Blog – How Much Can We Change?

Last month’s theme was around individuals reflecting on the year that has gone and what they might want to change in the year ahead. At the time I focused on the impact this has for organisations in terms of turnover but it also got me thinking about how much it is possible for an individual to transform themselves.

As luck would have it we have access to a useful pool of quantitative data on transformations in individual thinking and behaviour, collected using the Life Styles Inventory (LSI)™, a 360 diagnostic designed to measure these two factors. Through this we hope to gain insight into what transformation is possible and some of the factors that contribute to it.

Rather than explore this through our full dataset I decided to focus in on a cohort of 150 leaders within one organisation, comparing their initial LSI measure with a retest to explore how things changed following the initial feedback and coaching. Typically, the retest occurred 2 years after the initial LSI.

The rationale behind focusing on one organisation is an assumption that all individuals will have experienced the LSI in a similar context (e.g. workshop format and number of coaching sessions). I’ve attempted to control for this variable rather than using it in the analysis since we don’t have data on what support the individuals in our dataset received around their initial LSI.

If we start with the cohort as a whole we can see that the median profile has shifted for thinking (Figure 1), with an average improvement of 10.9 percentile points on the constructive styles and 9.9 points on the defensive styles. The median behavioural profile (Figure 2) also shifted with an improvement of 9.5 points on the constructive styles and 4.6 points on the defensives.


This suggests a reasonable improvement for an individual is an average of around 10 percentile points across the 12 styles, although in reality they’re likely to see much bigger improvements in specific styles where they have focused their efforts and these will be balanced against smaller improvements or no movement in other styles.

Where things get interesting though is when we look at the individuals in the cohort who managed to shift their thinking and behaviour the most. By pulling out the top 10% of individuals who moved the most we can see what’s possible for those who are most committed to transformation. As shown in Figure 3 these individuals achieved some amazing results, shifting the dial on their thinking by a very impressive 59.5 points on the constructive styles and 26.1 points on the defensives while their behaviour shifted 41.8/32.9 points.


The efforts of these individuals was rewarded by corresponding improvements in their satisfaction and effectiveness levels, their satisfaction levels increased by an average 12.33% across various measures of their work and general satisfaction levels, compared to an average increase of 0.35% across the entire cohort. Meanwhile effectiveness levels increased by an average 14.47% compared to 1.68% for the cohort.

Clearly these 15 individuals have put a lot of work in to achieve the transformation we’re seeing in the data but it demonstrates what’s possible with enough motivation. They rated themselves higher than average on how well they would react to negative feedback and particularly how interested they were in self-development.

What feedback have you received this year and how could you turn it into a goal for 2020?

We’d love your feedback as well as any suggestions for questions you’d like answered from our data. Email your feedback to


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