Myers-Briggs (MBTI®) – Cracking the Code

I will admit that when I first came across the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI® nearly 20 years ago I was a real skeptic.  Having answered the online questionnaire and received my report (which accurately described my personality preferences) I was left with “so what?”.  What I quickly came to realize is that the power of the MBTI is in it’s ability to promote understanding, to provide a common language and framework that helps us to understand ourselves and how we interact with others. An understanding of type will help you to identify how and when to flex your personal style and preferences to more effectively communicate, collaborate and problem-solve (among others) with others.

Today I am a certified MBTI practitioner and an avid proponent of the MBTI and the suite of tools that it provides.  During the last 20 years I have debriefed over 1,000 MBTI results with individuals during their executive coaching programs, with teams during our high performing team workshops, and with managers and leaders as part of their development programs.  I have had the opportunity to use the MBTI with leaders and individuals on four continents; Europe, Asia, North and South America, and each time participants have found invaluable insights that have improved their individual effectiveness.

What follows over the next few weeks is a summary of MBTI, the sixteen types, and a brief insight as to how this may impact you in the workplace, as well as answers to the common questions I am asked about MBTI, type and it’s implications and applications in the workplace.

Feel free to email me if you have specific questions you would like to have answered.

An Introduction to Type and MBTI®

The MBTI was originally developed by and American mother & daughter team Myers & Briggs.  They intent was to ‘translate’ the academic research of Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung into language that could be understood and used by everyone.  Over the years it continues to be revised and retested to ensure that the language and phrasing of the questions matches modern language.  It has high validity and reliability (it does what it says it does and will do so consistently).  It is available in over 21 languages with millions completing the tool annually.

  • All people have personality preferences
  • One personality preference is no better than another
  • You can learn to use a non-preferred personality style if you need to
  • Understanding these personality preferences will not tell you everything you need to about managing personalities on your team but will give you clues as to how to flex your style to better meet the needs of others.

MBTI looks at four different dichotomies or poles that contribute to your personality (I will describe these in more detail in my next post).

  • Gaining Energy: Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)

    • Differentiates people who direct their energy primarily outward toward other people and events from people who direct their energy primarily inward toward their inner environment, thoughts, and experiences
  • Processing Information: Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)

    • Differentiates people who take in information primarily through the five senses and immediate experience from people who take in information primarily through hunches and impressions and are more interested in future possibilities
  • Making Decisions: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)

    • Differentiates people who make decisions primarily based on logic and objectivity from people who make decisions primarily based on personal values and the effects their decisions will have on others
  • Controlling the World: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P):

    • Differentiates people who prefer structure, plans, and achieving closure quickly from those who prefer flexibility, spontaneity, and keeping their options open

What’s Your MBTI Personality Type?

We each use elements of all eight dichotomies, but have a personal preference for one in each of the four areas.  No preference pole is better or more desirable than it’s opposite however an understanding of this may help explain why, given a situation or a problem to solve, I may respond one way, and you another. Once your personal preference in each area is identified you have a code with four letters e.g. ENTP or ISTJ.

The 16 personality types of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® instrument are often shown in what is called a “type table.”

ISTJ

ISFJ

INFJ

INTJ

ISTP

ISFP

INFP

INTP

ESTP

ESFP

ENFP

ENTP

ESTJ

ESFJ

ENFJ

ENTJ

 

Over the next few weeks I will share more information on each of the sixteen types, and a brief insight as to how this may impact you in the workplace, as well as answers to the common questions I am asked about MBTI, type and it’s implications and applications in the workplace.

Please contact me if you have specific questions you would like to have answered or post your comments and questions below.

® MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Meyers Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries