“Know thyself.  Every heart vibrates to this iron string.”   ~ Socrates

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is a self-reported assessment which seeks to identify certain personality characteristics.  The MBTI is based on the psychological theory of Dr. Carl G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist.  He identified important roles in people’s communication styles, how they would perform and motivators in their preferred work environments, and how they chose to interact with others on the job Dr. Jung’s theory was turned into an instrument by Isabel Briggs-Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  The MBTI offers a practical description of the characteristics that people bring to work, and studies have determined that people worked best when they were able to operate out of their personal preferences.  They felt more comfortable and more competent.

The Myers-Briggs team compared these personality preferences to hand-writing in their explanation of preferences.  If you are naturally right-handed and break that hand, you are forced to learn to use the left.  Using your right feels easy and natural, but if you are forced to use the left, it requires more concentration and effort, and you still may not get a comparable resultIn the work environment, we look for personality traits which suit the tasks, the energy, and effort required to do it, and how the person feels about how their personal talents are being used.  Of course, we have all been in positions which were not our preferred job and learned the skills and tasks required anyway.  However, when we find the spot that really works for us, we perform better, enjoy it more, and contribute to the overall goal or vision of the organization.  Helping people to better understand themselves in the work environment naturally has benefits in their personal lives as well.  I can easily relate to this because I inherited my father’s left-handedness but was taught to write with my right hand.  As an athlete, I would throw or shoot left-handed much more successfully than with the right.  Physically, I finally accepted that my preference was for left-handedness.


MBTI defines four dichotomies that result in 16 Personality Types created from combining preferences. Let’s take a look at the identified preferences in the MBTI:


  • Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I) describes how people direct their energy and attention
  • Sensing (S) or Intuition (N) explains how people take in information
  • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) describes how people process information and reach decisions
  • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) explains how people structure their environment to complete tasks and achieve their goals

Understanding these preferences can assist the individual and their manager in better understanding how each person can uniquely contribute to the team, such as the willingness to take on a leadership role, troubleshoot and problem-solve, or approach situations with empathy and compassion. My colleague, Jennifer Wilson shared her musings on the subject of personality and job performance in her blog, You Are Who You Are. But Does That Let You Off the Hook On Job Performance? that may provide you with some additional thoughts about understanding how personality preferences can set up individuals and organizations for more success.

When leaders invest in learning about personality preferences, they can better structure their teams and match specific skills and preferences to job functions and results. Developing an understanding of people’s preferences also allows leaders to:

  1. Identify team members’ strengths, so they can maximize their performance e
  2. Coach more effectively in times of stress and change or when delivering feedback
  3. Offer effective support that fits team members’ professional and personal needs
  4. Assist in creating an engaging atmosphere in which everyone feels that they can succeed.

Considering the amount of time that we all put into our work life, it really does make a difference if people feel that their strengths are being maximized and the business is benefiting as a result. When people experience their talents are being developed at work and they are valuable to the outcome, they are willing to give more and share their feelings with others. They become excellent recruiters for talented staff - a built-in ad that you don’t have to purchase. When people know themselves better and understand the people that they work with better, too, everyone thrives.

These are a few examples of how the MBTI or other personality assessments can help with overall planning, administration, growth, and leadership of your firm.  Essentially, the team member who knows his or her own strengths and weaknesses and is comfortable with this understanding is better able to make a positive contribution to the overall success of the firm.

With Warm Regards,