Why We Focus On Behaviour Over Personality

Why We Focus On Behaviour Over Personality

C-me Colour Profiling focuses on behaviour over personality... but why?

Our working world is saturated with profiling 

Those in Human Resources, Learning & Development and Training have countless options when it comes to profiling tools, designed to help employees better understand themselves and those they work with.

Much of the historical scepticism towards personality profiling is beginning to relax. The view of profiling as 'indulgent, introspective and ineffective' is a thing of the past, and profiling is now increasingly seen as an essential component to personal development. Not only this but profiling is also viewed in many places as the key to releasing potential and increasing organisational effectiveness.

Living in a VUCA1 (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, Ambiguous) world, leaders and organisations do not want to start falling behind with organisational advances.

Individuals are looking to stay motivated with new opportunities. Teams are wanting to work more effectively together. Companies are seeking to gain that competitive edge through upskilling their workforce. Any tool that helps us learn and improve in these areas will understandably attract attention.

What do we actually mean by personality?

Answering this question is vital if we are to then understand what personality profiling is.

Personality refers to an individual's differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Personality is categorised by traits and is formed by the complex relationship between our biology and our environment.

One of the most well-known measurements of these traits is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), analysing 16 different personality types.

Many psychologists today rely on frameworks such as Goldberg's Five Factors of Personality – where individuals are measured on a continuum for each of the following five traits: Open to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism

Goldberg’s-Five-Factors-of-Personality-OCEAN-1 (2)-1

HEXACO added a sixth trait around twenty years ago, which they called Honesty-Humility.

In simple terms, personality is often defined as who I am'.

Personality Profiling

Profiling is a means of better understanding ourselves.

Some profiling tools are simple, whilst others are highly complex. Some require very little input and others require much more. Some profiles are free, whilst others cost hundreds of pounds.

Whatever system we choose to engage with, the overall aim is to grow in self-understanding. If I know myself, I am in a stronger position to reflect on my interactions with others, as well as focus on playing to my strengths.

This all makes logical sense. But what about our behaviour….

Behavioural Profiling

Most psychometric tools focus on personality, which is a valid and important factor to consider in any people development strategy.

As indicated above, the MBTI is one of the most well-known tools that analyse personality. MBTI is helpful for thinking about individual differences in personality. What many people may fail to notice is that it is not always useful or accurate to focus on personality, because people behave differently in different situations2.

Statistical analysis of personality traits shows a low correlation between a person's specific trait in one situation and the trait they express in another situation. For example, knowing if I have the trait of introversion cannot tell me how I would apply this introversion in two different situations.

behaviours vs personality

The image above demonstrates how one personality trait can express opposing behaviours. Essentially, personality would be a more accurate predictor of behaviour when behaviours are aggregated across different situations3. In practice, this would require taking the MBTI test over and over again across a framed time period, something that for most people is both impractical and unrealistic.

Why C-me focuses on behaviours

In contrast at C-me, our focus is on behaviours, underpinned by the firm belief that behaviours have the most direct and therefore biggest impact on ourselves and others.

Behaviours can be easier to predict and far more malleable than personality, i.e. I can adapt my behaviour without having to make fundamental changes to who I am. This is good news as it gives us the freedom to adapt how we relate to situations without having to compromise on authenticity. To some extent, I am who I am but I can adapt how I am.

Many people are reasonably aware of their personality traits, whilst potentially remaining blind to their behaviours and the impact these may have on others. This can potentially be a big problem as understanding how we behave is the first step towards shifting the way we relate to others.

Observations on the Importance of Behaviours

Below are three observations about the importance of behaviours and why C-me focuses on the importance of prioritising behaviour over personality.

  1. BEHAVIOURS CHANGE: self-reflection and feedback can provide valuable insight for personal development.
  2. BEHAVIOURS ARE OBSERVABLE: it is the visibility and direct impact of behaviour on others that when adapted, has the power to create the most dramatic change in communication, resolution and cohesion.
  3. BEHAVIOURS ARE CONTEXTUAL: personality is unlikely to change in two different meetings, but behaviours can and probably should change, depending on the aims of the meeting and the people present.

C-me is a deeply relational tool, focused on the so what? seeking to help individuals, teams and organisations consistently bring their best selves on a Monday morning, as well as the rest of the week!

Profiling is at best, an indulgence, and at worst, a waste of time, UNLESS the profiling process and subsequent personal reflection is backed by genuine accountability and the desire to be aware of our behaviours in light of our new learning.

Effective teams are founded on trust and when we trust one another, we become more receptive or open to reflecting on how our behaviours impact others because essentially we want the team to succeed.

Where this impact is not life-giving, behavioural flexing becomes the tool for succeeding together. Rather than my way or the highway, teams can work together to find the optimal our way. This collective unity and commitment to the whole are foundational to high performance.

Five reasons to use C-me's Behavioural Profiling Tool

  1. The profiles are easy to use, require less than 10 minutes of time and involve answering 15 online questions. The process is simple, but the outputs and applications are not simplistic. There is significant value gained quickly with little input required.
  2. The profiles are simple and memorable, bringing a common language and framework to underpin personal and group transformation.
  3. The profiles are extremely accurate bringing positivity and affirmation, without neglecting areas for development.
  4. The profiles are deeply relational, focusing on behaviour rather than personality. Understanding our own behaviours and those of others is the key to unlocking issues and transforming relationships.
  5. The profiles are practical, with a major focus on application.

For more information, contact C-me or visit our website.


1The following article published the Harvard Business Review provides a helpful summary: https://hbr.org/2014/01/what-vuca-really-means-for-you

2Hunsley, J., Lee, C. M., & Wood, J. M. (2003). Controversial and questionable assessment techniques. In S. O. Lilienfeld, S. J. Lynn, & J. M. Lohr (Eds.), Science and pseudoscience in clinical psychology (pp. 39–76). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

3A detailed explanation of this can be found here: https://opentextbc.ca/introductiontopsychology/chapter/11-1-personality-and-behavior-approaches-and-measurement/

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