Association of Personality and Thinking Style With Effective Surgical Coaching

JAMA Surg. 2020 Jun 1;155(6):480-485. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2020.0234.


Importance: While interest in surgical coaching programs is rising, there is no objective method for selecting effective surgical coaches.

Objective: To identify a quantitative measure to determine who will be an effective surgical coach.

Design, setting, and participants: This prospective cohort study included coaches and coachees from 2 statewide peer surgical coaching programs: the Wisconsin Surgical Coaching Program and the Michigan Bariatric Surgical Collaborative coaching program. Data were collected from April 2014 to February 2018, and analysis began August 2018.

Interventions: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was administered to coaches and coachees, and the Life Styles Inventory was administered to surgical coaches before their first coaching session.

Main outcomes and measures: Coach performance in the first coaching session and all coaching sessions using the Wisconsin Surgical Coaching Rubric.

Results: Twenty-three surgical coaches and 38 coachees combined for a total of 65 unique pairs and 106 coaching sessions. Overall, 22 of 23 coaches (96%) and 32 of 38 coachees (84%) were men. An increase in a coach's Life Styles Inventory constructive style score correlated with an increase in overall coach performance for the first coaching session (r = 0.70; P = .002). Similarity in the coaching pair's Myers-Briggs Type Indicator judging/perceiving dichotomy was also associated with an increase in overall coach performance for their first coaching session (β = 0.38; P = .02). When all sessions were included in the analysis, these objective measures were no longer associated with coach performance.

Conclusions and relevance: Surgeons of all personalities and thinking styles can become an effective coach with appropriate training and experience. Coach training can be tailored to support diverse behavioral styles and preferences to maximize coach effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring*
  • Michigan
  • Personality*
  • Personnel Selection / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thinking*
  • Wisconsin