A phrase that you hear often when talking about people learning to be leaders is “They don’t know what they don’t know”. It sounds a bit sarcastic (and is often meant to be taken that way by people who should know better) but actually is a very accurate way to describe somebody setting out to learn or do something new. How can you know everything that you should understand about your new role or profession? That’s why we have training and development programmes, coaching and mentoring and well structured CPD.
In a coaching environment, addressing this issue can often be a core part of the intervention. In particular, we are usually keen to help the client develop a good level of self awareness. This is critical for a successful personal development programme because if you don’t know your own strengths and weaknesses and how you appear to others then you may well be working on changing the wrong things.
This is the reason that many coaches use Personality Profiling tools. These are a fantastic way to help our clients understand themselves and the way they are likely to interact with others.
What are Personality Profiles?
The dictionary definition of a Personality Profile is
“A description of the (likely) psychological, intellectual, and behavioural characteristics of a (certain type of) person.”
Typically, these tools are administered online. The user completes an online questionnaire, completely confidentially, which usually takes about 20-25 minutes for each instrument. The system forwards the reports to the coach who reviews the results and prepares for the feedback session with the client. The reports highlight the client’s likely preferences e.g. working alone compared with working in a team or looking at the big picture instead of at the detail. It also identifies the client’s likely behaviours in different situations and any potential blind spots that they may have.
How do we use them?
In one to one coaching we use Personality Profiles as another mirror to help our client see themselves as others do - to help start the process of self awareness that we mentioned earlier. A good coach should be constantly helping their client understand and reflect upon their own characteristics and behaviours as a preamble to identifying where and how to take action.
In team coaching we can use the results of all the individuals to make up a composite picture of the profile of the group. This can give valuable insights into strengths and weaknesses of the team as a whole - highlighting blinds spots and areas where the team may need help to be truly effective. An example of this could be a team that were predominately practical and hands on. They might be less able to see the big picture and to come up with creative and innovative ideas. Understanding and recognising this could open them up to finding help - either external support or additions to the team that would address this issue.
What are they not?
These are not ability tests such as are used in some job application processes, for example testing verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. These psychometric tests can be helpful in some applications (e.g. a technical or design role) but are less useful when looking at more complex issues such as leadership capability. When looking at leadership development, we are interested in potential not just current capability.
In no way should they be a substitute for good practice. It is essential that they are used ethically and full feedback is given to each participant - not just “here’s your report, off you go”.
It is also important to realise that we are not robots and the tools are not some form of predetermination. They identify our preferences - the ways in which we will tend to behave and should be used as guidance. They are not an infallible prediction on how we will behave in every circumstance.
Which ones do we use?
We use the Hogan Leadership Forecast Series in our coaching and development support. *Check out our special offer!
The Series consists of three distinct reports which, combined, form a complete and powerful Personality Profile for an individual.
These assessments are:
- The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) describes normal, or bright-side personality – qualities that describe how we relate to others when we are at our best. Whether we are looking to find the right people or develop stronger leaders, assessing normal personality gives valuable insight into how people work, how they lead, and how successful they will be.
- The Hogan Development Survey (HDS) describes the dark side of personality – qualities that emerge in times of increased strain and can disrupt relationships, damage reputations, and derail peoples’ chances of success. By assessing dark-side personality, you can recognise and mitigate performance risks before they become a problem.
- The Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI) describes personality from the inside – the core goals, values, drivers, and interests that determine what we desire and strive to attain. By assessing values, you can understand what motivates people to succeed, and in what type of position, job, and environment they will be the most productive.
Would you like to explore the use of personality profiling in more depth? This is a fantastic opportunity to complete the questionnaires for the complete Hogan Leadership Forecast inventory and to receive a full one-to-one feedback session. If you would like to have a go and see what you can learn about yourself and explore how it could help your team, simply drop us an email or call us on +44 (0)1302 746430.
Why not give it a go? See for yourself what value these tools can provide - Simply get in touch and we’ll do the rest. You’ll be fascinated by the extra insights you will gain into your own personality and the skills and qualities of your team. Good luck!
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Written by Steve Hinton
Steve Hinton is an experienced Executive Coach and Consultant working with Chief Executives, Managing Directors, Senior Executives and other leaders and can work with you to create exceptional and successful leadership teams.
Contact Steve for an informal chat, and take the first step toward your team's super success!