No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Case Study: Coaching to Type


Beryl Cuckney, head of coaching at The Matchett Group explains how the Myers Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) helped a high flier to find a better work/life balance.

As a coach I often look for contradictions in my clients and use The Myers Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI®) to highlight or even strengthen these insights. For example let me take the case of Roger Lewis, company secretary and head of legal services at PSA Peugeot Citroën in the UK who was a coachee of mine in the summer and autumn of 2004.

When I first started to see Roger he was indeed in transition and described his career as having reached a plateau. He had a very good job but there was no obvious next step for him to take. Of course he realised he could just coast for the next few years but that didn’t seem at all satisfactory. So he was thinking of either using his management skills in other ways within PSA Peugeot Citroën or indeed wondering whether he should leave the company and start something different elsewhere.

The power of coaching is in the focus it provides people who are confronting exactly such decisions and with Roger Lewis, MBTI was the perfect tool for the job.

What was clear to me as coach was the inconsistency in what Roger was saying and what he wanted from his life – and MBTI gave us both an immediate sense of what that might be.

The particular behavioural pairings that showed up this inconsistency were the Judging/Perceiving and the Thinking/Feeling dimensions. As you might imagine many, but not all, lawyers have a strong preference for detail and hard facts. They enjoy analysis. They like hard structure. But what surprised Roger Lewis was the clear preference that he had for those qualities that sit at the other end of the spectrum. So although he has made himself into a very capable and successful lawyer his natural preference is, in fact, for spontaneity, for values, for creativity, for people.

This had been showing up in Roger’s work in two ways. On the one hand the more senior the position he reached in his work the more possibilities there have been for him to use these Perceiving and Feeling qualities. And clearly a lawyer who has the capacity to embrace the human as well as the factual dimensions brings a powerful mix to the table. However, on the other hand, Roger also had the experience that somehow he didn’t fit into the legal profession. It bothered him that he sometimes got bored with the detail and fine print. As he explained to me … “What MBTI showed me is that, temperamentally, I’m not naturally a lawyer. Although I’ve trained myself to be capable in this field that is not where my preferences lie. This was a big revelation to me and helped to understand why I sometimes felt ‘different’ from other lawyers. Now I don’t feel as though I’m deceiving myself any more.”

This insight into his own behaviour has been good news for Roger and good news for PSA Peugeot Citroën because it also showed him he has more choice than he first thought. No longer does he feel he has to stay and coast or leave the company; rather it has shown him that there are ways to develop himself that will enable him to have it all.

“I have found a third way,” he explained. “I have a great job and I now feel far more comfortable with myself in it. But I also realised through the coaching that I have been-short-changing myself. I have always felt capable of achieving so much more and the coaching has challenged me to walk my talk. More specifically this refers to my ambition to write. This has been something I have been playing at, but not really taking seriously, for a number of years. Now I am. Out of work I am now writing short stories which are witty and well written and I am looking to get them published in niche magazines. When I get published it will be a triumph and I am getting enormous personal pleasure and fulfilment from developing this other side of my life. I feel as though the floodgates have opened and I am now a much more relaxed and confident person.”

This story may be unique, but such breakthroughs are by no means uncommon. Many senior executives feel constrained by the roles they have taken, by the unspoken rules to which they have signed up, to the pressure of conforming to norm. In this respect Roger’s case was archetypal. Before the coaching he felt he had to squeeze himself into a shape that was expected of him. Through the coaching he realised that actually it was up to him to fill the shape that he wanted to become and that is the case for many coachees. It shows people the limited assumptions they have been making which have started to rule their lives; then it opens up their possibilities and, if the alliance is effective, it holds them to the actions that they want to take which will transform their lives.

What is worth emphasising, however, is that MBTI was not the only tool we used. However MBTI is a great tool for people in transition, as an incisive lens through which to help coachees to look at all sorts of issues relating to their identity and behaviour. For coaches and for coachees this makes it extraordinarily valuable and it is no wonder that so many users consequently make such remarkable claims for its efficacy.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!