How to Measure Ambition

September 26, 2019 Evan Theys

Ambition and action make a powerful combination with the ability to take our achievements sky high. But how can we measure how ambitious a person is? 


how to measure ambition

Ambitious people tend to be regarded as great workers due to their desire to succeed and goal-oriented nature. When coupled with action, ambition can take one’s achievements sky high. But what about the downside of ambition? Can a person be too ambitious? How is this reflected in their work and interactions with team members?

Ambition, together with Power, forms the Achievement Style of the ADEPT-15® personality model. Achievement is one of the Performance Styles that looks at internal motivations and how individuals expend their effort.

How is Ambition Seen in Behavior?

Ambition measures the extent to which a person is work goal-oriented and focused on career progression. A score in either direction on the Ambition dimension has both potential positives – and potential watch-outs. Take a look at some of the points to leverage as well as some of the areas to watch out for.

The Leverage Points

Those scoring high on the Ambition scale are likely to:

  • Have very high career aspirations.
  • Be determined to be the best.
  • Hold self, and others, to very high standards.

Those scoring low tend to:

  • Be more interested in personal than career goals.
  • Prefer achievable rather than challenging goals.

The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high-scorers on Ambition:

  • Focus may be on individual rather than team goals.
  • Can be ruthless in goal pursuit.

For the low-scorers on Ambition, watch out for:

  • Interested more in enjoying work and doing a good job, than being promoted.
  • Less proactivity in managing career or work goals.

The Role of Ambition in the Workplace

We can gain a real insight into how a person is likely to approach work goals as well as individual career ambitions. A person’s ambition will also influence behavior in other areas of work.

Developing Business Opportunities

Those high on Ambition may be much more goal- and achievement-oriented than their peers. This suggests that they will likely be quick to identify and close business opportunities. However, they must be careful not to engage in more opportunities than they can reasonably manage at a given time.

Maintaining Industry Awareness

Individuals that score highly on Ambition are keenly focused on career progression and being the best. Given this, they’re likely to be more motivated than others to maintain a competitive awareness of their market or industry to facilitate career advancement and excelling in their roles.

Setting High Standards

Because individuals that score highly on Ambition are focused on being the best at what they do, they are very likely to have high quality standards and will set as well as maintain lofty goals for themselves and others.

Compensating for an Individual’s Ambition Score

We have looked at how Ambition as a single construct is portrayed in behavior at work and how there are both positives and negatives in this behavior. Now let us consider how scores on other ADEPT-15 dimensions can compensate for the Ambition score and shape how it is behaviorally displayed.

When Ambition scores are low, we need to look at other scales:

  • Higher Drive scores. The Drive score reflects the extent to which someone is hard working, persistent in accomplishing difficult tasks, and focused on getting things done. These internal motivations can help ensure folks have the necessary internal motivation to succeed at work and accomplish work-related goals.

When an individual has a high score on the Ambition dimension, you may like to look elsewhere in the profile for:

For more about assessing ambition in your candidates and employees, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®

 

About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.

 

*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award

 

essentials of talent assessment

About the Author

Evan Theys

Evan serves as the leader for Aon's Assessment Solutions Product Development team in North America. In this role, he manages and supports the development of innovative, forward-thinking assessment solutions, and partners with leaders across Aon to develop the strategy for the global products portfolio as well as bringing new products to market.

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