Myers Briggs – Reflection

e1fac2b294cd2234f6db190a5bd6b262As with any personality-based assessment tool, Myers Briggs personality types are best interpreted by looking at how a particular score would interact with individuals with similar and opposing types.  In this reflective article I will consider some key traits of my Myers Briggs personality type before considering how I
will use my understanding of my assessment type in leadership situations.

Myers Briggs type – personal summary

My Myers Briggs personality type was Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging – ENTJ.  My initial reaction to my score was positive. I felt it was a fair reflection of my personality.  My extroversion tendency (3%) suggests that I show characteristics of both extroversion and introversion, with a slight tendency towards extroversion.  My scores for intuitive (12%), thinking (12%) and judging (22%) suggest these traits to be more established in my personality.

Key descriptors of extroverts are: energized by outer world, focus on things/people, active, and outgoing. I agree with these descriptors but I also agree that aspects of introversion (e.g., reflective, depth of interest) also fit my personality.  Intuition descriptors include people who: look for meanings and possibilities, make associations and, act on hunches or speculation.  This is an area of my assessment that I feel less connected with.  I feel that I am more comfortable dealing with concrete facts and data (sensing characteristics) and will consider this later in this paper.  Thinking characteristics center on applying logic, analysis, reasoning and being objective.  I agree with this assessment in my Myers Briggs type.  Finally, judging characteristics include goal-setting, a systematic approach, decisiveness, planning and organization.  This was a strong trait of my Myers Briggs type and probably the most interesting for me.  Characteristics of a perceiving type (spontaneity, flexibility, comfort with surprise) are areas that I have already set as goals for personal development. As I reflect on past experiences in work, I will begin with a focus on this trait.

Past experiences

In my middle leadership role working in education there was an expectation that I would effectively communicate change from the senior leadership group to colleagues in my team.  I often felt that the senior leaders struggled with strategic planning for the school and were more reactive to situations.  This resulted in strategies changing frequently and staff being unclear what was expected of them one week or month to the next.  On occasion staff who were not “up to speed” with the constant change would suffer in profession development appraisals and be left resenting the leadership team.  I found these situations to be most challenging.  I felt obligated to support senior leaders, but also equally responsible for ensuring my team members were not set up to fail by frequent change.  

My Myers Briggs type would suggest that I have a strong tendency toward planning and decisiveness.  Flexibility and change are not a strong trait in my type and on reflection I find this very interesting.  I was quick to apportion blame to senior leaders in my organization as, in my opinion, they were making too many changes, too quickly and the “feet on the ground” would find it impossible to keep up.  I made very little attempt to gauge exactly how my team members were coping and assumed that because I was feeling frustrated, they must have been also. With a better understanding of my judging predisposition I may have approached similar situations differently.  As I continue to develop my understanding of my Myers Briggs type, I wish to focus on becoming more comfortable with change and being more flexible to ensure I am less reactive in situations, particularly where frustration is being felt.

Strengths of ENTJ in management and leadership

Understanding your personality type can impact positively on team dynamics when considering management and leadership.  ENTJs can generally be described as decisive and can be relied upon to identify what needs to be done and, assign roles to their fellows.  In a leadership setting, this quality helps ensure that tasks are started, managed and, completed in a timely fashion.  ENTJs are not afraid to “pull the trigger” and team members are likely to respond positively to this direct approach.  When a team consists of hesitant members an ENTJ can initiate the first move of the team and ensure that the right people are assigned to the right tasks.  

ENTJs have a strong knack for debate and improvisation.  When discussing a course of action, ENTJs will provide opportunities for in-depth discussion of pros and cons, helping team members see alternative views and outcomes of choices.  They are able to quickly summarize multiple viewpoints and provide a course of action that is difficult to dispute.  In leadership, this approach ensures “buy in” from team members as decisions have be rationalized and work can take place unimpeded.

In dealing with conflict the thinking preference ensures that ENTJs are skilled in identifying the facts, analyzing and tolerating differences, maintaining a firm position and succinct deliver of outcomes. The Judging preference keeps the ENTJ focused future outcomes, on seeking resolution and ensuring satisfaction once the conflict occurs. Combined, these characteristics  show that during conflict ENTJ leaders can achieve quick resolution with a facts-based conclusion that can be difficult to challenge.  Thus, in an organization where quick change is needed an ENTJ leader may be preferable.

Weaknesses of ENTJ in management and leadership

ENTJs can be described as “larger than life” which makes it difficult for people to decline their offers or suggestions. This can team make dynamics difficult as members may openly agree with a course of action while harboring concerns.  This is likely to result in individual team members making calculated risks and selecting a modified course of action which will likely infuriate a ENTJ.   ENTJs must be acutely aware of this possibility and ensure that all concerns are aired before work begins to prevent passive aggression from team members.

ENTJs may struggle to maintain restraint and often consider their view the only one of value.  When challenged they can be quick to use their judging and extraversion to quash their challenger.  Such displays can have negative impact on the group forcing members to think twice before mounting a future challenge to ideas.  The responsible ENTJ should learn to keep their emotion in check to ensure healthy team dynamics.

Management interactions – ENTJ vs. ISFP

Although impossible to compare my personality type with all other Myers Briggs types in this paper, I would like to consider how interacting with 2 different types may occur in the workplace.  An Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ISFP) profile would be the polar opposite of my type and I will consider this type first.

The ISFPs introversion may be displayed as a preference to work individually or in small supportive groups.  The ENTJ would have to be careful to ensure that when forming teams an ISFP was placed in a team where they felt comfortable sharing ideas in a non-confrontational setting so that can maximize their potential.  The ENTJ has a strong questioning disposition and must learn to reign this in when working with ISFP to allow time for assimilation of new ideas.  

ISFPs are likely to focus on the “here-and-now” they are more comfortable in looking at the short-term impact of choices and lack the future, broader thinking of the ENTJ.  ISFP can be very powerful in recalling specifics (e.g., agreements in meetings or legal requirements).  ISFPs, however, are likely to keep an untidy workplace and leave tasks incomplete which exasperates ENTJ.  In a working relationship both types must learn to give each other space and to focus on outcomes rather than process.  Additionally, ENTJ will need to find the best language to communicate with ISFP without nagging to ensure work is completed as agreed.

Perhaps the biggest area for disagreement between these two types would be in verbal communication.  The ENTJ is more likely to inadvertently offend a ISFP resulting in hurt feelings.  In conflict situations both types must be more responsible and understand their impact on team members.  ISFPs will need to be more robust and understand that ENTJs are not (necessarily) being personal.  Similarly, the ENTJ should be careful not to dismiss opinions from ISFP outright and should take time to consider ideas fully before rebuttal.

Management interactions – ENTJ vs. ESTJ

In my personal summary I was surprised that I had a stronger intuition trait vs. sensing.  I wanted to briefly compare these 2 types.

As ENTJ and ESTJ share 3 traits it is unsurprising that they would likely get along well.  Specifically, they are both outgoing and like social interactions within a large network.  They are not easily offended and can openly disagree and understand each other’s point of view.  This allows them to make decisions quickly and move on the next challenge.  In a workplace they may be seen as close friends and difficult to separate.  Other team members may be hesitant in discussing one in front of the other through fear that what is discussed will be shared.  ENTJ and ESTJ would need to make a conscious effort to ensure that they integrate with others in the workplace.  

One area that these 2 types would experience conflict is around their views on how goals should be achieved.  ESTJ is likely to take a more methodical approach whereas ENTJ will act on hunches and worry about “fitting it all together” later.  The key here is that both types need to encourage each other to pursue their own method and take time to listen and support each other in reaching goals.

Incorporating Myers Briggs

“A knowledgeable, assertive leader must not only be available and properly trained in group dynamics, but must also be the type of person who can lead people who represent different functional areas and different levels of management. … These qualities suggest a person who is aware of the different personality types and how each type influences overall team performance.”

In considering how Myers Briggs assessments may influence my future leadership and management choices I will focus on how I can use differing personality types to form effective, accountable teams.  Specifically:

  1. Ensure that there is a balance of personality types within each team.  A balance of personality types within a team will encourage opposing views and simulate discussion leading to better outcomes overall.
  2. Ensure that the right jobs are assigned to the most effective types of people within that team. As well as a balance of personality types in a team, I will make sure to assign roles that are compatible with a person’s type.  For example, when identifying a leader for a team it will be important to identify an extravert personality, sensitive to the needs of all members, who is able to involve all team members while keeping the project on track.
  3. Assign a member (or members) of the team the role of evaluating progress towards goals.  Key to a team’s success is ensuring that it remains focused on the goal throughout.  Judgers and Perceivers are able to keep a team on track while ensuring that all options are considered before selecting the best course of action.

Concluding remarks

The Myers Briggs personality type can be a useful tool for personal reflection and workplace implementation.  Care should be taken in its use to ensure that individuals are comfortable with their assessed type and that conscious choices are made with respect to team dynamics.  As with all leadership strategies the Myers Briggs assessment should be evaluated frequently to ensure its effectiveness and appropriateness in an organization.

Citations

  1. “Jung Typology Test”. Accessed November 2016. http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality
  1. “ENTJ”. Accessed November 2016. http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality/entj
  1. “Myers Briggs Type Indicator Vocabulary”. https://docs.google.com/document/d/19uKfPk2BJK9vgJKL6gOC6PKIEyk6WQCja4VfGpw_3_w/pub
  1. “ENTJ”. Accessed November 2016. http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality/entj
  1. Ibid.
  1. Dale Eilerman. “Use of the Myers-Briggs Conflict Pairs in Assessing Conflict.”  May 2006. http://www.mediate.com/pfriendly.cfm?id=2071
  2. Ibid.
  1. “ENTJ”. Accessed November 2016. http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality/entj
  1. Ibid.
  1. John H. Bradley and Frederic J. Hebert, “The effect of personality type on team performance”, The Journal of Management Development, 16.5 (1997): 337-353.
  1. Adapted from Kroeger, Otto, Janet M. Thuesen, and Hile Rutledge.Type talk at work (revised): How the 16 personality types determine your success on the job. Delta, 2009.
  1. Ibid.
  1. Ibid.

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