Value of Using Personality Assessments in Executive Coaching


Dialogic OD: The next step in the evolution of organizational change theories

Value of Using Personality Assessments in Executive Coaching

By Nancy Zentis, Ph.D.

I think personality assessments are extremely valuable for Coaches to help individuals learn more about their personality traits and preferences.  I remember the first assessment I ever experienced.  It was the Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC), which refers to a theory of career and vocational choice based on one’s own personality preferences.   It groups people on the basis of their suitability for six different categories of occupations:

  1. R: Doers (Realistic),
  2. I: Thinkers (Investigative)
  3. A: Creators (Artistic)
  4. S; Helpers (Social)
  5. E: Persuaders (Enterprising)
  6. C: Organizers (Conventional)

The theory was developed by John L. Holland over the course of his career, beginning in the 1950s.  The typology has come to dominate the field of career counseling and has been incorporated into most of the popular assessments used in the field.

This assessment helped me identify my preferred skills and interests to guide my career choices and the college majors I’d best be suited for.  I’ve used this assessment many times as a counselor, coach, and as a career development consultant.

I’m also a big fan of the DiSC assessment instrument.  I use this assessment for Executive Coaching. The DiSC profile is a nonjudgemental tool used to understand one’s preferred behavior styles and how they compare to other people’s behavioral differences.  This is based on the theory of William Moulton Marston.  He generated the DISC characteristics of emotions and behaviors of normal people and links them back to studies of human behavior conducted by Hippocrates.  The DiSC model provides four profiles of behavior: Dominate, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientious.  People can use this assessment to better understand themselves and adapt their behavior to be more effective with others within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.  The DiSC assessment helps increase your self-knowledge of your personal preferences, how you are motivated and how you’d like others to communicate with you.  It also identifies your derailers, how you respond to conflict, what causes you stress, how you solve problems, and how you can improve relationships.  The first time I encountered the DISC instrument in a training session, I became aware of my behavior style and how it impacted others.  This experience taught me how to accept others and modify my behavior to be more effective when dealing with others.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is another one of my favorite assessments.  I became certified in the Myers Briggs and used the assessment as a trainer and coach to help individuals understand their personality preferences based how they perceive their world, prefer to interact with others, how they take in information, and how they process the information and make decisions.  The MBTI was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers and is based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality types.  It is one of the most widely used psychological assessments which identifies 16 MBTI personality types.  The goal of the MBTI is to allow respondents to further explore and understand their own personalities including their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, possible career preferences, and compatibility with other people. There are four different scales – Extroversion/Introversion, INtuitive/Sensing, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perceiving.  These four scales provide sixteen different types based on your preference of one scale over another.  The Myers Briggs can be used in coaching as a tool to help the client learn more about their preferences and gain a deeper understanding of their unique personality.  There are no right or wrong styles, it is not a test, it doesn’t diagnose your mental health.  It’s simply a tool to offer further information about your unique personality.

I’ve also used a values and motivation assessment based on the work of Edward Spranger.  In his book entitled “Types of Men”.  Spranger identified six major attitudes or world views based on values.  The values and motivation assessment measures the relative weight individuals place on:

  1. Theoretical Values
  2. Utilitarian Values
  3. Aesthetic Values
  4. Social Values
  5. Individualistic Values
  6. Traditional Values

The assessment also shows individuals their value preferences.  The individual report provides a definition of each of the values and gives descriptors of actions and initiatives you might expect to see exhibited from the person based on the value.  This is an excellent tool to use for career development, team development, relationship building and values clarification.  Helping clients recognize their top values as drivers of their behavior can help them achieve critical breakthroughs.

Assessment instruments are helpful tools used in coaching to help clients who need to gain greater insight into their strengths, behaviors, style preferences, values and motivators.  By gaining a deeper understanding of self, individuals can challenge themselves to grow and develop new capacities.

About IOD and Executive Coaching Certification Program:

IOD offers an Executive Coaching Certification Program online to help coaches advance in their career and build their reputation as an effective coach. This program provides participants with the tools and skills needed to develop an integrated executive coaching strategy.

The Executive Coaching Certification Program (ECCP) is offered online over 8 months, 3 hours per month to maximize your development as an Executive Coach.  Each session is delivered live through Go-to-training.  Our expert faculty provide interactive discussions, examples, tools, guidelines, and resources to enrich your learning.  For more information, visit our website:


Dr. Nancy Zentis is the CEO of Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and OD Advanced Skills courses for ongoing learning.  She can be reached at  For more information about our certification programs and short courses, visit our website


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