In recent years research in sport psychology has moved away from the identification of personality traits as a means to identify peak performance levels; particularly as the multitude of different personalities in elite sport grows. Away from sport a number of performance settings (i.e. performing arts) are still engaging in research related to how personality traits effect results. These studies have identified openness and conscientiousness as being favourable, with neuroticism and emotionality as undesirable. If traits could be easily nurtured or diminished it would make sense to identify key attributes and coach their development as a means of improving performance; however this is not the case. Performance development may be better served by learning more about how to use the traits each individual has in a more effective manner. At MESH we firmly believe that understanding yourself is important for how you manage performance, assisting in strategies to help cope with adversity, structure goals and the ability to work most efficiently. Further with the growth of areas such as mindfulness in psychology, it makes perfect sense the becoming aware of how you function best is crucial to personal development and improvement.

When discussing what constitutes personality, most people will typically suggest that it includes the characteristics that make people different from each other. Personality refers to the collection of enduring psychological features that make individuals different from each other. We also know that each person has their own optimal zone where they perform at their best, which is based on these traits. There are numerous assessments available that identify different personality traits (i.e Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; 16PF+; DISC; Belbin Team Roles – we are a big fan of this for team development) that can be found by using a simple internet search. With an understanding of a number of these, at MESH we have developed our own assessment profile that identifies for personality types.
Impulsive Enforcer Analyzer Intuitive
Personality Profiles
Flash in and out of things Like to be assertive Likes clear goals Are flexible to change
Can lose interest quickly Can be very structured Likes lots of detail Makes decisions on individual choices
Love constantly changing environments Back themselves Hard self-marker Like to be reassured
See the big picture easily Slows down when doubtful / defensive Difficulty adjusting to last minute change / rapid fluctuations Self-doubt can be a problem
Not a fan of detail Resistant to change Don't like surprises Use patterns to show connections
Act on instinct Avoid having too many concurrent tasks Can speed up when under pressure  
Capitalize on burst of energy   Can over analyze  
Don't over analyze   Be logical; have a plan  

Using this Information

The big problem when identifying different personality types within teams and organizations is then the desire for those in senior positions to use this information to label or categorize individuals. This malpractice causes fear mongering amongst those completing the assessment and regularly provides answers of “what I think you want to see” as opposed to honest assessments. We have seen this first hand within sports organisations (who have used other standardized personality profiles), particularly with individuals being labelled “soft” for scoring high in certain areas and others (who knew the purpose of the assessment) scoring themselves highly in powerful, leadership categories as these would “look better” to senior management.

The key factor to using any assessment of personality traits is to use the information in a productive way. As highlighted in the profiles above an individual can use this information to their advantage by using their strength areas to focus on and to manage situations most effectively. Whereas, coaches / leaders / etc. should use this information to adjust their approach to working with this individual. The key to good leadership is having the ability to adapt and meet the needs of the people you work with. At a conference a few years ago there was a presentation given relating to English soccer manager Sam Allardyce’s work at Bolton Wanderers, which demonstrated how he used personality traits within team selection. The example provided was when a key player had been injured in the warm-up prior to the game, allowing for little notice to his replacement. The direct replacement for this player had traits that suggested he didn’t like surprises and performed best when he was fully prepared and could plan (similar to the analyzer profile). Knowing this information Allardyce elected not to choose him to start the game and rather select a player who did not normally play the required position, but had a much more impulsive type of personality.

In summary it is important to understand how you work best and know how much stress you can handle. Realise when you are in control / not in control and identify the warning signals that can negatively affect performance. We recommend developing your coping skills and creating plans that work for you. Don’t just copy what others do.