Not so long ago we believed that personality traits were fixed. That as humans, we are resistant to change without long term intensive interventions. Conventional wisdom says that after the age of thirty there isn’t much change in our personality (McCrae & Costa, 2003). New research is upending that thinking. We ask, can coaching change your personality?
Your Personality Doesn’t Change After a Certain Age, Right?
Wrong. Whilst it’s true that around 40% of our personality traits are genetic, the rest are down to environmental influences. Studies increasingly show that the traditional school of thought, that our personality is set in stone after a particular age is incorrect. There is a growing body of research that suggests that personality changes can be achieved through coaching.
That’s Great News For Personal Change
A recent study gave subjects the opportunity to work on aspects of their personality during a 10 week coaching programme. Participants were asked to begin by identifying their values. Then, reflect on the positive and negative aspects of their life before considering how their personalty might impact on those aspects. The next step? To create a vision of who they would like to be – identifying the gap between where they were at the beginning of the 10 week coaching programme and where they wanted to be by the end. So what happened?
The Coaching Focus?
The participants were assessed on their openness to change. They were also asked to reflect upon their self efficacy. The researchers focused on three key areas of personality in their assessments:
The participants focussed on what they wanted to change and created a unique coaching plan with their assigned coach. The researchers worked with participants on:
- Identified goals
- Goal setting
- Positive self talk
- Managing change
- How to maintain changes
The Coaching Results?
The researchers found that participant’s levels of neuroticism were significantly reduced during the 10 week programme. They also saw an increase in conscientiousness. What they hadn’t expected though, was an increase in extroversion. What’s more, those changes were still going strong after the study had finished. So, can coaching change your personality? Only if you want it to. The take away? Our behaviour, personality traits and belief in ourselves can change. If we drill down and focus on the areas that we want to see change in we can develop a growth mindset.
If you’re a coach and you’re wondering if change can take place across all five domains of personality – well, that needs further work. The researchers weren’t targeting those areas as the participants hadn’t identified them as areas to work on. What we do know, is that personality isn’t fixed. If we take time to mindfully reflect on where we are and where we want to go, we can change those aspects of ourself and that’s good news for all of us.
We’ve successfully worked with thousands of businesses and individuals around the world to help them achieve their change goals. We’ve coached hundreds of leaders in business, elite sport and tech. We work internationally with Fortune 100 companies to optimise performance, reduce burnout, building resilience and workforce wellness. We provide consultancy, leadership coaching and training. If you’d like to know more about how we can partner with your organisation, get in touch.