Space for network members to start discussions, share ideas and resources, and/or raise questions.
The Columbia Coaching Learning Association (CCLA) and association with the Columbia Coaching Program (CCP) partners with various assessment providers to host assessment certifications for our members @ a discount. I had the pleasure of hosting the Birkman Method Certification on the campus of Columbia University last Thursday and Friday - March 17-18, 2016! Birkman is one of the top 3 comprehensive personality assessments on the market.
While I personally completed Birkman Certification back in 2011, and since then have conducted nearly 100 client debriefs, it was great to be with an intimate group of Columbia Coaching Program Candidates and 1 Member of our Core Instructor Team to have the opportunity deepen my knowledge of the tool (and related updates) with Sharon Birkman Fink herself (the firm's CEO), along with her Training Director.
What Birkman Measures
The Birkman Method offers a comprehensive measure of personality that offers a wide range of report formats (and supporting tools), all results from 1 self-questionnaire. Specifically, the assessment measures the following elements:
- 11 (soon to be 9) components of personality that is summarized in what they call a "Life Style Grid" providing a visual view of personality preferences along two continuum of: (1) direct to indirect communication and (2) task (objective) and people (subjective) focus;
- Interests: a personality perspective focus on what individuals want to do, (i.e., the typical interests pattern reflective of the type of results one's seeks and the kinds of activities that generate the most satisfaction for a person) - in short, this measure can provide individuals with useful vocational and avocational preferences;
- Usual Behavior - provides a summary of one's typical/external behavioral patterns for both tasks effectiveness and relational patterns;
- Underlying Needs - this is view of one's internal perceptions and expectations for how tasks and relationships should be governed, while these factors are related to motivation, thus action, they are much more difficult to identify; and
- Stress Behavior - while interests, usual behavior, and underlying needs all combine to provide a profile one's "best self," conversely, this element profiles ineffective behavioral styles when needs go unmet (or potential derailers).
Kurt Lewin's, now famous equation: B = f (P) x (E), that is, behavior in organizations is a function of the person and the environment, provides evidence of the value and potential applications growing out of the Birkman assessment for coaches and other helping professionals; in short, assessment results trigger important insights and conversations about the activities and situations that provide high levels of satisfaction, as well as, situations that cause stress and dissatisfaction - both critical inputs to operating effectively in organizations. These insights can help individuals (and organizations) make decisions related to: (1) preferred occupational fit (based on 22 job families, 200+ job titles (linked to O*Net); (2) management style (i.e., approach to managing tasks and people); and (3) work environment (i.e., the work environment that brings the best support and fit).
Personality and Executive Coaching
The two-days spent in the most recent Birkman Method Training highlighted important connections between the role of understanding personality preferences of our client's and effective coaching. In terms of self-as-instrument, it is equally important of coaches to understand how their personality will have a direct influence on how they approach the work of executive and organizational coaching, regardless of core competencies promoted by various professional coach association. Specifically, during the workshop, I began to see connections between personality and select core coaching competencies (i.e., coaching presence and relating). It also occurs to me that personalty influences a coach's approach to core competencies of testing assumptions and reframing (both related to what ICF call's creating awareness). As a result of these insights, I plan to attend to personality more explicitly in the redesign of Columbia's Coaching Program (an initiative that will begin in April). ]
Having provided a summary of my personal reflections from the Birkman Certification Workshop, I invite the others who attended this learning experience to share their reflections as part of this discussion blog - including connections each make their their own coaching practice, in terms of potential connections to personality with: (1) guiding principles (the mindset/stance of the coach); (2) core coaching competencies (implications of "self-as-instrument"); and (3) coaching process (i.e., implications for navigating the map of coaching engagements).