Life Styles Inventory | Profile Review

profile tool review Jan 04, 2021

Life Styles Inventory (LSI) by Human Synergistics

Provided by: Human Synergistics, facilitated by 10,000 Hours


Dr Clayton Lafferty founded the global organisation Human Synergistics in 1971, and along with his colleagues developed the world-renowned Life Styles Inventory. Dr Lafferty was a clinical psychologist who had a keen interest in leadership styles from ancient cultures through to modern icons and theories, and his broad perspective helped him to build a tool to understand our own behaviours and how they impact those around us.



The Life Styles Inventory is based around this Circumplex shown below - a visual aid that breaks down the factors that drive personal or organisation effectiveness.

There are:

CONSTRUCTIVE Styles: these characterise self-enhancing thinking and behaviours that build our own level of satisfaction - and describe our ability to develop effective relationships, collaborate well and achieve and deliver tasks. These are typically shown in blue, and that’s also the language used when talking about how to improve and grow these styles e.g. “be more blue”. You aim to grow and develop these styles.

PASSIVE/DEFENSIVE Styles: describe behaviours and thinking that protects ourselves and how we feel safe/secure when we interact with others. These behaviours are shown as green. You aim to reduce and limit these behaviours.

AGGRESSIVE/DEFENSIVE Styles: represent self-promoting behaviour and thinking used to maintain status and position and are shown in red. You also aim to reduce and limit these behaviours.

“The ancestor of every action is thought” RALPH WALDO EMERSON

There are two assessments included in the profiling that I did, there was LSI 1 - which was the results of my own self-assessment and helped me recognise the thinkings that are effective and help me achieve, as well as identifying the thinking styles that are self-defeating or working against me. The LSI 1 shows that your behaviours are the results of your thoughts, and so to change your behaviour you have to understand your thinking styles and change those.

Then there is the LSI 2 - which is the aggregated results of other people’s assessments of me. I had my own manager, four of my direct reports and also a handful of other colleagues that I collaborated with frequently complete an assessment on me. The purpose of the LSI 2 is to provide you with clear feedback on how others see you behaving and creates a really interesting perspective to balance against your own assessment.



  • 16 page overview of the LSI 1 report - the results of your own self assessment

  • 20 page overview of the LSI 2 report - the aggregate results of other’s assessment of you. This report also highlights how the LSI 1 and LSI 2 relate, showing your blind spots, confirmed strengths, stumbling blocks and unrecognised strengths.

  • 116 page book detailing every factor, activities for you to complete to help you navigate your results and identify areas to work on and create an action plan. The book also includes recommended reading for each factor which I really appreciated.

  • A 3 page foldout tool with a set of cards that you use as a summary of your profile, by slotting in the relevant cards that measure your score in each factor and have an overview of the behaviours and also recommendations to make yourself more effective. This is great as a ‘cheat sheet’ of your profile results.



I really enjoyed working with this tool, I think it’s easily one of my favourite personal profiling tools that I’ve used. It provided a really rich data set, as well as tools and learning resources with practical suggestions to help you grow and develop in the recommended areas.

As with any tool, it’s important to remember that the LSI 1 comes from your own answers, and the LSI 2 is other peoples perceptions, and as long as you are open-minded but also pragmatic about how you take the feedback then there’s really only positive and helpful insights.

The insights are clearly very personal, but I took the most from comparing my self-view to other’s perceptions of me. Some clear learnings were around the “Perfectionistic” red style, which I rated myself quite highly which describes how much pressure I can put on myself to deliver work to an extremely high and sometimes unattainable standard. You learn the benefits of reducing your Perfectionistic style e.g. reduced stress, more balance in life and a healthier approach to work.

When I compared my own score in Perfectionistic with how others perceive some of my constructive (blue) styles like Achievement I learnt that people see me as a very high achiever, so I needed to learn how to ease up on myself and here is an example of one of the recommendations directly from the LSI tools: “Reduce the use of “should”, “ought” and “must” in your speech, these words reflect perfectionistic demands that only reinforce your behaviour.”. The reading from the book also helped me set some plans in place to include others in the goal setting for the team



This profile will add real value to your personal development, here are the major benefits in my opinion.

  • Build your self awareness by showing you how others perceive you vs. how you see yourself.

  • Provide practical advice on how to change your thinking styles to be more effective and reduce self-limiting behaviours.

  • A very valuable exercise to do as a leader to get the feedback that others may not also freely give you.

  • Interesting exercise to complete together as a leadership team, to also help each other stay accountable to the areas that you want to change.

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