Understanding the MBTI – Personality Preference

The Leader’s role is to set the climate for others to perform and be at their best. It can be easy to connect with those that think similarly to you, however, when there are differences, how do we harness those differences without judging them? If the leader can harness the best from all styles, then there is huge advantages in terms of creative thinking and inclusivity. Put simply, we can all be different and yet by appreciating those differences, can bring about a team with different approaches that achieve great things. In this blog we will explore how MBTI personality preference can be a useful framework for the leader to get the best from the team. 

At an individual level understanding our personality preference doesn’t box us in to one preference – it means we can try out alternative approaches that may not be our most comfortable, and yet over time we can flex our style to suit the needs of the project, people and work we do. Personality preference provides us with greater awareness about ourselves and others such that we can understand and appreciate people’s different styles.

More about MBTI – Personality Preference

When we start to understand personality preference, it provides the leader with an incredible awareness about the individuals in the team, as well as the team in its entirety. Remember that personality preference is not good, bad, right or wrong. It does not mean that someone can’t use the other preferences very well, it is just where they are most comfortable. 

Introversion and Extroversion

In the Myers Briggs Type Indicator personality questionnaire (MBTI), personality preference of introversion and extroversion is about where you get your energy from. Do you get your energy from interacting with others, i.e. extroversion, or from reflecting on your own ideas internally? These are clues as to which preference you have. 

For Example: The introverted thinker may think quietly, i.e., to themselves and then share their thoughts once they are fully thought through. An extroverted thinker may share more of their thoughts out loud in addition to their final conclusion. 

Leader Hints and Tips for Introversion and Extroversion

  • Set a climate where there is space for both conversation as well as reflection. Be okay with ideas that are not fully formed yet when an extrovert speaks, as well as being okay with an introvert coming back to you once they have reflected further.
  • In meetings, encourage contributions from everyone, not just those that naturally speak. Some people may need to be asked for their view rather than offering it. 
  • Be prepared to withhold judgment when someone speaks as they may still be processing out loud and may change their viewpoint and ideas.

How you take in information

If you take in information using your five senses and using the concrete facts then you are most likely a sensing preference using MBTI. If you take in information by seeing the bigger picture and making patterns of it then you are likely to be an intuition preference using MBTI. Again, both have their merits as sensing preference notice the current reality, the facts and observe and build carefully towards conclusions. Intuition preference brings the future possibilities to the table, focusing on the meaning and patterns within the data. 

How you come to conclusions

Some of us have a preference to base our decision making on the facts, and examine the pros and cons objectively, whilst others have a preference to make decisions based on what’s important to them and to others involved. In Myers Briggs Type Indicator this is described as a thinking preference and a feeling preference. 

  • Are you guided primarily by your personal and social values?
  • Do you strive for harmony in relationships?
  • Do others see you as empathetic?

If the answer is yes, then this may be a preference towards feeling in MBTI. 

  • Do you enjoy basing decisions on the analysis?
  • Do you solve problems using logic?
  • Would others see you as tough minded?

If the answer is yes, then this may be a preference towards thinking in MBTI. 

For Example: The leader was making large organisational changes to the function. In doing so he bought his leadership team together to work out the communication plan. He noticed that some of the group wanted to provide a town hall style approach to the communication – they said this was time efficient, spreading the message widely and quickly to the target audience. Their message was clear, brief and to the point. This had its advantages and the leader appreciated the approach. He also noticed some of the other members of the leadership team were concerned that this approach wasn’t tailored enough to the individual – they recommended having 1:1’s, giving people time to ask their own questions and encouraged the communication plan to be tailored to the individual. Both approaches were useful as blending both feeling and thinking approaches to decision making, meant that the communications plan had a mix of approaches that suited the people in the function as a whole, not just one preference. 

Planned vs Spontaneous

This preference in Myers Briggs type indicator is how you approach life – do you prefer to plan and schedule and enjoy organising, or do you approach life with a flexible, open-ended spontaneous approach? Both have benefits and challenges, so again neither is right or wrong. 

Questions to consider about yourself and your team

  • Do you enjoy having space in the diary? 
  • Do you prefer to leave things open-ended?
  • Do you enjoy planning your diary so that it is organised and structured?
  • Do you enjoy the last minute approach to life?

For  Example: A leader described that he liked to keep team meetings flexible – this meant that he didn’t issue an agenda and instead ran it more as an open forum. He noticed that some of the team really engaged in this format, enjoying the flexibility it bought. Others in the team asked if he could share some of the key agenda items in advance. The leader recognised that personality preference was at play here, and instead of being frustrated by the feedback, he was able to balance the needs of both those with a planned preference and those who enjoyed the more spontaneous approach to the meetings. In bringing both together, the meetings had a good mix of structure and spontaneity that worked for them all. 

In Conclusion

In summary, using a MBTI – personality preference questionnaire can build self-awareness at an individual and team level. When used well the questionnaire can help inform why we act the way we do and why others are different to us. At its best we can harness the preferences across the team to bring about innovation, creativity and different ways of thinking. It also provides a common language for the team to speak about themselves.

I wonder what you have taken from this blog? If you would like to know more about how coaching and personality questionnaires can support you or your team, please get in touch to arrange a no obligation initial consultation.

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