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Coaching with your Personality Type in Mind


Coaching with your Personality Type in Mind

Coaching support in its essence accompanies you through a change process. You're no longer satisfied with where you are, so you take action to reach a new place; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. 

Depending on your Type preferences, you'll approach change in different ways. You'll have certain needs that have to be met for the change to be successful. You'll be paying attention to certain information and need support with specific areas.

These innate preferences might make it hard to understand that not everyone thinks and feels about change the same way you do. 

If you don't know your Type yet and would like to find out, contact me or find another Master Practitioner in your neighborhood. If you do know your Type, here's a brief excerpt from Introduction to Type® and Coaching, by Sandra Krebs Hirsh and Jane Kise. Use this awareness to prepare for your next change process more effectively, and to provide others with what they need to be on board. 

Introversion-Sensing (IS)


During change, ISs' emphasis is on preserving what is already effective and important traditions. To adapt and thrive during change, 

  • Explore how to relate the change to past experiences or familiar knowledge
  • Ask about the practical reasons for the change (e.g. cost or time savings, new regulations, etc.)
  • Try to understand the ways in which the changes will be an improvement over the status quo

Extraversion - Sensing (ES)


During change, ESs' emphasis is on taking action and ensuring efficiency. To adapt and thrive during change,

  • Seek to relate the changes to your specific role
  • Concentrate on the practical results change will bring - ask about what will be faster, more cost-effective, easier, and so on
  • Find evidence that the changes will help you work more effectively

Introversion-Intuiting (IN)


During change, INs' emphasis is on envisioning, or researching how things could be different. To adapt and thrive during change, 

  • Ask for information on books, technologies, theories, or frameworks that are driving the change
  • Seek involvement with the conceptual aspects of the change
  • Consider alternative ideas and concepts as well as "what if" scenarios

Extraversion-Intuiting (EN)


During change, ENs' emphasis is on embracing novelty or new ideas. To adapt and thrive during change,

  • Connect the changes to themes, theories, or overall corporate goals
  • Engage your imaginatino to envision what good might result from the changes
  • Take an active role in enacting changes, especially if the impact goes beyond your own responsibilities

I'll be presenting on Type and Coaching at the DFW APT Chapter meeting on March 18th, starting at 6.30 pm at the King of Glory Lutheran Church, 6411 Lyndon B Johnson Freeway, DallasTX. If you're in town, I'd love to see you! RSVP here


Coaching for Interaction Style Stress


Coaching for Interaction Style Stress

Knowing our personality Type preferences or our Interaction Style can help us better understand what triggers our stress, and how to move out of it quicker. 

For example, the In-Charge™ Interaction Style is driven by a need to accomplish. Shit needs to get done, or we get nervous. As the name implies, we like to be in control, and our energy tends to come across as determined and assertive. When things don't go our way, our first reaction might be to apply a little more pressure, to see if we can push through the resistance and get it done anyway. 

Meme from Pinterest

Meme from Pinterest

If sheer force can't will our goals into existence, we might get more and more demanding, eventually turning to point fingers and unloading a torrent of abuse at the next available person. (Or object. Many are the tables and chairs I've kicked in frustration.) Since this approach rarely works, our stressful situations of non-accomplishment usually end in a devastating anti-climax of pouty and petty "whatever"'s.

We don't really not care, we're just stressed and at a loss how to get it where it needs to be.

Remind you of anyone? Personality Type patterns that share this Interaction Style are ESTJ, ENTJ, ENFJ, and ESTP. 

Here's where we want to remember that the one thing we can always control is our response. Awareness of Interaction Style stress won't stop it from ever happening again, but you'll be able to come out of it quicker. Think about a small thing you can do, and go do it. Check something off your list. Even if it's not related to the project you're working on; you'll still need a sense of accomplishment. 

Be patient with yourself. Are you multi-tasking again? Trying to concentrate of various things at the same time is a good predictor for not getting anything done at all. Focus on one thing at a time, and figure out who can help you. We're all Extraverts in this scenario, talking it over with a trusted friend or colleague will help. 

And my favorite reminder comes straight out of

Seek a broader understanding

Just because you think nothing is happening doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing is happening. No matter what your role or perspective, you will not have visibility into every perspective. Seek to understand issues from different perspectives by asking questions and putting yourself “in others' shoes.”

I'm opening a coaching program specifically for people with ENFJ preferences next month. If you'd like to learn more about it, and get a demo of Matrix Insights, visit and sign up for the webinar. 

Interaction Styles™ are based on Linda Berens, PhD theory and part of her Berens CORE™ Approach. I've written about them before and recommend you buy her book or visit Linda's website

Image thanks to bottled_void on flickr, Creative Commons license


Coaching for impact - Leveraging Type


Coaching for impact - Leveraging Type

Bernie Goldstein, MBA, PCC, gave a presentation at the New York chapter of the Association for Psychological Type (APT NYC) in October. I really enjoyed the session and learned a lot about how different personality types prefer to coach.

Schopenhauer said that people define the limits of their world by the limits of their own vision. What type was Schopenhauer?



4 Conditions for Successful Coaching in Organizations

Pic Credit: Ambro

Pic Credit: Ambro

Is your company offering coaching? Have you gone through the process? How did you experience it, would you recommend coaching or was it a waste of your time?

Here are some markers that increase the odds of making an executive coaching experience the best it can be, as identified by the 2008 AMA's global survey into successful coaching practices.

First, coaching needs to be viewed as a reward.

Coaching can be a very effective tool if applied in the right way. For example, if you look at AMA research, coaching is far more effective when applied to high potential leaders who are striving to get better, not fixing failures. So I think if coaching is seen as a positive activity, an activity for high potential leaders, an activity for leaders who really are excellent to start with, that are trying to get better, you are going to get a great return. If coaching is seen as a punishment, something for losers, or something that is for people who have severe problems, then it’s probably not going to work very well. If you look at all the research on this, not just the AMA study, but all the other research that’s been done, I think the results are consistent. The big payoff in coaching is for high-potential people who are trying to get better and coaching then is seen as a reward or a positive activity, not a punishment, or negative activity.” Marshall Goldsmith

Second, it needs to be voluntary.

Coaching in many ways is a facilitated and accompanied change process, and the person changing - the coachee - needs to do that from their own free will, or the results are not going to stick. Just think of the person you're telling to lose weight or stop smoking: they have to want it for themselves in order to make it work. Sure you may convince potential clients of the benefits of the desired outcome and talk them into making a change, but personally, that goes against my understanding of personal freedom and responsibility, not to mention coaching ethics.

Thirdly, you need rapport and trust between coach and coachee to ensure a good match.

In an organizational setting, executives should have a variety of coaches to choose from for their individual process. That means the company needs to find and interview coaching talent with the best or most appropriate background knowledge to make sure these coaches are able to fulfill the defined coaching purpose. The second stage would be for the executive to be coached to interview the available coaches and make sure to choose the one coach that is the best match for their personality. Trust and rapport between coach and coachee are equally if not more essential to the coaching process than the coach's expertise.

Lastly, coaching is most successful when integrated into the company's strategic vision.

As Dr. Duffy Spencer explains, traditional closed organizations that promote internal competitiveness and knowledge hoarding need to turn into evolving, supporting and nurturing structures if they want to retain their high performers. In order to create buy-in to the effectiveness and strategic advantages coaching can offer, it has to be viewed as a legitimate individual development tool. This is not possible in an organizational culture where learning by doing is discouraged, and the success of one comes at the disadvantage of another.

Looking forward to reading your comments!

(From the archives, first published in January 2010) 



From New York to Mexico: Alice gets an MBTI® assessment, culture training, and follow-up expat coaching

Business woman with suitcaseWe all know at least one person who is so comfortable with herself and confident in her abilities, she has a hard time seeing someone else's point of view, right? Let's call her Alice: Alice works in a health care company in New York State. Let's say they make blood pressure measuring machines that use the latest wireless technologies, so demand is growing rapidly. In her office, the idea of

"it's not personal, it's business"

prevails, and achieving sales goals is more important than being on good terms with other sales people. Her friends affirm to her on a daily basis that it's inspiring to see her excel at her work, kicking ass and taking names. They also admire the apartment and wardrobe she is able to afford. Her managers reward her by explaining that her integrity and focus show what leaders are made of; ready to make the tough call, and then reap the benefits of defending her position. She continually receives positive performance evaluations.

When Alice gets sent abroad to lead a project in Mexico, she knows she is the most qualified to see it through. The move was short-notice and the shareholders were putting pressure on everyone, so she didn't have time to take the culture training she was offered. After all, she has worked with some of the Mexican colleagues before, they know her, and she has only moved a few hundred miles South.

She sets up shop, gets to work as she is used to, and soon hits a wall. She chalks is up to getting used to the food and climate, maybe even blames her new colleagues a little for not keeping up with her pace, and decides to bring her best A-game yet. She begins setting stricter goals, speaking even more directly in meetings, and gripping on to her leadership get-it-done beliefs, which have now become convictions.

This has always worked in the past, and gosh darn it, she is here to do her job.

What she doesn't realize is that in Mexico, an orientation to team work, the community, nurturing relationships, and an indirect style of communication are the norm. Alice's insisting on doing what worked "at home" is stressful not just for herself, but also for her team. The Mexican colleagues continue to be friendly and agree with her in meetings, but they no longer meet their goals. Alice doesn't understand what's going on, and can only tell her superiors that people are agreeing with her but then turning around and doing something completely different. She doesn't know what else to do.

Coaching to the rescue

Her US American boss usually coaches her himself, but in this situation he thinks someone with first-hand experience might have a wider angle. He agrees with Alice to add coaching to her performance goals, and encourages her to choose someone specializing in expat leadership issues from

Alice speaks to two other coaches before choosing to work with me. After our introductory call, we agree we're a good fit, clarify what her goals for the coaching process are, and get to work.

The Process

The first thing I do is send her login details to take the MBTI(r) Step II questionnaire. She did it before but couldn't remember her letters, so she goes online to fill it in again, and once the results are in, we schedule a debrief to confirm them.

Sample MBTI Step II result screenshot

I'm in Texas and we could do this through Skype, but for our first meeting I'd like to see where she's at, so I fly to meet her in Mexico. We spend maybe two hours going over the MBTI(r) Step II results.

Looking at Temperament

Once we know her personality type preferences, we have a better understanding of what motivates her. For example, people with an NF in their code are so-called Catalysts™ who thrive on meaning and identity. Catalysts are great people-people who enjoy watching others grow and fulfilling their potential.

People with an SP in their code are called Improvisers™ and thrive on freedom and the ability to make an impact. They're the firefighters and troubleshooters who love being in the action.

If Alice has an SJ in her code, she's a Stabilizer™ and is probably driven by a sense of duty, responsibility, and belonging. Stabilizers appreciate hierarchies and defined roles, bringing structure and security to their communities and companies.

If Alice has an NT in her code, she's a Theorist™, driven by competence and self-control. Theorists value systems, strategies, and analysis, and are often the engineers or inventors of society.

We can also start looking at what possibly motivates her team and build bridges of understanding.

Underlying cultural values and how they affect behavior

Whatever the underlying motivation, it is clear that her current working practices are not achieving the results she's expecting. There's more to the puzzle. We would therefore spend another two or three hours looking at the differences between how leadership and business etiquette works in the USA, and how it works in Mexico. We might even throw in some socio-cultural questions, because I know she's wondering why everybody keeps inviting her to their homes, and how she can keep the black widow spiders out of her bathroom.

Pulling it together

Now Alice has a basic idea of a) how the general cultural values influence behaviors of everyone in both countries, and b) how individual differences show up in people's personality types. Her homework is to read the materials I've provided, and start paying attention to her interactions at work.

For about 3 weeks, she will jot down key items and interactions, send me a bunch of emails, and we'll look to decipher those interactions in our follow-up coaching sessions. The first one or two sessions will be reactive and learning from hindsight, but soon enough she will have practiced flexing her behaviors into what is customary among Mexicans. This will enable her to anticipate and better prepare for important vendor negotiations and client meetings.

After a total of maybe five or six sessions, we have reached our coaching goals and she is happy to let me go and continue by herself. Her confidence in herself and her abilities restored, she will likely enjoy her time in-country, build a valuable network of like-minded professionals, and deliver her project on time and within budget. She's happy to be back in the saddle, her team is happy to do their work, and her boss in New York is happy he didn't have to pull Alice out, move her back, find someone else to mend the fences in Mexico, and that the project is safe.

Happy people all-round for an investment of about $3,000 over a six-month period.

Does this story sound familiar?

Maybe you've been an expat or managed one and think "yeah right, in an ideal world. I've had training and it was hard anyway."

Becoming more aware of yourself with the help of the MBTI® or other self-assessment tools is a great start. But knowing a four-letter Type without decent follow-up means you'll soon forget the richness and potential.

Learning about your own cultural preferences and the values of your new colleagues and host country is essential on an assignment, or even a quick business trip. But having a framework without decent follow-up means you'll soon forget the richness and application.

That's why coaching is necessary to reinforce the learning, practice the new concepts until they become habits, and have the support of someone who's been there. To quote Aristotle,

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


Daily Survival Kit


Daily Survival Kit

daily survival kit
daily survival kit

This is a gift we received at our last Toastmasters meeting, where the Toastmaster shared her New Year's resolution: She's going to pay it forward, and share any inspiration she receives with others.

The bag probably looks a little strange just from the photo, but here's what the card says:

Daily Survival Kit

TOOTHPICK to remind you to pick out the good qualities in others.

RUBBER BAND to remind you to be flexible, things might not always go the way you want, but it will work out.

BAND AID to remind you to heal hurt feelings - yours or someone else's.

PEN to remind you to make a list of your blessings every day.

ERASER to remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and it's ok.

CHEWING GUM to remind you to stick with it and you can accomplish anything.

MINT to remind you that you are worth a mint!

CANDY KISS to remind you that everyone needs a kiss or a hug every day.

TEA BAG to remind you to relax daily and go over that list of blessings.

As you can see, I've taken her resolution on as my own - passing this on. Feel free to do the same! :-)

Image by magicatwork, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



How not to run a blog

The most successful blogs have the following elements - no particular order - in common: 1. Clearly defined audience In this case, I'm writing for expats, lovepats, accompanying spouses, international students, sojourners, military families, global HR department officials, type enthusiasts, coaches, trainers, research participants, and anyone interested in personality and culture.

Guess I could be a tad more specific, huh.

2. Purpose Simon Sinek calls this the "why". In fact, he says everything starts with "why". I started my blog and everything that led up to my business, because I love being an expat. Have loved it since 1997, right up until 2006, when I became an accompanying spouse with an identity crisis where a work permit used to be.

Strong words, and at the time it felt more like a period of funk and "what's wrong with me?" But hindsight is awesome, so now after much coaching and learning I know what was going on. THAT kind of insight into the emotional challenges of international relocation is what I want to share, so others don't fall into the same hole, or at least learn some strategies to climb out of it faster. I also found that becoming aware of our cultural and type differences opens channels of non-threatening and non-judgmental communication, which in turn help celebrate diversity, foster conducive work environments, and loving relationships.

Is that clear from what I'm writing? Please let me know! I do have a tendency to ramble and get side-tracked. In person that can be quite charming, just think of Billy Connolly and his tangents, how he always finds his way back to his point eventually, laughing at himself and the absurdity of life in the progress. But on a blog... Your time is precious, you don't want it wasted, right?

Where was I?

3. Quality content Not only should posts be written well, grammatically correct, and with flawless punctuation, they should also address the readers' needs. Am I doing that? I think my style may be a bit too lecture-heavy, although I do try to tell stories from my own experiences. Normalizing is a big part of my work, letting people know that what they're going through doesn't make them freaks of the universe. Again, please let it rip and let me know what you were hoping to find when you clicked over here, that would mean and help a lot!

4. Frequent updates The range goes from multiple daily updates to weekly posts to monthly feature articles. The consensus seems to be not about what the frequency is, but that there be one.

I'm doing weekly posts here (have been since 2007, check the archives), but know that I was severely lacking in the frequency department over on my research page. Which is why I'm taking Danielle's advice and consolidating the two. To make it easy to find, I've added a Research category for those of you who are only here to learn more about how personality type affects cultural adaptation in expats.

5. Involving the tribe Providing a space for discussion used to be the prerogative of any blog's comments section - now Facebook has earned the privilege. Have you liked my page yet? No? Probably because I haven't been posting specific items with alluring photographs and catchy headlines to draw you in. I've recently disconnected the Twitter stream not to appear there anymore, because it did get overwhelming.

Hey! I know, this is almost turning into pity-party. In case the title didn't give it away, I am scolding myself here. And by scolding, I mean using a coaching technique that I know to be effective: public goal-setting.

My goals are To provide value to expats and their accompanying spouses To share what I've learned along the way To use this forum for the good of celebrating diversity in type and culture

Will you help keep me accountable?

Thanks to Stuart Miles for the free pic!


Should you leave your comfortable job?


Should you leave your comfortable job?

I was delighted to receive an email this week from someone who's wondering whether to leave his comfortable job for one more thrilling and fulfilling. He already read the article about this opportunity for change I wrote back in 2007, and here are 3 more tips to help you decide:

Not many people change just for the fun of it, especially if there's no apparent or urgent need. You've probably heard one or more of these arguments to count yourself lucky and stay where you are:

  • you have a job
  • you're earning money
  • it took you a while to get where you are now
  • you HAVE a JOB!

There's no urgency to find a job when you already have one. There's no need to change jobs if the one you have pays well and serves your current purposes. Why would you throw out all the effort you put in to train for what you're doing now? And let's not forget there's a lot of fear and uncertainty about quitting "in these unstable economic times".

So what are you supposed to tell that little voice that nags louder every day, "is this really it?"

It might get worse before it gets better

All those years ago, I left my cushy job for another one. The commute was nicer, the pay was better, the work was more interesting - easy decision to make. Except the boss and I didn't get along and I was back on the streets within 6 months.

There are no guarantees. Even if the new opportunity looks lovely, feels fantastic, smells divine, and sounds superb, you may still hate it. Or it may hate you.

You can prepare for this eventuality in a variety of ways. Research the company thoroughly, insist on speaking with supervisors, peers, and customers alike, or spend some time as an "intern" to shadow what a week on the team would look like before you make a commitment.

Get support

After I was let go, I took four whole weeks off to participate in a coaching program. That was the first time I ever seriously took the time to stop and think - what is it that I actually want to do with my life? What am I good at? And what is it that I actually enjoy doing? Believe me - sometimes those two things are NOT the same! Having a coach to ask the uncomfortable questions and confront me with my limiting self-talk was priceless.

You can start by reading books on career management like What Color Is Your Parachute (affiliate link), interviewing people who have the job you think you'd like to have to see if it's all it's cracked up to be, or hiring a coach. Shameless plug for your consideration: I use Type knowledge in my coaching, which means it's all tailored to my client's personality style. :-)

Remember you have options

I'm a big fan of only leaving a job when I know the next thing is lined up, but sometimes it's hard to get there. If you're scared about the economy, scared you won't find another thing half as decent as what you have now, scared you'll lose money, scared the colleagues will hate you - then wait. A scared brain doesn't think straight. A scared brain is in survival mode, not open to properly evaluating all the available alternatives out there.

Big decisions like jobs are worth sleeping over and researching properly, and no employer is going to expect you sign the dotted line right after your interview. Take the time you need to come to the decision from a place of certainty.

So - should you leave your comfy job?

You'll know it's time when the only thing worse than leaving would be to stay.


Image by Nate Shivar, flickr, Creative Commons license