The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Overview and Background

Organizations and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

When work is meaningful and satisfying, people will strive to perform well. When work is threatening, and unreasonable or filled with conflict, people will focus on surviving in their current situation or will look for new opportunities elsewhere; quality, productivity, and dissatisfied customers will pay the price. Finding ways to improve communication both inside and outside the organization can have a significant impact on the success of the organization and its people. One of the most important tools for creating major positive payoffs is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) – the best known and most widely used instrument for assessing individual personality preferences.

Using the MBTI in a group setting helps individuals clarify their own personality characteristics as well as those of other team members. The results assist in improving understanding, trust, and communications among group members. As an individual, the MBTI helps you develop clarity about your own preferences, as well as better understand other people. The MBTI also:

 

  • Provides a logical model for understanding human behavior
  • Builds an objective framework for examining and reducing unproductive conflict
  • Helps restore vitality and reduce stress by increased acceptance of other people
  • Assists people in valuing their own unique contributions
  • Builds understanding of organizational norms and culture
  • Emphasizes the value of differences within the group
  • Identifies strengths and blind spots of teams/organizations
  • Enhances problem-solving and project management processes

The MBTI is used in a wide variety of organizations — from small partnerships to large Fortune 500 companies, as well as educational, governmental, medical, and religious organizations. It has been translated into Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Chinese, Malay, Swedish, and Spanish. Wherever it is used, the MBTI helps people become aware of their personality preferences and how these preferences may affect their approach to work and to the individuals around them.

The MBTI is based upon a significant body of research spanning the past six decades. The MBTI looks at eight personality preferences that all people use at different times. These eight preferences are organized into four groupings. When a person completes the MBTI the four preferences they identify as most like them are combined into what is called a “type.” The MBTI describes preferences, not skills or abilities. All preferences are equally important; there are no “right” or “wrong” – no “good” or “bad” preferences or types.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is based upon the extensive and highly influential work of Carl Gustav Jung (1921-1971) and makes his theory of psychological type understandable and useful in people's lives. The essence of Jung's theory is that much of what at first appears to be random variations in the behaviors of people is actually quite consistent and orderly. These patterns of behavior are primarily due to basic differences in how individuals become aware of the world around them and then proceed to draw conclusions about that awareness.

The eight preferences used in the Myers-Briggs are grouped as follows:

 

  • Extravert/Introvert — How a person interacts with others and is stimulated
  • Sensing/Intuition — How a person prefers to gather information
  • Thinking/Feeling — How a person prefers to make decisions
  • Judgment/Perception — How a person prefers to orient their life

The MBTI can help reduce unproductive, interpersonal and intra-organizational conflict. Project and unit members can assess the strengths and blind spots of their team in a non-judgmental, non-threatening way. Individuals can use the MBTI to evaluate the “fit” between themselves and their jobs. The MBTI is a valuable resource in training programs where it helps to build an understanding of the organization's norms and culture. Because it is quick to administer, professionally interpreted, and well researched, the MBTI can generate a host of reliable information for personal and organizational growth and development.