Last week we talked about creatively adapting to a work environment that might not match our personality preferences (which you can read about here). This week, I want to talk about how, as a leader, we can adapt the work environment to include a variety of people. Being put in the position of being able to call the shots means coming face to face with an entirely new set of limitations: your own. And yet leaders carry the responsibility for every facet of a project’s completion. This is why a good leader needs to know who to include in their team. I want to share two tips I’ve learned through Myers Briggs training about forming and running a team.

Find Your Unicorn. Finding a person who is vitally different from you but makes a perfect work partner is a truly rare thing.. It feels a bit like finding a unicorn. There is something a bit magical about two individuals coming together and finding that their unique personality strengths are complemented by the other’s.

 A friend of mine who has helped launch many successful startups told me that the secret of his success came with his partnership. My friend is an ENFP who loves living in a world of wild ideas and possibilities. His partner is an INTJ who excels in developing those ideas and turning them into long-term strategies. The two wouldn’t necessarily hit it off at a party, but they discovered a rare combination of strengths that allowed them to do complete, excellent work while still operating out of their preferences. As my friend puts it, he found his unicorn.

We usually know our limits in terms of skills, say accounting or I.T. or scheduling, but we often miss or ignore our limits in terms of personality. In all partnerships, including marriage, Myers Briggs advocates for the complementary over the identical. It is easiest to pick those who immediately see eye to eye with us, but we miss an opportunity to challenge each other and make something truly great. Take some time, think about what you don’t bring to the table in terms of your preferences, and then find someone who does. It might be the start of a lasting partnership.

Use the Myers Briggs Decision Tool. A team is strongest when everyone can come together to produce one solid plan that reflects each individual and is more than any one person could have come up with on their own. This is not as easy as it sounds, though. In meetings, anything can happen. People can come away feeling ignored, misunderstood, patronized, or just plain overwhelmed by the flurry of ideas and opinions. Much of this has to do with personalities clashing instead of complementing. The use of Myers Briggs has lead to the development of a simple, practical tool that can bring balance to meetings where there is a diverse range of inputs represented. It is based around the four personality functions—Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling—and simply involves covering all your bases.

Use this tool as a pathway to guide your meetings and make sure everyone gets a chance to shine:

  1. What are the facts? People on the team who prefer Sensing have a good eye for details, facts, and everything as it is. They might feel overwhelmed by a session that only involves brainstorming possibilities. Take some time and state all the facts and important details of the situation. Remember that intuitive types can miss data that doesn’t fit their big ideas and end up making mistakes.
  2. What could this mean? Once you’ve covered the facts, it’s the time for insights and implications. Team members who prefer Intuition love to synthesize information and develop a unique perspective, or use it to generate possibilities and implications for that knowledge. These are your dreamers and vision casters. You don’t have to agree with every wacky idea that comes out, but remember that there is method to the madness.
  3. What are the consequences? Having generated your ideas and information, it’s time to start weeding down to the best option. Those who prefer Thinking can explore the logical results of making each possible decision and make a judgement call on whether they would be successful or not. Perhaps the most immediately exciting idea would end up being the most demanding, exhausting, and impractical in the long term. Thinkers help keep decisions grounded and businesses smart.
  4. Who will this affect? Having picked what plan to pursue, it’s now time to start thinking about the implementation. Those of us who prefer Feeling are attuned to how people will be affected. They can help a difficult decision be implemented with kindness and respect, and can point out blind spots where leaders are unknowingly treading on other’s toes. We believe that business is more than the bottom line. If you make a profit but only end up with enemies, you haven’t come out ahead. Feelers help businesses keep on track with the whole of their purpose.

I hope you have enjoyed this mini blog series. I’ll be popping up from time to time to write on different topics (Okay, mostly Myers Briggs), but in the meantime I encourage you to get to know your type and start living it out in wherever you’re placed. If you have any questions about Myers Briggs, email me at Gbenton15@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

Gary Benton is an INFJ and a certified Myers Briggs practitioner. To discover your type, visit http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. List your personality type in the comment section!

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