Early in my career I was puzzled why everyone didn’t think like me. Why didn’t they focus on a problem, analyze it, come up with a solution quickly and act? Some people took more time, some considered various options. Others were more interested in tactical rather than strategic solutions. Some used their hearts rather than their heads in looking at problems.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
I didn’t know then that a team with different personality types makes a stronger team. Various points of view are useful. Ultimately the team leader makes the decision but varied input aids success. What taught me about understanding different personality types is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
This tool helps identify patterns of behavior. It is so extraordinarily helpful that it should be administered to adults as they enter the workplace, and to young adults thinking about a serious relationship. Licensed consultants can administer MBTI to you and your team. You can read books about it – such as “Please Understand Me” by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.
How does MBTI work? It identifies 16 different patterns of action, based on four pairs of characteristics. The four characteristics are:
Extraversion vs. Introversion: The person who selects people as a source of energy usually tends toward extraversion while the person who chooses solitude to gain energy probably tends towards introversion. Extraversion is characterized by E and introversion by I.
Intuition vs. Sensation: Someone who has a preference for sensation probably describes himself or herself as practical and factual, S. Someone who has a natural preference for intuition probably would be described as innovative and facile with ideas, N.
Thinking vs. Feeling: Those who choose the logical basis of choice are called Thinkers, T, and those who choose the personal basis are Feelers, F.
Judging vs. Perceiving: Those who prefer closure over open options are judging types, J, while those who prefer to keep things open as they consider additional options are perceivers, P.
Keirsey and Bates Types
For the sake of brevity, let’s look at four of the 16 types, their labels, and some attributes that Mr. Keirsey and Ms. Bates give them.
Pedagogue – ENFJ. These are outstanding leaders of groups and often have charisma. They have the charming characteristic of appearing to take for granted that they will have a following. They place value on cooperation from others and are willing to cooperate themselves.
Fieldmarshal – ENTJ. The fieldmarshal needs to lead. ENTJs have a strong urge to give structure wherever they are and to assign people to long-range goals. These people search more for policy and goals than for regulations and procedures. This type rejects inefficiency, and error repetition causes them to be impatient.
Architect – INTP. This type exhibits the greatest precision in thought and language of all the types. INTPs, who make up only 1% of the population, detect contradictions in statements no matter how distant the contradictions were produced. INTPs can become obsessed with analysis, and can be intellectual snobs.
Inventor – ENTP. The inventors wish to exercise their ingenuity in the world of people and things. They deal imaginatively with social relationships. They have both a tolerance and enjoyment of the complex. They are delighted by many things and are easy to please. They look for better ways to do things.
Had I known of the MBTI as I first built teams to solve business problems, it would have provided more points of view and smoothed working relations. As an ENTJ myself, a type associated with corporate executives and senior military officers, I recommend MBTI’s immediate implementation in your organization!
You may have experiences in developing teams which you want to share. If so, let me know, and I may write more about this topic.