When I coach, one of the things people have a hard time reconciling is their self-perception of what they’re good at vs. what gives them energy. People can spend years toiling in a position, maybe even delivering great results and being successful, but wondering why they’re still so miserable at the end of each day and why they dread going in. It’s often because they’re fighting who they are instead of leveraging it. Sometimes it’s helpful when I share a story about my own complicated journey to a satisfying career.
When I first came to MRG as the Education Manager 10 years ago, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Having taught high school English and then working in software, I was eager to get back into something that felt more aligned with my interest in human development, and MRG seemed like the perfect fit. As part of my interview process, I was invited to take MRG’s IDI and LEA assessments. Having never had any experience with psychological assessments, I jumped in and was eager to learn the results.
To my delight, whatever was in my results didn’t scare MRG away, and they hired me for the Education Manager position. Shortly after I was hired, I sat down with Jim Lomac, one of the founders of MRG, to receive my feedback. It was clear that my LEA results aligned with what MRG was looking for in an Education Manager; the role required someone to think strategically, be persuasive, communicate well, and take charge. My IDI results, however, painted a different story.
Some of my scores were quite validating. High on Excelling – I’ve always pushed myself hard. High on Creating – I loved creating new training materials and picturing how the students would react to them. However, a few of the scores were troubling. High on Gaining Stature? I don’t need pats on the back and validation for my accomplishments. I’m not that needy! Low on Winning? I was a competitive athlete in high school and have played sports throughout my life! Low on Controlling? I’ve been in leadership positions throughout my life – of course I get energy from it! Mid-low on Enduring? I’ve achieved a bunch in my life – of course I have will power! Jim assured me that IDI was extremely accurate and that I should try to accept my drivers rather than disagreeing with them or trying to change them, but I wasn’t convinced.
I concluded my session with Jim thinking, well, this IDI stuff is ok, but it didn’t really capture me accurately. Still, I was eager to jump into my job as the new Education Manager for MRG. This was a new role for MRG where I was to organize and standardize the training process and administration, create new materials, and support the practitioner subject matter experts in their delivery of certification. I was to potentially implement a learning management system, and also organize, support, and manage those higher than me on the totem pole.
As one might expect from someone with a motivational profile like mine, it was a less than stellar experience. I spent a lot of time creating new materials, but lacked the Controlling and Enduring energy to get others to use them. Being low in Controlling, I was very uncomfortable telling those above me what to do, and my low Winning influenced me to give up too easily on objectives I wanted to push through. My mid-high Structuring helped with the organization, but again, low Controlling/Enduring made it difficult for me to get others to get on board with the new processes and procedures and to badger after them to stick with it. I felt like I was drowning in drudgery.
I was in the background, creating materials, implementing processes, but my extremely high Gaining Stature and Entertaining drivers were starving. I was not happy, and I was not performing well. My manager was coaching me to develop my Management Focus, Strategic, and Control LEA behaviors, to take a harder line and become more of a traditional leader, but I wanted to be out front, representing MRG and interacting with clients. I wanted to be DELIVERING the awesome resources and materials I was creating for certification. I wanted to feel like I was part of a larger team (Belonging) and didn’t have to be the bad guy telling others what they “had” to do. My mid-high Giving and Receiving made me want a connection with the people I worked with where there was a true reciprocal relationship and a mutual respect and affection. It seemed that the IDI actually had captured me accurately, and the proof was in my lack of success in my role.
Up next: Christine’s career continues at MRG – with a new twist. See how Christine used the IDI’s insights to choose a path that energized her in part two of her story.