Years ago a former boss walked into my office and said, “I just got my assessment results and my feelings score in zero. Should I worry about that?” He was talking about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and he came to me since I previously worked in HR/OD and used the MBTI assessment often.
What was I to do? My boss who was not a bad guy was concerned about his assessment score and what he thought showed that he had no feelings. While I could have had fun with him, I did the right thing and assured him that there was no issue at all. The MBTI measures psychological preferences on how people perceive the world around them and make decisions. Someone with a low “Feeling” score still has feelings, but they generally have a preference to make decisions based on “Thinking”. This thinking approach can be more detached and logical and works to decide using established rules.
I am not here to detail the MBTI assessment tool and the research behind it (goes back to Carl Jung). I invite you to read more if you so wish (see link above). For this post today though I want to focus on that interaction with my old boss and some lessons for leaders.
First as leaders we need to recognize that there is a range of personalities with people. MBTI and other like assessments work to give us a framework and common language for us to talk about our differences and similarities.
There is no right personality type for leadership or any position. All types are equal. The research is clear that we can not use such assessments to predict job success. My MBTI type is very different from other leaders I have worked with and all of us are successful.
A good mix of different types while challenging is best for a team. Different view points and focus is key for any work team. The “creative tension” found with different types discussing an issue can and really should lead to better thought-out decisions.
A common language is always a good thing including our personality types. MBTI and other like assessments give us that common language. I caution folks though to assure you get a qualified facilitator to help interpret the results and put it into context of your team of folks (each with own type). This common language can lead to a deeper understanding of the strength of the team and how to use the best of all involved.
Who am I on the MBTI preference scale? Ah maybe full disclosure at a later date, but for now my feeling score is very high and yea, my thinking score is much lower. As such that interaction with my boss years ago worked out well. He was genuine in his curiosity and he respected our different approaches to decision-making based on our preference for thinking or feeling respectively. The fun part was weeks later while we were dealing with a workplace issue, he looked over at me and said, “You are “F” ing me again”. Yes, I was and together we discussed the different facets of the issue and worked out a solution.