Managing a diverse team of people takes a lot. One of the most important things is the ability to adapt to and leverage different personality types. You need to be able to understand your personality type and the people around you to be able to develop a high-performing team. There are a variety of personality type indicators out there, but the one I like the most is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). There are four letters that make up this indicator.
The first letter is either an I for Introvert or an E for Extrovert.
Introverts process information in private. If an idea is presented in a public forum, an introvert will need to process this information after the public presentation is completed. Introverts are often good listeners and are not uncomfortable at all with silent spaces in conversations. Introverts will become drained in public settings that require a lot of interaction with other people. Introverts get charged up when they are processing information in private.
Extroverts process information out loud. Extroverts will think out loud in a group and will often speak without having fully formed ideas in order to hear how others can contribute to their idea. Extroverts will quickly introduce themselves in social settings and are eager to meet new people. An extrovert will go nuts in a home office with no phone conversations or personal interaction. Extroverts get charged up when they have a high-energy public event that allows them to meet new people and talk.
Interaction: If you are an extrovert and are interacting with an introvert, you need to force yourself to allow uncomfortable pauses after you ask a question. You will be impressed with the results if you do. If you are an introvert interacting with an extrovert, be assertive. They do expect you to interrupt when you have something to say.
The second letter is either an N for Intuitive or an S for Sensate.
Intuitive are big picture people. They look at patterns and are amazing at predicting the future based on repeating patterns. Intuitive people often cannot explain why they make the decisions they make, but they have great gut instincts about making sound decisions. Intuitive people rarely fall into the problem of analysis-paralysis. Intuitive people are very good at reacting quickly with little data or substance.
Sensate or Sensing people tend to be great at analyzing data. They can process tons of data and will provide amazing detail when asked a question. Sensing people will make sure that you never miss a checklist item in a process; and will ensure they have every detail they need in order to make an informed decision. Sensates will be frustrated with people who gloss over details, and will thrive in seeking out details.
Interaction: If you are an Intuitive and are interacting with a Sensate, you need to be sensitive to the idea that the Sensate needs to know detail before they are satisfied with your approach. If you don’t have the details, which you probably won’t, it is a good idea to use the Sensate to gather the details to support your idea. If you are a Sensate and are interacting with an Intuitive, you cannot bury the Intuitive with data. You need to summarize what your data means in a concise manner. Intuitives will still want to know why you have arrived at your assumption, but they don’t want to know every detail.
The second letter is either a T for Thinking or an F for Feeling.
Thinkers make decisions based on the facts. They will process information and make a decision that is supported by known criteria. If a thinker has to make a hiring or firing decision with an employee, they will weigh the pros and cons of such decisions. They will often be objective when creating the pros and cons and will most likely develop some sort of weighting system to make sure their decision is correct.
Feelers make decisions based on human emotion. They will process the feelings of the people involved in a decision. They are very sensitive to how people will be affected by their decision. If a person will be hurt as a result of their decision, it is very difficult for Feelers to act in that way. If a Feeler has to make a hiring or firing decision with an employee, they will be excited for a person they hire, while they will feel sad for people they will either need to fire; or people who do not get a job offer.
Interaction: If you are a thinker interacting with a feeler, you need to force yourself to be sensitive. You will need to ask people how they are feeling. Feelings ARE important and you need to believe it. If you are a feeler interacting with a thinker, you need to force yourself to value a bigger picture in decisions. In cases where it is the right decision to let an employee go in your company, feelers will normally focus on the near term pain without understanding the long term benefit to a larger group of people.
The second letter is either a J for Judging or an P for Perceiving.
Judgers love to plan things out and are very punctual with their time commitments. A judger will create budgets, schedules, organization plans, business plans, forecasts and will be great at measuring how well they are achieving their goals. Judgers get extremely frustrated when someone is late to a meeting; or fails to plan future events in relative detail.
Perceivers like to keep their options open. They are extremely good at impromptu events where they have to do something without prior notice or preparation. They often don’t understand why people are so uptight about rules, deadlines and plans. Perceivers don’t need rigid rules or plans and feel restricted when someone imposes such controls on them.
Interaction: If you are a Judger interacting with a Perceiver, ease up. You need to be able to communicate why you need a plan or schedule and how it will help a team work better together. It may even be necessary to point out past missed deadlines that happened as a result of not planning to reinforce why you insist on a plan of action; and why certain tasks should not be done at the last-minute. If you are a Perceiver interacting with a Judger, you need to show respect for organization. We all miss deadlines on occasion, but you need to communicate why you understand that planning and deadlines are important for team success.
Which Personality is Best?
As you may have guessed, each personality profile letter has its advantages and disadvantages and so there is no good or bad personality type. The key is to recognize the advantages and leverage those advantages in people with personality types that are opposite of your own.
Are you One or the Other?
Like most things in life, it is rare that a person is 100% of one type or the other. Often times people have either learned to be balanced; or do not naturally move far to one side or the other in any one of these Myers-Briggs personality types. For instance, you can be an Introvert in some situations and an Extrovert in other situations resulting in a combination personality type. Or you can favor one personality trait, but still value its opposite meaning you will not be extreme in your favored type.
Personal Preferences vs Diversity
It is normal to recognize your own personality types in other people. Most business owners and managers tend to hire people who are like themselves. Unfortunately, this makes for very poorly operating teams. Imagine you are a quarterback. What if you hired ten more quarterbacks to make up your offense on your football team? You would have a team that could not run the ball, couldn’t catch passes and would be lousy at blocking. Most football fans understand an offensive right tackle has much different skills than a quarterback, and the combination of these two diverse talents is needed to form a high-performing football team.
As a business manager, you need people around you that are not like you. You need different personality types that will like doing work you hate to do. If you develop the skills to manage a diverse team well, and educate your team on the advantages of different personality types, you will be amazed at how well you will succeed.
Your Myers Briggs Personality Type
If you’d like to know your Myers Briggs personality type, you can take a free simple test online. I also recommend you have others you work with or live with do the same. It is interesting to know your personality type and how extreme you are in each personality category. This will help you interact with others to provide you a harmonious work and home life.
If you’d like to learn more about Myers-Briggs Personality Types, please click here.
Note from the Author
My name is Jeff Schuster. I am a certified Life and Business Coach serving small business owners, corporate executives and others who want to transition from “expert” to “entrepreneur”. I have been a small business owner for most of my 30-years in the workplace. I grew an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and construction company from nothing to over $10-million/year and sold it in 2013. I now help other business owners make amazing progress toward their own dreams of business ownership independence and success.