Understanding Personality Type

Myers Briggs Type Indicator

Leadership occurs at different levels and in different teams across an organisation. In developing alignment in teams the fundamental principles of W.Edwards Deming ‘System of Profound Knowledge’ (understanding variation, systems, people and learning) in combination with Barry Oshry’s work in system dynamics, Koestenbaum’s Leadership Diamond and others, all point towards an important question which, when addressed, helps increase individual and team awareness as well as functionality and productivity – “what makes us tick”? Why do we make the decisions we make, what are they based on and why did we focus on those elements and not others?

The MBTI instrument is based on a personality framework that helps people to explore preferences for taking in information and making decisions. The framework also looks at where people prefer to focus their attention and how they prefer to live their lives and preferred styles of working and interacting with other people. A key feature is the focus on likely strengths and positive qualities of different personality styles.

As an instrument for building alignment the MBTI is very versatile and widely used for many purposes including (but not limited to):

  • Individual development
  • Team building and team development
  • Organisational change
  • Improving communication
  • Diversity work
  • Education and career counseling
  • Relationship counselling

MBTI Process and Outcomes

Participants complete a questionnaire individually and the analysis describes an individual’s preference on four dimensions:

Extraverted

Prefers to draw energy from the outer world of activity, people and things

OR

Introverted

Prefers to draw energy from the inner world of reflections, feelings and things



Sensing

Prefers to focus on information gained from the five senses and on practical applications

OR

Intuitive

Prefers to focus on patterns, connections and possible meanings



Thinking

Prefers to base decisions on logic and objective analysis of cause and effect

OR

Feeling

Prefers to base decisions on a valuing process, considering what is important to people



Judging

Likes a planned, organised approach to life and prefers to have things decided

OR

Perceiving

Likes a flexible, spontaneous approach and prefers to keep options open



Feedback on the types is discussed in a face to face session with a professional trained in the interpretation and application of the MBTI questionnaire. During the session MBTI is explained, the individual results are explored and people have the opportunity to discuss any questions they have and say what seems to fit and what, if anything, doesn’t seem to fit. A key aim of the session is to establish which personality type fits best.

A more detailed version of the instrument can also be used to provide further insight into each of the four MBTI preferences in five facets:

  • Communication style
  • Problem solving preference
  • Decision making style
  • Change management
  • Conflict management

Team Development and Alignment

A typical team development session can last from half to a full day and can focus on getting to know each other better, exploring how people work together, lead, make decisions and build an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the team as a whole.

Activities can focus on:

Building the team

Using the individual responses to Myers Briggs to explore:

  • What we bring to the team
  • The value of each type and how we can use it
  • Myers Briggs and decision making
  • What we need to pay attention to as a team (behaviours)

Plotting the team –

  • ‘Team Type’
  • What does this mean for us as a team?
  • Probable strengths
  • Probable weaknesses/blind spots

Team self awareness

  • Recognition of the impact of blind spots
  • Valuing the diversity of the team and contributions of minority type team members
  • Using less-preferred preferences and different types outside the team as resources

Working with Tensions

  • Team/individual tensions
  • Team decision making
  • Potential pitfalls
  • Contributions and stresses in decision making

Temperaments (and leadership styles)

  • Building an appreciation of roles and possible blind spots
  • Patterns of behaviour