First, thank you all again for your engagement and interest in the Myers Briggs Type Instrument (MBTI) at our recent BOG gathering in San Diego. As you likely know, there are a number of similar instruments that support leadership awareness and effective teamwork. The MBTI is a tool that surpasses a number of assessments in that there are observational elements from which to apply the knowledge after a learning session.
Typically, after I run a leadership session, people depart feeling engaged and excited to 'try a different style' when they return home. And, when I check-in a few months later, the outcomes tend to run consistent without intentional use. In other words, if not applied (even marginally), we revert back to normal state and neglect to grow beyond our comfort zone. It's in the flexing and agility that we find leaders going from good to great. The same holds true for how teams operate, collaborate and address decision-making together. Thus, I've expanded a bit to address MBTI and Decision Making. You will find a practical tool for use at the end of the article.
The spoiler alert here is that diversity of type is ideal within teams. However, diversity of type is not always realistic from industry to industry, or working group to working group. In the case of the BOG, you are comprised of diverse styles but the majority of folks fall into the ISTJ space. However, for purposes of applying the findings, it's important to break the data down a little bit further. When looking at the BOG*, we had a 25% return of ISTJ's. Time did not allow for me to address the 'ST' vs 'NF' temperament (two letters in the middle of each type), but those represent interesting features of this tool from a leadership perspective.
How We Gather Information
S = Sensing (gather information via facts and tradition. "I believe in "what IS")
N = Intuition (gather information via big picture thinking / blue sky. "I believe in "what could BE")
How We Make Decisions
T = Thinking (decisions made via data. "The facts will determine my decision")
F = Feeling (decisions made via impact on others. "The impact to those around me will determine my decision")
In this group*, we have ~50% that fall into the 'S' space. This means, half of the BOG group is gathering information (to ultimately make decisions) based on practical solutions and hard facts. Routine, tradition and history lead the way for these folks. That also means the other half of the BOG is gathering information based on big picture ideas / potential for future state. You can see the difference there and the impact when we work together and attempt to take a decision. 50% of the group is going to search for practical solutions with facts to support them, whereas, the other half of the group is going to think bigger / broader, with more of a visionary approach than a data driven approach. Both are equally important, but should be thoughtfully leveraged.
Now, when we move into the 'T'/'F' dichotomy, 70% of this leadership group is taking decisions based on data and objective logic, and 30% are taking decisions based on subjective elements such as the impact to another person, etc. This is significant. And, when you put those data points together, you can see that while 50% of the BOG group is ISTJ, the breakdown within the group is quite diverse with a leaning toward 'thinking' vs. 'feeling'. And, remember, this is the central dichotomy that focuses primarily on decision making.
Thus, when it comes to collaborating and decision making, the recommendation always comes down to leveraging the diversity to your benefit. Diversity of type is only as good as the effort we put into recognizing and harnessing those differences. Some of the best teams I've worked with have little in common beyond their day-to-day niche field, yet their innovative thinking / execution is enviable. And, here is the trick...it is called the "Z model" of decision making. Visually, it looks like a 'Z'. See here for the corresponding tool and supporting information.
In a nutshell, when you come together for your leadership meetings, you want to ensure equal type representation occurs in your discussions. You are only focusing on the S/N & T/F dichotomies for this purpose. Without getting into too much granularity, those dichotomies are considered our perception vs. judgment processes (not to be confused with the types themselves).
This is not a method of targeting anyone in a meeting, but it is a great way to ensure all bases are covered in order to reach your decisions collaboratively. Myers (of Myers Briggs) is quick to state: "Whenever you have a problem to solve, a decision to make, or a situation to deal with, try exercising each process by itselfconsciously and purposefully. That way each process can make its own contribution to the solution without interference from any other process. Start with your perceptive processes (sensing and intuition). Perception should always come before judgment." Thus, S → N → T → F
When you have a moment, take a look at the Z-model tool for practical application. The tool is a nice reminder of the questions to ask as you leverage the talent around the table. If/when you all use this tool, be sure to share with folks the 'why' behind why you are asking the questions in that formation. And, as always, please reach out if I can provide additional insight or guidance along the way.
* For purposes of this article, we are referencing BOG only, those that took the MBTI assessment for distribution at the ACC.15 session. This does not include Chapter Executive / Staff data.