explanation.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:20  
Good to know. Good to know. Thank you for that. So Marsha, we've had a nice focused exploration on the importance of increasing or deepening self awareness. And then we looked at some of our favorite self assessment tools. What final thoughts do you have for our listeners today?

Marsha Clark  39:38  
Well, I'm struck again by what Mel Robbins said about getting feedback, whether from external sources or self assessments, or wherever and too little feedback, and you do nothing, overwhelmed with too much feedback leaves us paralyzed with indecision and again, we do nothing. So you know, gaining clarity on our strengths and our preferences and our patterns and our defaults is one way we step into our power. And I want to say that, again. Gaining clarity on our strengths, our preferences, our patterns and defaults is one way we step into our power. And of course, the book is about "Embracing Your Power". So it's a big deal for me to talk about what enables us to more freely and effectively step into our power. And probably my other final thought is just as assessments provide clarity for individuals, they can identify collective strengths and potential performance opportunities for for teams as well. And there are many other popular assessments on the market and some of what we use with specific clients. And if our listeners have a favorite self assessment, we'd love to hear from them as well. I know there's the Enneagram, there's the... so not only the name of the assessment, but I'd love to know why they like it because I'm open and all of that. And I want to give a piece of advice to our listeners. And that is as you do assessments over your career, or, you know, personal life, wherever you may take these, keep them all in one place. You know, I wish I'd done this. I've lost half of them, you know, because I go way back for me because I'm old. But one of the things we do in the program is we take these different assessments that we use in the program and we summarize them into a single file.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:33  

Marsha Clark  41:34  
And we ask or encourage the participants in the programs to find a time after the program is over to take this file, and it's maybe 12 or 15 pages long, and to read it from front to back just in one sitting. And the first time just read it, just take it in. The second time read it and begin to notice where those themes and patterns emerge. Because no matter what the instrument is measuring, decision making, conflict, group dynamics, you know, personality styles, masculine/feminine strengths, whatever. What keeps showing up to your point, and that increased self awareness. So if you keep them all in one place, and I've also found it's fascinating if I took an instrument at 27 and now I'm taking it at 37, or 47, or 57, or whatever it might be, how I've grown and changed and evolved and matured. It gives me a sense of satisfaction or contentment. Or I like the direction, you know that my life is going. (Yeah.) And so I want to encourage our listeners, if, if you're early in your career, find that place right now. If you're later in your career, maybe you can gather up as many as you can find electronically or in paper or whatever and just think about finding that moment to read through. And who am I in the spirit of "wherever I go, there I am" because I'm taking that stuff with me everywhere.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  43:07  
Yes, absolutely. Well as Marsha was talking, I was looking at my files and I have all of my tests from the Power of Self Program. So yes, and listeners as you're listening to this episode, please add your comments about your favorite self assessment below. Whether you're catching this on LinkedIn or Facebook, or you know, you've downloaded the latest episode through iTunes, please find a place where you can comment  on Marsha's question because we'd love to hear some of your favorite self assessments if they're ones that we haven't talked about already today.

Marsha Clark  43:47  
Well, and Wendi, I too encourage our listeners. We love hearing from you. And we're always open to new possibilities, new thoughts, new ways, new tools.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  43:56  
A new inside-out view. Well, thank you, listeners for joining us today on this journey of authentic powerful leadership. Please download, subscribe and share this podcast from wherever you like to listen. Visit Marsha's website at There are many links to all the tools and resources we talked about today. Subscribe to her email list. We'll have them in there. Please check out her latest book if you haven't purchased it already "Embracing Your Power" on the site as well as her other social media.

Marsha Clark  44:32  
Well, and Wendi, I want to put another twist on today's episode in the spirit of women supporting women. So if you've listened to his very long, you know, I close every every episode with that. And I'm thinking today about you can be a woman who supports another woman by providing feedback. And it doesn't always have to be, we often you know, think about feedback as negative feedback. You know, it's critical in the sense of judgmental or shaming or you know, it's hard to hear sometimes. But just telling people good things. I mean I just want to make sure our listeners walk away with the idea of providing positive feedback. There's an old adage of rewarded performance is repeated. And one of the ways you can reward is to describe, you know, to give you feedback, you really rocked it when you're giving that presentation or Oh, my gosh, when you answered the question, you knocked it out of the park, whatever that might be. And so providing feedback is a useful tool. And if you get asked to provide or participate in one of these multi rater assessments, do it. (Yeah.) And don't sugarcoat it, or don't use it as a weaponized tool that I can get back at because I don't have the guts to tell you this to your to your face, but boy, give me a chance and I'll let you have it on the anonymous online instrument. So being there in those ways to support each other I think is another way in which and so don't be afraid to ask other women for input. And I'm not just saying other women, but we can see each other in ways that men can't see and be willing to provide it either through formal or informal structures. And so I just offered that as, again another way of, here's to women supporting women!

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