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Psychometrics and Personality

News views and events from Leadenhall

Psychometrics and Personality


My first experience with psychometrics (Saville and Holdsworth) was literally in the last millennium.  Over the years change has been continuous and most recently very swift, with the development of new tools, tech platforms and new cutting edge instruments  This article focuses on the particular use of personality profiles by Leadenhall and is not a review of the market or a technical evaluation of reliability or validity.

An esteemed colleague in the industry pointed out to me:

Too much emphasis is put on specific instruments (there 1000’s of personality profiling instruments and everyone has their favourite) but the important question is what are you using them for?

When was the last time you spoke to a builder and asked what digger he was using? You assume he knows what he is doing and has chosen the appropriate tools to do the job.  Ultimately, you will judge his/her success on how well he/she builds the extension you asked for not on whether he used a JCB or Komatsu.



For Coaching work we often use the Hogan Personality Suite.  Most of our coaches are Hogan qualified. It explores:

  • Motives and Values (what drives people)
  • Potential (the bright side)
  • The Challenge (the dark side or risk factors).

We find the instrument is often very helpful for the coachee to gain insight into their own personality characteristics and preferences early in the coaching process.  It provides a good starting point for rich and thoughtful coaching conversations early in the coaching process between the coach and coachee around behaviour, motivation and development.

We have also used Hogan for our Team Coaching work and found the insights invaluable for ourselves as coaches but more importantly for the members of the team.  We do use Hogan as an aid for recruitment but never as a decision maker or short-listing tool. It helps candidates and the hiring companies understand each other better as part of the recruiting conversations and interviews.  A good match benefits and a understanding helps both parties in the long run.


Typology Questionnaires

We also use ‘typology’ based personality questionnaires.  These take the information that you provide and place you within a ‘type’ based on your preferences.  Probably the most widely used and well know is the MBTI where you are assigned to a classification using the letters – ENTJ, ISNP etc.   Overall, typology-based personality profiles are very good for understanding personality preferences quickly, simply and linking those insights into understanding others.  This makes them great for teamwork, management, sales and leadership.  They are also very good for improved communication between people and helping people think more about other people’s perspectives and the reasons for their behaviour.

A word of warning, these profiles should not be used for recruitment assessment or used to stereotype people’s capabilities or stereotype them. We use three of these depending on the client and the type of work that we are undertaking.


Insights Discovery and DiSC (Wiley)

We use Insights Discovery and DiSC (Wiley) for work with individuals and teams where we would like to give insight into their, and others, preferences.  Both instruments have similarities in their origins and identify four main personality types, subdivided into 12 styles (3 for each type).  The four main types are broadly simplified as extrovert/rational, extrovert/feeling, introvert/feeling and introvert/analytical.

Insights Discovery is well known for its use of colours ‘Fiery Red/Sunshine Yellow/Cool Blue and Earth Green’.  We do find that this link to colour does lead to a common language and easy retention of the basic concepts underlying the typologies used.

DiSC has developed a very useable online platform called Catalyst.  This provides material and videos which are very helpful to those who have undertaken the profiles.  We particularly like the different types of reports – workstyle, to manager, leader and sales reports which are very helpful for personal and professional development – and coaching, of course.One of the problems is that whilst there is a good gender balance at lower and mid-levels, women are opting out as they become more senior and further on in their careers, resulting in a shrinking talent pool further up. This exacerbates the problem as there are not enough role models in senior leadership positions to convince women who are less senior that it is possible and attainable in their organisation.


We have used Typecoach for many years.  Founded by Rob and Carly Toomey, it is based on Myers Briggs classifications and focuses on your interactions with others and understanding how to communicate more effectively.  It is supported by a website that is very interactive, enables teams to share profiles and get insights into team members preferred styles.  It is very focused on practicality and outcomes and those who undertake the profile have access to the platform for life.  Many people who have previously used MBTI have found Typecoach particularly valuable based on their previous knowledge of the terminologies.

When I founded Leadenhall 10 years ago as a Coaching and Leadership practice, I thought getting further training in psychometrics was a nice to have, and over time went about learning more about the instruments that we are now using.   In practice, we are finding that we, and our clients, are using these tools regularly and with great practical effect in our work supporting and developing people at all levels in the organisation.  The most important thing is to use the tools to get results in our work.

Chris Woodman
CEO Leadenhall, MD Coaching on Demand


If you would like to know more about our use of personality questionnaires or have an interest in using them for your team or organisation, pop us your contact details below.