The Value of Understanding Your MBTI Personality Type —
When you think of a great leader, who comes to your mind? Is it someone selfless and value-driven like Nelson Mandela? Is it someone with exceptional charisma like German Chancellor Angela Merkel? Or maybe it’s someone brilliant and driven — but sometimes lacking in people skills — like Steve Jobs? We may think there is a definitive set of traits that make a great leader, but when we look back at history, we realize that few “great leaders” possessed the same leadership strengths.
The same lesson applies to developing your own leadership skills. Rather than trying to fit the mold of the “perfect leader,” each person needs to develop their own leadership style based on his or her particular strengths and challenges in leadership.
In this month’s Know How Network column, we’ll discuss the value of understanding your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality type to discover your unique strengths and challenges as a leader. Through this understanding, you’ll be well on your way to developing a leadership style that’s authentically You.
First, a quick summary of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®.
The MBTI is a personality self-assessment that describes your personality along 4 dimensions, resulting in 16 possible personality types. As the creators of the MBTI put it: The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.
At Cheetah Learning, we use MBTI personality types as a tool for understanding each student’s unique strengths in learning, negotiating, managing, and leading. You can find more information about taking the MBTI assessment on their website.
Once you know your MBTI type, you are in a good position to reflect on your own strengths and challenges as a leader. Take me, for example — I’m an ENTP. This stands for: Extraversion, Intuiting, Thinking, and Perceiving. I’m outgoing, bold, visionary, daring, and — at times — a bit disorganized. So, what does all this mean for my skills as a leader?
STRENGTHS: As an ENTP, some of my likely natural strengths are:
Confidence in your abilities and excellent communications skills that enables you to communicate with enthusiasm and persuasiveness. Inspiring others to want to follow your lead or be part of your team, and a rare ability to speak extemporaneously on many subjects.
A talent for seeing possibilities, a facility to think outside-the-box, and a belief that all problems can be solved.
High energy and variety of interests
Tremendous energy for projects you are intrigued by, a wide range of interests, and the ability to work well with different types of people.
Detecting flaws in logic
An ability to analyze issues logically and dispassionately, and to persuasively point out flaws in logic. Unusual skill at playing The Devil’s Advocate.
The result of an accumulation of knowledge about a wide range of subjects that allows you to bring a breadth of experience to discussions.
A can-do, where-there’s-a-will,-there’s-a-way attitude that enables you to use your creativity to secure information or resources that you or your people need.
Adaptability and flexibility
The ability to shift gears easily and change directions quickly, as well as to juggle several projects at the same time.
CHALLENGES: At the same time, ENTPs likely will confront some challenges in leadership, such as:
Self-discipline and following through.
Being realistic and attentive to facts and details.
Promising more than delivered.
Being overly confident.
Rather than thinking about how to be the “perfect leader,” think about what unique strengths YOU bring to a leadership role, recognize what challenges you may face, and develop a plan for mitigating these challenges.
As an ENTP, for instance, I often get carried away with “big ideas” and get bored by the menial tasks needed to get projects “done.” One strategy I’ve developed to deal with this is to consult with others who are more realistic, “grounded,” and naturally attentive to facts and details to provide me some balance. My natural charisma and extraversion make it easy for me to reach out to others and get them energized to do this work.
By knowing your own strengths and challenges as a leader, you can cultivate a leadership style that works best for you.
For more information about MBTI, please visit http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/take-the-mbti-instrument/home.htm?bhcp=1.