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updated: 6/30/2014 5:03 AM

Learning, leveraging differences can build stronger team

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I'm generally skeptical of those HR-related tests that purport to provide takers with insights about themselves, though I did learn a few things from the Myers-Briggs personality indicator test I once took.

Myers-Briggs, the DISC personal assessment program and the BOSI Entrepreneurial DNA assessment tools have their backers. Yet a new entry in the genre, Entrepreneurial Dimensions Profile (EDP), is intriguing because it offers a way for business owners to make assessments that will allow them to structure their companies for maximum performance.

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Introduced 15 months ago by the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida, and available locally through the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Elgin Community College, the EDP "recognizes that the differences between people can be a tremendous asset -- or get in the way," says Jennifer Hall, director of coaching and feedback at the Institute.

The distinction, Hall says, "depends on (the entrepreneur's) ability to recognize and leverage differences" into an effective team.

Taken online but assessed in personal conversations with either Hall or Sybil Ege, SBDC director at ECC, the EDP gauges individual strengths and weaknesses in both personality and skills. In a team setting -- a management group or the next generation taking control of a family business, for example -- "understanding the strengths and weaknesses of group members can be very useful," Ege says.

Benjie Hughes would agree. CEO at Backthird Audio Inc., an Aurora recording studio-professional musician management business, his senior team numbers two -- Hughes included.

There are three in the office, but two carry the bulk of the responsibility, Hughes says. He and Anna Hammond, Backthird Audio's managing director, took the EDP assessment to determine how to identify and take advantage of their different abilities.

So far, so good. The EDP assessment is helping the two recognize and build on each other's strengths.

EDP "gave the two of us a common language," Hammond says. "He's a vision and ideas guy. I focus on the small picture.

"My long-term planning is October. Benjie's is 2018."

"We looked at our internal operations, how we get things done in the office," Hughes says. "I generate ideas. Anna takes those ideas and connects them. "

As a result of the EDP assessment, "We're revamping our project process," Hughes says. "We have a freer sense of our roles. We're figuring things out."

Among the things Hughes has learned is that "I need to leverage people who are better at execution. (That would be Hammond, mostly.) And I have to learn to be more patient."

The process and analysis "has enabled me to look ahead and not feel overwhelmed," Hammond explains. "Now I play to my strengths (and) we're a lot more focused" as a two-person team.

Hammond's strengths include sometimes slowing Hughes down. "I wasn't giving pushback," she says. Now, however, Hammond will push back when necessary and Hughes understands -- a tangible result of the EDP process.

• 2014 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter, and at Kendall Communications on Facebook. Write him at Jim@kendallcom.com.

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