Self-knowledge is an essential part of a leader’s development. Although the military offers some tools, they are limited. Here, we offer our recommendations for how to actually do self-development.

Self-development starts by increasing your self-awareness through assessments that can show you how you think, act, and lead. With this knowledge, you can then learn new skills to fill gaps and refine your strengths. Get started today.


  • Big 5 Personality Assessment

    It’s incredibly difficult to define what makes a good leader. Leaders can be solitary individuals at the head of international movements or they can be team captains, coaches, and admirals. The Big Five personality traits, also known as the five factor model (FFM), is a widely examined theory of five broad dimensions used by some psychologists to describe the human personality and psyche and unlike many other assessments, these five traits correlate to leadership.

    The five factors have been defined as

    • Openness to experience
    • Conscientiousness
    • Extraversion
    • Agreeableness
    • Neuroticism

    Beneath each proposed global factor, a number of correlated and more specific primary factors are claimed. For example, extraversion is said to include such related qualities as gregariousness, assertiveness, excitement seeking, warmth, activity, and positive emotions. Studies have shown correlation between leadership success and openness, conscientiousness, and (decreased) neuroticism. Surprisingly, extraversion is best when balanced ie. warm and confident, but not excessively so.

    Take the free assessment here.


  • Conflict Resolution Styles Assessment

    Do you know someone who is always confrontational and never compromises? Do you avoid confrontation altogether just to keep things moving? Are you trying to get your team to be more collaborative?

    All of those questions address how we resolve conflicts and many people have a default method. There’s a saying that when you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. As military professionals, we can and should be better than that.

    The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode tool is the world’s best-selling tool for helping people understand how different conflict-handling styles affect interpersonal and group dynamics—and for empowering them to choose the appropriate style for any situation. Having 5 tools at your disposal is better than just a single preferred method.

    The TKI tool assesses an individual’s typical behavior in conflict situations and describes it along two dimensions: assertiveness and cooperativeness. It provides detailed information about how that individual can effectively use five different conflict-handling modes, or styles.

    How It Helps

    • Conflict management—to identify different conflict-handling styles and to learn how to choose the appropriate style for any situation
    • Team building—improves team functioning by helping members reconcile differences and work together more effectively
    • Leadership development—enhances leaders’ conflict management skills
    • Performance improvement—helps eliminate barriers to effective performance
    • Stress reduction—gives employees the capacity and tools to identify and manage workplace stress
    • Retention—helps employees be successful, improve morale, and stay engaged in order to build a stronger organization and retain the best talent

    Take the free assessment here.

  • DISC

    DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits, which today are called: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. It is important to understand that DISC is not a personality assessment, but rather an assessment of behavior in given circumstances; for example, most people would say they do not behave the same at home and at work – but they are the same single personality.

    The DiSC model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others. This can be within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships

    DiSC profiles help you and your team:

    • Increase your self-knowledge: how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress and how you solve problems
    • Facilitate better teamwork and minimize team conflict
    • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
    • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members
    • Become more self-knowledgeable, well-rounded and effective leaders

    Take the free assessment here.

  • FIRO-B

    The Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation–Behavior™ (FIRO-B®) suite of assessment products helps people understand their interpersonal needs (grouped into three categories—Inclusion, Control, and Affection) and how those needs influence their communication, problem-solving, and decision-making styles as well as other aspects of their behavior. For more than 50 years, the FIRO-B tool has provided in-depth descriptions of how people behave, how they affect and are affected by others, and how they can be more effective.

    As a result, the assessment has become a valuable tool for increasing organizational performance. It reveals how interpersonal needs drive people’s behavior and can shape people’s ability to build trust, influence others, and create productive relationships.

    The 54-item FIRO-B assessment measures interpersonal needs on three scales: Inclusion, Control, and Affection. It is of particular value because it:

    • Reveals how interpersonal needs drive people’s behavior
    • Shapes people’s ability to build trust, influence others, and create productive relationships
    • Facilitates the formation and re-engagement of teams
    • Highlights perceptual gaps that may inadvertently derail relationships

    Take the assessment here.

  • Give and Take

    About the book and the assessment: “For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

    Give and Take highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. This landmark book opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.” – From

    In a nutshell, people can be described as Givers, Matchers, and Takers. Takers are greedy and self-interested. They win in the short-term, but lose long-term. In the military, takers are “toxic leaders”. Meanwhile, Matchers are fair and judicious. Matchers don’t get burned by Takers, but they aren’t as generous as Givers either. On the other hand, Givers are generous of themselves, their time, and money. Some Givers are taken advantage of, but the most successful people are Givers who are what Adam Grant calls “Otherish Givers”. It’s easier to say no to a request when you see that you can be even more helpful in another way.

    People can become more like Givers. It’s not set in stone. This is one of the many assessments that will help you find strengths and weaknesses that you can enhance or repair.

    Take the free assessment here.


  • Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator

    The modern military is an exceptional bureaucracy without rival. We need order and regulation to ensure that we’ll be resilient when we take massive casualties, but bureaucracy stifles innovation which is the main driver of military success. “Innovation”, in essence, is just a single word that encapsulates much of John Boyd’s O-O-D-A loop.

    “Today, it is increasingly important that organizations maximize the effectiveness of their human assets to achieve the greatest possible output. The Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator® (ISPI™) will allow you to see the invisible dynamics of your people, team, and organization to realize your true innovative potential.

    The ISPI™ highlights 12 orientations that compose an individual’s predispositions for a certain type of innovation. It makes visible the way an individual prefers to solve problems and what impacts their motivation, passion and decision-making. The ISPI™ also shows how one prefers to work with others and deal with control. These orientations impact innovation results.”

    Take the assessment here.

    Principles of Innovation

  • Harvard Implicit Association Test

    “People don’t always say what’s on their minds. One reason is that they are unwilling. For example, someone might report smoking a pack of cigarettes per day because they are embarrassed to admit that they smoke two. Another reason is that they are unable. A smoker might truly believe that she smokes a pack a day, or might not keep track at all. The difference between being unwilling and unable is the difference between purposely hiding something from someone and unknowingly hiding something from yourself.”

    As military leaders, we cannot let biases cloud our judgment – careers and lives depend upon us being fair and impartial. Recognizing and exploring our own biases is the only way for us to become more fair.

    “The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about. For example, you may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science.

    Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet.”

    Take the free assessments here.

  • Myers-Briggs Type Inventory

    The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. It is based on the theory proposed by Carl Jung who had speculated that there are four principal psychological functions by which humans experience the world – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time.

    Most military officers take this assessment during their O-4 level PME course to increase their self-awareness and understanding of the leaders around them. It’s important to note that there has been no significant correlation shown between personality type and leadership efficacy in the general population although the military has a disproportionate amount of extroverts. Knowing your profile helps you do more of the things that you do well.

    Take the free assessment here.


  • Strengths Finder

    We’ve all heard the expression “Play to your strengths” and even Sun-Tzu would agree with the sentiment. Unfortunately, the military doesn’t actually do a good job of telling you what your strengths are unless you think that some vague check boxes on your evaluation meet that criteria.

    Enter StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Gallup. “All people have a unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills — strengths — that they use in their daily lives to do their work, achieve their goals, and interact with others. Gallup has found that when people understand and apply their strengths, the effect on their lives and work is transformational. People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and three times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life.”

    This assessment is particularly informative when thinking about your career. Wouldn’t you want to serve in the branch or specialty that is most engaging and offers you the highest chance of success?

    Take the assessment here.

  • Learning Styles Indicator

    A particular learning preference may make certain careers and interests seem attractive, so people for whom that preference is strong or moderate may gravitate toward those careers and interests in greater numbers than people with the opposite preference. When you are comparing your preferences to those around you, remember that yours may be significantly different than those with other similar characteristics.  For example, a high percentage of visual learners is probably similar to what it would be in most fields, but a much lower average percentage of visual learners would probably be found among students attracted to verbal-dominant fields such as languages and literature.  Also, fields that are highly abstract (such as philosophy and theoretical mathematics and physics) are likely to have higher average percentages of intuitive learners than the value shown in the figure.  Remember too that preferences are not reliable indicators of strengths and weaknesses.  Someone with a preference for intuition, for example, might be strong in intuitive skills and weak in sensing, or highly skilled at both intuitive and sensing, or weak at both.  Learning styles preferences should therefore never be used as a basis for choosing a major field of study or career.  People with every set of preferences have succeeded brilliantly in every profession.

    Take an assessment here.

Developmental Resources

Military Mentors is dedicated to connecting military professionals to each other and to the resources that they need for development. Here are some of the world’s best resources that can help you get started on your transformational journey.

  • Center for Creative Leadership

    Leadership development is ALL that CCL does. For more than four decades CCL has leveraged the power of leadership to transform individuals, teams, entire organizations and societies to achieve what matters most to them.

    Their innovative solutions are steeped in extensive research and experience gained from working with tens of thousands of organizations and more than a million leaders at all levels — across six continents and more than 130 countries. CCL draws from a world of experience across cultures, industries and disciplines, helping you with your real world challenges, and measuring the impact of our work.

    Financial Times

    Ranked among the world’s Top 10 providers of executive education by Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Financial Times, you can be confident we will deliver the results that matter most to you.

    What matters most to CCL?

    • How individuals better themselves and lead others.
    • How interdependent teams collaborate to realize organizational goals and build sustainable performance cultures.
    • How communities thrive, enable lives and advance futures.

    Center for Creative Leadership Blog

    CCL White Papers

  • Harvard Business Review

    Military leadership is a unique challenge, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a lot from our civilian peers or vice versa (Why the Military Produces Great Leaders). Harvard Business Review is the leading scholarly resource on the topic of management, innovation, and leadership.

    Harvard Business Review

  • MIT Sloan Management Review
    MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalize on the opportunities generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

    MIT Sloan Management Review

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