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What the heck is MBTI® anyway?

Helping you get MORE out of your team

Many of you would have heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® or MBTI®.  But what is it really and what does it do?

The MBTI® instrument is the world’s most widely used personality instrument. It consists of a questionnaire and workshop designed to make psychological types understandable and useful in everyday life.  It was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, who both spent years studying Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. Both were highly educated college graduates who employed the scientific method in creating the assessment.

The MBTI® assessment is backed up by 75 years of research and continues to be refined and updated. The assessment also has considerable evidence for its reliability and validity.  Its power lies in the results describing valuable differences between normal, healthy people – differences that can be the source of much misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The MBTI® assessment builds an understanding of strengths and blind spots. It also helps people understand how they might differ from one another. It is valuable for individuals and teams as they tackle such challenges as communication, handling conflict, managing change, making decisions, being a leader, or changing careers.

The Myers-Briggs® assessment is far more than just a personality questionnaire. Its benefits include:

  • A common language for understanding and describing the interpersonal differences that define us as individuals
  • An easy-to-understand but sophisticated way of understanding how people are similar and how they are different
  • Memorable and inspiring insights that help people understand challenging relationships
  • A positive view of all personalities, which avoids defensiveness and invites people to make genuine and lasting changes to their behaviour

The MBTI® framework is designed specifically for individual growth and development. As such, the assessment and interpretation process provide an opportunity for personal exploration that is difficult to achieve with other assessments.

Some of the most common applications of MBTI® knowledge are:

Team development

The basic MBTI® model is simple and easy to understand, which makes it an ideal tool for understanding other people. This understanding is the foundation of successful team development. The MBTI® assessment can help team members effectively communicate, handle conflict, manage change, and make decisions.

Leadership development

Leaders need a broad range of abilities and skills, but a good level of self-awareness is essential if a manager is to make good use of these capabilities, as is a framework for understanding other people. The MBTI® assessment is an extremely useful tool in helping leaders achieve this awareness and is widely used by organisations and independent coaches in leadership development.

Communication and influencing

We each have a preferred communication style, a way in which we like to be communicated to, and which we are more likely to find persuasive. We tend to use this same preferred approach when communicating to others. The MBTI® assessment can help us identify our preferred style, giving us the ability to flex and change our approach in order to communicate more effectively (and more persuasively) with those of a different personality type.

Conflict management

The MBTI® assessment shows what we tend to focus on and how we respond to conflict. By understanding how people of the 16 different personality types (including ourselves) typically behave in these situations, we can approach conflict in a more productive way and resolve conflict more effectively.

Coping with stress

The MBTI® assessment can help people see what their stress triggers are and show them how to avoid or ameliorate the effects of these triggers. It also describes one’s likely reaction to everyday stress and to more extreme situations in which individuals may behave in atypical ways. Knowing this information allows them to recognise this reaction and take action to prevent things escalating further.

Career development

The MBTI® assessment can help individuals understand how their personality preferences relate to their chosen career, how development as an individual may inform career development, and how best to apply one’s natural gifts to career choices.

Career orientation and exploration

For those leaving school or university, and those considering a change of career, many factors need to be considered, such as one’s abilities, qualification, interests, and personal and family needs. Personality also plays a role. The MBTI® assessment can help individuals see what jobs people with their personality type typically gravitate to, and what aspects of their personality would be more or less useful in their chosen career.

Keen to explore how MBTI might help out with your team? Get in touch and let’s chat!