Personal Development Profiles - A Tool for Effective Coaching

Andy Britnell

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Personal development profiles, also known as personality profiles, are a tool I frequently use before starting a course of coaching with a client. The client answers a series of questions about preferred behaviour styles and their responses generate a report which outlines their strengths, areas for improvement, blind spots, their contribution to the team, ways they could improve their communication and how to deal with challenging people.

I find personal development profiles are a great start to the coaching process as the profile helps the client to begin looking at their own behaviour in ways they have probably never done before. It helps to develop rapport as the coach is not providing the feedback at this stage – it has been generated by their own responses. The coach provides assistance in understanding the report and I find that many clients experience an ‘aha!’ moment when they suddenly realise why they find certain kinds of people or situation difficult. Occasionally I have been asked if I have been talking to their mother!

As mentioned, the report will identify ‘blind spots’. For obvious reasons these are not evident to us, and often friends and colleagues are hesitant about giving feedback. If they try, we may reject it as the mind does not like the idea we may have a failing. For an executive or leader in business, the situation can be even more difficult, as none of their colleagues may be brave enough to point out the reality of the situation until a crisis has arisen.

Looking at the profile is a taste of what is to come during coaching when the coach’s job is to provide feedback and ask challenging and provocative questions designed to get below the surface behaviour to understand what’s driving it.

I know that some people are cynical about personal development profiles – the most common criticism I have heard is that they ‘put people in a box’. To that I would reply that they are merely a good starting point for a process of understanding self and others. They do not provide the whole picture of an individual, but they are a useful guide to how they might behave in certain situations.

Andy Britnell is an executive coach who works with businesspeople in both the private and public sectors who wish to achieve better results. More information can be seen at and

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