YOUR LEADERSHIP GRIP enhanced BIRKMAN EVALUATION:
Gary Fujino – September, 2004
Dr. Paul Ford has asked me to give a personal evaluation and “testimonial” on my experience with Your Leadership Grip and the Birkman Method profile. I share in these three ways:
first, an introduction of myself including my background with these types of assessments, second, on a more technical level, evaluating some of the particular qualities of Your
and the Birkman Method profile and finally, my own opinion and testimony Leadership Grip
of how they have affected me on a personal and ministry level.
I. BACKGROUND: I am a church planter in heart but a trainer by nature. Presently, I am working on a PhD in Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the Chicago area. In the course of my ministry experience, I have taken a number of personality assessments including the MBTI, MMPI and others for personal development and growth. In my current doctoral research studies, I am actually using a similar type of survey instrument for evaluating how the theology and practice of forgiveness may or may not be affected by a cross-cultural context. All this to say that I have a basis for knowledge of the workings of these types of assessment profiles.
II. EVALUATION: What impressed me the most about Your Leadership Grip and the
Birkman Method profile was the depth and applicability of these instruments to a wide range of people and ministries. On our team alone, personalities as diverse as B.W., R. C. and myself, were greatly impressed and helped by Paul Ford‟s seminar in Thailand on Your
. Dr. Ford has asked me to provide feedback on the value of the Leadership Grip (YLG)
three areas below (YLG; Base & Mid-Level Birkman) and how each has impacted me. I will
try to be succinct with each.
Your Leadership Grip workbook
Spiritual Gifts - equipping, supporting, or combination. One of the key insights here was
understanding that gifting does not have as much to do with what we‟re “good at” as much as it does being the place “where God works powerfully through us.” Ford notes that because there is a direct relationship between the leader, the team and the church understanding how we “fit” in terms of equipping, supporting or a combination of giftings is essential.
Team Styles - specific top 2 styles, plus are you powerful upfront or alongside?
It was revelatory for me to hear that 80% of the thousands with whom Paul has worked with are better as alongside leaders than those up front. He said several times in the seminar, “it‟s not so much about teambuilding as much as it is about releasing the body of Christ” to more powerfully do ministry in their contexts. This was encouraging for me to
hear knowing that Dr. Ford has worked with so many teams and seen so many leadership styles. I felt that I was hearing something that was both very relevant to my situation and also coming from a seasoned perspective.
Primary Functions of Leadership - specific top 2 or 3 functions, & who do you need?
The genius of this part of YLG was not so much how it spoke to me personally but rather how the members of our Training and Mobilization team (TMT) attending were able to see each other‟s strengths and weaknesses and how they fit together both individually and for us as a team. In ranking my own leadership style and then placing it alongside teammates B‟s and R‟s similar assessments, we were able as a team to see how we could best function together under the new structure. This has already surfaced since we returned from Thailand where B.W.‟s primary gifting in vision has also been the source of his leading the TMT to meetings together and with other leaders in Japan. On a practical level, what we learned through YLG has really helped the TMT in Japan get off the ground this year.
One strength of YLG versus other spiritual gift assessments is that Paul separates spiritual gifting from personality. This is a key component of YLG. Too often, these kind of inventories tell one that because of the way you are in character/personality then you are automatically also gifted in that area. I have not always found that to be true, speaking both scripturally and from my own experience. Ford‟s YLG properly delineates and separates these two areas.
Another strength is that he also plays up the liabilities of being gifted/strong in a certain area, something that is often overlooked in these kind of assessments. In other words, the focus is on both the positive and negative aspects of gifting and not the positive only, as is true with most similar surveys. I see this as a strength of YLG. Ford says, “gifts do not have liabilities but the people who use them do.” This is a much needed caveat in the exercise and assessment of gifting for ministry.
The Base Level Birkman - the Birkman Foursome
Life Style Grid. The beauty of these four squares is the simplicity and visually graphic manner in which one can quickly view that which is specific to oneself in terms of interests, style, needs, and how we function under stress. It is a simple one glance “map” which shows
the depth and breadth of these aspects of life and how they function interdependently.
These areas are shown by colors and by symbols. Without going into too much detail, let me explain one part of the grid that was particularly helpful. There are four symbols, an asterisk, a diamond, a circle and a square. The asterisk portrays your interests or goals, and
the diamond shows your usual or effeictive style that you commonly use. The circle represents your underlying need and the square your stress responses
In looking over my Birkman results, it was fascinating to discover that the circle and the square are always together (inside of each other) regardless of where one falls in the grid. This result is true with anyone who takes the Birkman Method. What this means is that the
key stresses of one‟s life are activated because of an unmet/unrecognized need that has surfaced. When stressed, we act out based on the need. Thus, not dealing with the need creates stress while, on the other hand, dealing with the need alleviates stress.
To put it another way, these are opposite points of the same scale with stress on the one extreme and need on the other. “We are most effective when our underlying needs are met” is the way Paul framed it for me. When needs are properly recognized and handled then the stress disappears. But the two are like twins; they never function apart from one another For me personally, this was extremely helpful to locate in my own life and ministry.
Foundational Colors (includes whole Career Management Report) This part was helpful
because it deals specifically with how one approaches work or ministry situations. They surface strengths and weaknesses in terms of how we “perform” at our jobs and show how we work toward goals and solve problems.
Areas of Interest. This area surfaced something that I was aware of already but seeing it on paper and depicted graphically was a good insight. What the areas of interest section does is show you what areas of work and life you want to spend a lot of time in or are “good
at.” These are framed in terms of various types of work assignments in the secular marketplace but give a solid point of reference as one applies them to job descriptions in the realm of ministry.
Intellectual Styles. This area surfaces patterns of doing and thinking and shows
preferences in depth and practice of work/ministry from the realm of global/linear thinking; conceptual/concrete thought and tendencies toward either public contact or the procedural/detailed aspects of work.
I have not seen other personality assessments in my experience that specifically dealt with people‟s intellectual styles in relation to work interests like the Birkman does. For that reason, this part of it was very helpful for me because I had never had it measured before.
I was most blessed by the Lifestyle Grid, Areas of Interest and Intellectual Styles parts
of the Birkman Foursome because of how I am wired as a person. But I think others will
find the referencing of one‟s work style to the Foundational Colors to be helpful in
comparing oneself to how one might perform in the secular workplace.
Feedback on Combination of the Two Profiles
Speaking only for myself, I don‟t think that the combination of Your Leadership Grip and
the Birkman Foursome goes far enough. It is my opinion that one would need to combine the Birkman Mid-Level below with YLG in order to get a proper and more accurate assessment
of one‟s personality and ministry fit. Paul did not ask me to say this nor did he even suggest
it. This is my own opinion having gone through all of the above (and below!) since they are included as a part of the process through which Paul and I have gone.
Birkman Mid-Level – Four narrative reports focused on the Birkman Components
It is these reports which have given me a real picture of who I am and how I can best function in ministry in the context in which I am serving. As I have said already, the Basic is all right but these mid-level reports are the “meat” of the Birkman in my opinion. The Basic
only gives visuals with some brief detailing. But it has been in reading the reports of the mid-level Birkman and then being able to assess what they say against what I already know about myself where change has begun to take place in my life and ministry. It is my suggestion that if a combination of the Birkman and YLG are being considered then it should be with the mid-level Birkman and YLG as a set.
Needs at a Glance. This report paints a verbal picture of how one relates to people individually and in groups, how one works on a team, the ability to deal with change and how one responds to authority among other things (there are 11 categories total). One thing about the style of the report itself is that the wording in the responses are very specific and crafted to fit the person being evaluated. I found what was said about me, based upon my responses to the Birkman inventory, to be extremely accurate and factual of my work style, life situation and personality.
THESE NEXT 3 CATEGORIES WERE THE MOST PRACTICAL PART OF THE WHOLE
BIRKMAN MID-LEVEL PROCESS:
Strengths and Needs report. This report is critical in that it covers the causes of stress and how needs can be met in order to do ministry better. A verbal(text) assessment is given of strengths and needs, as well as of causes of stress. Helpfully, personal strengths and possible stress reactions are itemized and listed in columns for quick and easy reference. Categories covered in this one report include evaluation of strengths and needs in relation to esteem, acceptance, structure, authority, attitudes, activity patterns, challenge, empathy, change, freedom, and thought.
Guide Pages. This report assesses the behavioral aspect of our needs and stresses. It surfaces one‟s usual behavior, underlying needs and stress behavior in relation to areas such as getting along with others, giving/accepting direction, handling conflict/competition, emotional/physical stamina, organizing and planning, problem solving and decision-making. This part of the Birkman relates back to the Lifestyle Grid and shows with accurate and detailed description why we act the way we do when needs are unmet or when we are under stress.
Stress Pages. The stress reports were worth the cost of the entire Birkman to me because not only do these pages identify stressors related to the categories above but they tell you, according to who you are, how to deal with these problem areas. The Basic Birkman does not cover this in detail. Since stress is a major issue on the mission field, I think that this part of the Mid-level Birkman is especially germane to our context.
In terms of practical suggestions and concrete application, this part of the Birkman shows one‟s scores in the area of, say, acceptance and then says, “based upon these scores, it is likely that you need…” and then it gives 5-10 practical suggestions on how to meet these
needs. In dealing with stress, the Birkman also says in this part, “in order to build resistance to or avoid stress in this area, we recommend that you…” and concrete
applications of what has been learned is suggested according to who we are.
These insights were “gold” to me not only because of their accuracy in assessment but also because of the concrete, fitting applications that were suggested based on who I am as a person. I am attempting to put these into practice in life and ministry and have already seen a change in myself and a lowering of stress in some areas.
With the Birkman Foursome and Mid-Level, I have seen a depth and intricacy of evaluation
that I have not seen in many other instruments. Paul tells me that the Birkman Method
covers 11 to 22 aspects of personality versus the 4 to 8 covered by the MBTI, for example. What this allows for is a richer and more accurate measure of one as a human being who is created in the image of God. The Birkman Method goes deeper then many other such assessments. I have already pointed to this above but, needless to say, speaking both technically and practically the Birkman Mid-Level is a superior instrument to most anything I know of on the market today because of the complex and in-depth manner in which it examines points of stress and need in a personality and how to deal with and resolve these issues. This very practical and helpful applicational part of the Birkman Method brings its
value into “real life.”
Feedback on the whole process
III. TESTIMONIAL/PERSONAL REFLECTIONS. On the level of personal
testimony, Your Leadership Grip and the Birkman Method have literally impacted my life in
an indelible manner. This summer, thanks to our board, I was able to partake of the Your
seminar in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Having met Paul and having heard about Leadership Grip
the Birkman Method previously I set up an appointment with him when we were in Thailand to discuss the possibility of taking it myself. After talking with Paul in-depth, I felt led to try out the Grip/Birkman on my own. So, we set up a plan to do the Priority Level (advanced) profile at my own expense and on my own time. First, I took the test via the internet. The results were sent to me in PDF format and then we began the consultation process. Recently, we completed the second of three telephone evaluation times together. Financially, doing this has been a great sacrifice for me/our family. But the process has been well worth the money spent with innumerable spiritual returns already. I look at it as an exercise of good stewardship concerning who God is making me into and as a long term spiritual investment for life and ministry!
To put this all metaphorically, YLG and the Birkman Method have allowed me to “take the
red pill” and escape the Matrix! By this I mean that in understanding better my spiritual gifting through YLG and then looking deeply into who I am with the Birkman Method, I have
felt a sense of release and empowerment to do even better in the work to which I have been called. Why? Because I can see “outside the box” now and realize that I can faithfully do the work I am called to without denying who I am. That‟s what I mean by the „red pill‟ and stepping outside the „Matrix.‟ To say it another way, in understanding better who I am through these two assessments, I have been able to do my job better because I know better how to do it through the in-depth personal discovery of who I am in Christ through these instruments.
Thank you for your time and attention in reading this.
Sincerely, yours in Christ,