• Sunday, July 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Discover yourself: Do you know who you are?

businessday-icon

To be an effective leader or business professional knows, you must know who you are! This self-awareness (of your strengths, weaknesses, preferences, blind spots, etc.) is necessary to provide the insight you need to put yourself in the best position to build a successful career and achieve professional and personal fulfilment.

To help determine and understand who you are, psychometric tools (personality tests) provide a structured, easy to understand framework for defining your unique personality traits and helping you use this information to develop yourself. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most popular psychometric tools used globally and will be the focus of this article.

The MBTI is based on the theory of personality type developed by Carl Jung (a 20th century Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist), which was then further developed by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. The tool has been effectively used by individuals and organisations across the globe, for improving core business competencies like Leadership Development, Business Development (Sales), Team Building, Conflict Resolution, Communication and Decision-Making.

How the MBTI Works: Simple Activity – “All Hands On Deck”

To demonstrate how the MBTI assessment works, do this simple exercise:

Write your name on a blank sheet of paper; now switch your pen to the other hand and write your name again on the same sheet of paper.

Interesting, right!

Unless you’re ambidextrous, you would describe the first half of the exercise as being “easy”, “natural” or “smooth”. The second half of the exercise however, typically conjures up words such as “difficult”, “uncomfortable”, “stressful” and “awkward”.

What is interesting is that you are actually able to write out your name with either hand. One is “easy”, “natural” and “smooth” – this is your preference or preferred hand. The other is “difficult”, “uncomfortable”, “stressful” and “awkward” but can still be used if necessary.

In the same way, there are certain things you do every day – take in information, make decisions, communicate with others, motivate yourself and complete assigned tasks. In each case, you have a preference for how you typically would go about it. Just like writing your name, you can operate outside of your preference but like with your hands, this will be “difficult”, “uncomfortable”, “stressful” and “awkward”. What typically happens is that you will then unconsciously tend to your preference regardless of what a particular situation might require.

The MBTI Dichotomies

The MBTI helps uncover your preferences in four areas, called Dichotomies; so that you can better understand why you do the things you do the way you do them. This structure gives you an easy and straight-forward way to understand your strengths and potential “blind spots” (avoidable issues you would typically overlook because you tend to your preferences) and creates a framework for improving personal and team effectiveness, building stronger relationships and developing successfully as a leader.

Each of the four Dichotomies has a pair of opposite preferences (see below) that are indicative of your preference for how you: energize and get motivated (Extroversion v. Introversion), like to receive or deliver information (Sensing v. Intuition), make decisions (Thinking v. Feeling) and go about achieving goals (Judging v. Perceiving).

Four preferences—one from each pair—make up an individual’s personality type. This is indicated by the four letters that refer to each preference (note the letters in bold type above) e.g. ENTJ or ISTP. There are 16 different MBTI personality types in all.

Each personality type is unique and it is the combination of the four preferences that make you who you are. When you know your personality type, you can understand yourself and your preferences better, and then use this information to improve as a leader and as a professional. This insight can also help teams understand how they operate and how to leverage the individual and collective strengths of the members of the team to become more effective, more collaborative and more productive. With Business Partners and Customers, the insight is invaluable in building stronger relationships and facilitating the selling process.

We all use both sides of each of the Dichotomies, but we each have a preference for one. In addition, there is no “wrong” preference and no “better” preference. Both options in each pair are necessary and required to be successful – the MBTI simply provides a framework for understanding where you are so you can do three things: place yourself in positions to excel with your natural strengths, avoid “blind spots” that could arise from your specific preferences and understand how best to develop yourself.

Tosin Okojie

Tosin Okojie is a Leadership Development expert and Management Coach. He is a Certified MBTI Practitioner and has used the MBTI as a tool for assisting organisations and individuals in building and enhancing critical competencies such as Communication, Business Development (Sales), Team Building, Decision Making, Negotiation, Leadership Development and Personal Effectiveness. Email: [email protected]