Myers Briggs is a common test used in leadership training courses and it divides all people into one of sixteen groups based on their scores on 4 dimensions. There’s some controversy around it because it’s relatively easy to skew the results deliberately and the test doesn’t stand up to scientific examination. However, answered honestly, it seems to be fairly accurate.

Picture 13The dimensions are;

  • Introvert – Extrovert
  • Sensing – iNtuition
  • Thinking – Feeling
  • Judging – Perceiving

The combination of these four dimensions gives a grid of 16 possible profiles.

what is it

  • Introvert – Extrovert
    Extroverts favour action and introverts favour reflection in how they approach the world.
  • Sensing – iNtuition
    This dimension refers to how people collect information, “sensing” is a preference for collecting tangible factual information, “intuition” is a preference for getting an overview or a big picture
  • Thinking – Feeling
    If you make decisions based on assembling rational facts, you’ll score higher on thinking, if you use the impact on people as your decision making tool you’ll score higher on thinking.
  • Judging – Perceiving
    This dimension looks at how structured and defined you like your life, those wanting structure score higher on the ‘J’ scale, those who seek more flexibility and are more adaptable will score higher on Perceiving.

I’ve had some interesting discussions with people over the years who see this as unscientific and have a problem with putting people into boxes. There’s a lot of room within each box, and if you do the in depth analysis the test gets even more revealing. I’ve found it a useful tool for understanding myself, my strengths and my limitations.

For example; I score high on extroversion, if we’re in a group discussion I’ll throw in ideas right away. My introverted classmates on one leadership course explained to me that introverts can find this intimidating; they’re still reflecting on the question and they feel that my early suggestions might be more information to reflect on so they never get to their own ideas. I did explain that to me those ideas are an “opening bid” and I’m perfectly happy for them to be improved, dismissed, destroyed.

The invaluable mantra a classmate gave me was “save it to draft”, so now I note the idea down for myself and wait, encouraging the introverts to speak when they’re ready.

One other attitude that I’ve come across is the expectation that you will improve, but that implies that there is a ideal profile within Myers Briggs and the concept and tool do not contain such a judgement. There has been some research done looking at what profiles are common among successful people in certain roles, but it is not a prescriptive tool. It is more a tool for understanding how you work and how you might interact with others of different profiles.

As a personal learning tool Myers Briggs has been very useful and positive for me.

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