Discover Yourself (MBTI): Who Are You?

The journey to becoming an effective leader and consummate professional begins with understanding yourself. This awareness of who you are – your strengths and weaknesses, preferences and blind spots, etc. – is necessary to provide the insight for building a successful career and achieving professional and personal fulfilment.

To understand who you are, it is best to use tried and tested psychometric tools (personality tests) that provide a simple structure, easy to understand vocabulary and practical recommendations for developing yourself. There are a number of psychometric tools available, and one of the most popular is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

The MBTI is one of the most widely used psychometric tools globally, because it is simple to understand and can be applied in a wide range of situations. It is based on the theory of personality type developed by Carl Jung (a 20thcentury Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist), which was then further developed by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. For over 70 years, the tool has been effectively applied by individuals and organizations for improving core business competencies such as Leadership Development, 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!

For those that are not ambidextrous, you would describe the first half of the exercise as being “easy”, “natural”, “straight forward” 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”, “straight forward” 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 vein, there are certain actions that you carry out every day –taking in information, making decisions, energizing yourself and tackling 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 presents you with 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 your personal 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),

•perceive or deliver information (Sensing v. INtuition),

•make decisions (Thinking v. Feeling) and

•live your life 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 professional and as a leader. 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.

It is important to note that for each Dichotomy, we all use both sides, but we each have a preference for one. In addition, there is no “wrong” preference and no “better” preference. All 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 position to excel with your natural strengths, avoid “blindspots” that could arise from your specific preferences and understand how best to develop yourself.

Tosin Okojie

CEO, Total Ascent (www.total-ascent.com)

Phone: 08056001516

Email: tosin@total-ascent.com

Follow me: @OkojieTosin

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 organizations and individuals in enhancing such competencies as Communication, Team Dynamics, Decision Making, Leadership Development and Personal Effectiveness, towards “building leadership at all levels”.

Note: The MBTI Tool should only be administered by a Certified MBTI Practitioner