The dilemma of choosing an assessment instrument (I)


Psychometric tools are frequently used in training, coaching and for development purposes. Some describe personality traits based on Jungian theory of types, others focus on describing behaviors in work related situations: management or leadership styles, communication, negotiation, problem solving or thinking and learning preferences. Each of them offers an opportunity for exploring and understanding of self and others and provide a lens to explain the complexity of human interaction. Even if no model can reflect the complexity of human personality, behaviors or interaction these tools provide insights.

As we understand that choosing one tool can be a challenge for companies, we briefly explored here-below some of those most frequently used.

A quick review of the MBTI®, Insights®, DISC®, LIFO®, HBDI® assessments and reports:

MBTIPersonality Types – Myers-Briggs Type Indicator one of the oldest personality profiles, based on Jungian theories of Psychological types. The MBTI® focuses on 4 dimensions of personality: our preference for the inner or the outer world, the way we gather information, the way we make decisions and how we organize and structure our lives. Each dimension has a polarity from which 16 personality types are extracted. The MBTI step II report you get online, shows the scores per dimensions and the facets of each dimensions. It is a very rich source of information for practitioners and therefore a great coaching tool. Also, sometimes it is perceived by the participants as quite technical. MBTI® detailed 16 types are challenging to remember, but it offers a very complete profile and with immense depth.

insightsPersonality Types – The Insights® Discovery is also based on the Jungian theories of psychological type. It takes into account 3 dimensions of personality: our preference for the inner and outer world, the way we gather information and the way we make decisions. Insights also describes personality through 4 energies, Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green and Cool blue which eases the memorizing of the tool and speaks to imagination in terms of behaviors and attitudes. 8 personality types are derived from this model. The Insights report is one that participants tend to appreciate instantly, as it’s easy to digest, it provides input on strengths, development areas and the way people need to interact with you to be effective. Insights® points to the conscious persona, with an interesting reference to the unconscious persona and how you channel your energy. People remember Insights and particularly the color/ energy dominance of their profile, while they might forget the details of the Jungian Dimensions.

DiscBehavior: The DISC® focuses on 4 essential behavioral preferences determined from 2 dimensions: outgoing or reserved (personality traits) versus task focus or people focus (behavioral style). From these dimensions 4 preferences are extracted: Dominant, Inspiring, Cautious, Supportive. However those can vary in their intensity from one person to the next and the tool can be quite rich. The DISC report offers a variety of profile reports on Workplace, Leadership, Management and Sales. Add-on reports on Team View and Group Culture can be ordered. One of the most important aspect is that individuals learn how to build more effective relationships with others and how to adapt their own behavior. The 4 preferences of DISC quite nicely reflect on your leadership or your management style and people tend to remember them effortlessly.

LifoBehavior: LIFO® is an inventory of personal behavioral preferences. It clearly claims not to be a personality instrument but rather a tool that helps you understand how you approach work and treat others. It is a contextual and situational assessment of your behavioral preferences which are classified in 4 leadership preferences: Supporting giving (SG), Controlling taking (CT), Conserving holding (CH) and Adapting dealing (AD). It is about what you do and not who you are. The concept behind it is that there is no bad side to human behavior. LIFO intends to offer an insight into the miss-use of certain behaviors in specific situations. LIFO® will differentiate behaviors when things are normal and calm from those when the context is stressful or conducive to tension.

HermannThinking preferences: The Hermann Brain Dominance Index® (HBDI) is not a personality instrument but a self-assessment on your preferred thinking and learning style. It is about how you process information and what information you value over others. We know that the way we think determines the way we act and this is where the extrapolation of the tool is rich. This tool is built on the concept of whole brain thinking which emphasizes that we are all “whole brain” but (like in the other tools) with some preferences. HBDI is a very appropriate tool to use during an innovation or creativity workshop as it highlights thinking and learning patterns. The concept of left brain and right brain used in the explanation of the theory behind the tool has been challenged by some of the neuroscience researchers. Many correlations can be made with Insights and MBTI.

All these tools are powerful, stimulating and, if clearly framed with the caveat that no one needs to be “put in a box”, any one of them can be a great asset for learning and reflection. Since they are not predictive of job success, we do not recommend any of these assessments to be used solely for selection purposes.

Our partners at Challenge Learning, specialists in applying these tools in the corporate environment, would be happy to provide you more information if needed. Challenge Learning is an organization development and leadership consultancy firm, designing tailored solutions to enable leaders and teams to unleash their creative potential and pull vigorously in the same direction. Starting in May 2017, Challenge Learning is partnering Borrer Executive in providing integrated personality assessments or assessments centers for the senior profile search mandates.


Part 2 will review other instruments: Hogan Derailer, FIRO B®, “Strength Finder” and others, it will be published in the next Borrer newsletter.