“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” - Lao Tzu
I think this quote sets the stage. I believe I have taken almost every personality type test available in the past fifteen years. I have to tell you that I love this stuff! It never ceases to amaze me how accurate these tests can be, some more than others, of course. We recently completed 2 days of Covey’s 7 Habits training in which we started out the session with a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) survey. I was anxious to get mine back as I had taken it ten years prior and wanted to see if anything changed. I know what you are thinking: What is your result? Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Ten years ago, I was an ENTJ. Now I have changed slightly to an ENTP. If you know me, that is a good thing! Next, you maybe asking, what are all the letters about? I will get to that in a moment. The important thing, anyways, is not what your orientation is; it is “understanding” what it is. This enables you to work to your strengths and learn to adapt yourself in areas that you may need to temper or adjust in certain circumstances. There are no right or wrong answers, just enlightenment.
The most effective way I have seen these tests deployed is when you do it with your team. I have worked in several companies now where we have surveyed the whole group and had a facilitator come in and explain the results to each of us and coach the group on how to effectively communicate and adapt our styles to work better with one another. I have to say, this was very powerful. The lights go on in your head when you understand how others prefer to be communicated with, and what is important to them. There have been individuals that I never worked well with that I finally understood why and learned how to change my approach to meet their needs as well as mine. The results end up being a healthier, happier team. And, we all know that happy teams are productive teams.
So, first, I am no expert on Myers-Briggs, but here is what the letters stand for:
There are 16 combinations that an individual can score. And, there are varying degrees on either side of the main four categories. One thing I recently learned is that as you age, you tend to fall more in the middle of the main categories. This is a good thing as we learn and adapt our styles. We each have all the type dichotomies within us, although some are more pronounced than others. The key is to adjust and adapt based on the individual you are communicating with. As you pay more attention, you can begin to learn an individual’s preferences.
There is a lot more information behind the letters. If you find this interesting, I encourage you to do some research or contact us, and we’ll connect you with a coach who is trained in the methodology.
Some of the other survey instruments I have used in the past with good results are DISC, 16 PF, Trimetrix, and McQuaig. There are many more out there and a lot that are specialized. I have used some of the sales surveys that Dave Kurlan at Objective Management Group puts together. I have also taken surveys that measure emotional intelligence, job preferences, left brain-right brain, and the list goes on.
Regardless of which instrument you use, I encourage you to engage your team and begin the journey to understanding yourself and each other. It is a lot of fun and very enlightening.
I pull my stack of surveys out at least once a year to review them and remind myself of my strengths and areas I need to be aware of and work on.
Good luck as you grow, Alan