How to Measure Mastery

May 21, 2020 Evan Theys

How do we approach the acquisition of new skills, seeking out development opportunities and perfecting what we do?  Importantly, how can we understand what others do?

personality characteristic

How do we approach the acquisition of new skills, seeking out development opportunities and perfecting what we do? For some, this focus on, and interest in, improving what we do drives us to expand our skill set – and help others to do the same. For others, there is a comfort in our own current knowledge and a focus on simply getting the job at hand completed, with no desire to seek out new opportunities for growth.

When the organization needs to transform and adapt, new skills and behaviors need to be learned but equally there is a value in applying what is already known and not looking for the next ‘thing’ to learn.

Mastery is one of the personality areas measured in our ADEPT-15® questionnaire. Along with the dimensions of Flexibility and Conceptual, Mastery forms the Adaptation Style of ADEPT-15 which explores how an individual might approach their own development and their support of others’ development.

How is Mastery Seen in Behavior?

Mastery is can be seen in how individuals seek out new and challenging opportunities, or their comfort in operating within their current skillset. Below are some of the leverage points and some of the things to watch out for.

The Leverage Points

Those scoring high on the ADEPT-15 Mastery scale are likely to be:

  • Confident in their ability to learn and improve, seeking out challenging development opportunities.
  • Of the belief that anyone can improve with practice.
  • Interested in helping others learn.

Those scoring low tend to be:

  • Focused on getting things done.
  • Comfortable with their current knowledge and skill level.


The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high scorers on Mastery:

  • Inefficient focus on developing new skills rather than leveraging existing skills.
  • Overestimating their own potential or the potential of others.  

For the low scorers on Mastery, watch out for:

  • Little interest in learning and tends not to seek out challenging developmental opportunities.
  • A belief that people should do what they are good at and not try to get better at things they are not.
  • Little interest in helping others to develop.


The Role of Mastery in the Workplace

A score on the Mastery dimension will suggest the interest and approach to development and learning new skills and behaviors. It impacts other workplace behaviors too.

Develops Oneself

Individuals with high Mastery scores focus on learning, practice, and self-improvement. They maintain a strong desire, and devote considerable resources, to continuously developing themselves.

Maintains Industry Awareness

Those high on Mastery are much more concerned with professional growth and development than their peers. This indicates that they will be much more included to develop their expertise and broaden their knowledge base to maintain a competitive edge in their industry or market.

Coaches for Performance

Since high scorers are interested in helping others learn, they are more inclined to provide ongoing coaching and challenge others to develop and/or achieve their full potential.


Compensating for an Individual’s Mastery Score

As we can see with the leverage points and watch-outs listed above, Mastery influences how an individual will view their own development and that of others. It suggests how they may seek out development opportunities and look to acquire new skills.

By understanding how a score on the Mastery dimension is influenced by scores on other ADEPT-15 dimensions, we can understand how Mastery can be tempered.

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

  • Higher Ambition and Awareness can help mitigate a lack of interest in learning and development opportunities.

When an individual scores high on the Mastery dimension, we may like to look for:

  • Lower Positivity scores. Generally, high scores are good; however, extremely high scores may indicate an overconfidence in one’s ability to improve. Thus, lower Positivity scores can help provide a more realistic sense of self.


For more about assessing mastery 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

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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