According to a recent survey from Hogan Assessments conducted in partnership with Blue Coach, success (or lack of it) shows clear evidence of the influential role of personality in leadership, individual performance, and social team interactions in sports.
Effective leadership is essential in any sports organisation, both in the boardroom and on the training pitch. With the sports season about to start in Europe, questions about personal and team performances will arise again. Hogan Assessments – the global leader in workplace personality assessment and leadership development – conducted a survey in partnership with Blue Coach to understand how athletes’ psychological and characteristics can influence individual performance and team success.
Personality tests and performance in sports
The use of personality tests to identify and drive talent development initiatives is prevalent across industries. In the sports and recreation industry, personality tests are rapidly gaining momentum as they allow athletes and coaches to gain self-awareness and to adjust their behaviour and improve performance.
To get the most out of each player and make the team experience a positive one, it is crucial to understand the individuality of players and the dynamics of group interaction. It is also essential to know members well enough to be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses and use them to their fullest potential. In this, the Hogan Assessment Systems suite of personality assessments enables coaches and athletes to strategically identify developmental opportunities beyond physical training and provide unique insights that establish a baseline for these developmental opportunities.
Personality of athletes
While the personality of players cannot be expected to change, identifying characteristics relevant to success in a specific sport or position can help drive (did we mean personal?) initiatives. Each player brings with them a unique personality to the team and certain personality profiles can be more successful in one position over another.
According to the Hogan survey, the best athletes tend to score higher on the HPI Prudence and Diligent scales, making them more likely to be self-motivated and focused during practice. On the other hand, athletes who score lower on these scales tend to require constant reminders to practice and complete drills, especially when the coach is not present to keep them in line.
The same survey has shown that while some personality characteristics can improve performance, others can cause athletes to become less effective. For instance, lower scores on the MVPI Power represent a lack of competitiveness. Similarly, higher HPI Sociability and MVPI Hedonism can ‘destroy the potential’ of an individual team member. Athletes with higher scores on these scales are less likely to respond to feedback and are more likely to engage in behaviours that negatively impact performance.
Team dynamics to success
As a team responds to the personnel decisions made by their coach, it is essential for sports coaches to develop effective inter and intrapersonal strategies for their teams while being aware of how others perceive them. According to Hogan, an effective coach is not a people pleaser. Instead, the best coaches are those who score high on HPI Prudence and HDS Diligent. These coaches tend to micromanage (which can be frustrating for some), but their level of preparation makes them successful. They also stand apart from others as they have a strong attention to detail and degree of focus.
In addition to that, coaches need to ensure that interpersonal relations stay positive through constructive coaching and communication between players during practices and games. Even though negative feedback is common and accepted in the world of sports, it often affects the team dynamics which can have consequences that impact team performance. Being on a constant lookout for the positive and negative factors that influence individual and team performance allows a great coach to get ahead of any potential conflict within his team.
Dr Ryne Sherman, chief science officer at Hogan Assessments adds: ‘Sports regularly show us that leadership is ultimately about building and maintaining high performing teams and driving them to success. There are many lessons for business leaders to be taken from the world of sports.
‘Great coaches are aware of the personalities of their players and understand the dynamics of their team. They constantly experiment and innovate and can never be too proud or lazy to continue learning and most importantly, they anticipate any potential element that can cause conflict within their team. This should be a great lesson for any business leader today.’