How to Decode Your Work Personality
Many companies use tools to evaluate potential employees for fit within their culture. Often times they use personality tests such as Birkman, the Disc, Myers Briggs. All of these have merit depending on what you are looking to discover about someone. Let's take a look at Myers Briggs as it is one of the oldest and best known.
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality diagnosis based on the work of Carl Jung. Leading business people use it to understand how they and the people around them prefer to work and collaborate. Particularly, you can use it to identify generally how certain people (including yourself) like to approach work situations. This system is not about “measuring” anyone—it is just designed to sort professional personality types.
Often the very first question people ask after completing our personality test is “What do these letters mean?” We are of course referring to those mysterious acronyms like INTJ-A, ENFP-T, or ESTJ-A. The five letters of these acronyms each refer to a specific trait, with certain trait combinations forming various types and type groups.
Types vs. Traits
Regardless of its structure, any type-based theory will struggle to describe or characterize people whose scores lie near the dividing line. A different way to look at personalities is through the lens of a trait-based rather than a type-based model. What do I mean by that? Instead of creating an arbitrary number of categories and attempting to fit people within them, a trait-based model simply studies the degree to which people exhibit certain traits.
A trait-based approach makes it easier to reliably measure correlations between personality traits and other characteristics – for example, political attitudes. This is why trait-based approaches dominate psychometric research, but that’s more or less the only area where these approaches are dominant. Because they don’t offer types or categorizations, trait-based theories don’t translate as well as type-based theories into specific recommendations and takeaways. Let us now go through our five personality aspects one by one, and then move on to the type groups.
Five Personality Aspects
Let’s now turn to the five personality aspects that, when combined, define the personality type: Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics and Identity. Each of these aspects should be seen as a two-sided continuum, with the “neutral” in the middle. The percentages you would have seen after completing the test are meant to show which categories you fall under and how strong your preferences are.
Let’s look at personality aspects one by one:
This aspect shows how we interact with our surroundings:
Introverted individuals prefer solitary activities and get exhausted by social interaction. They tend to be quite sensitive to external stimulation (e.g. sound, sight or smell) in general.
Extroverted individuals prefer group activities and get energized by social interaction. They tend to be more enthusiastic and more easily excited than introverts.
Energy is the second aspect which determines how we see the world and process information:
Observant individuals are highly practical, pragmatic and down-to-earth. They tend to have strong habits and focus on what is happening or has already happened.
Intuitive individuals are very imaginative, open-minded and curious. They prefer novelty over stability and focus on hidden meanings and future possibilities.
The third aspect is Nature Which determines how we make decisions and cope with emotions:
Thinking individuals focus on objectivity and rationality, prioritizing logic over emotions. They tend to hide their feelings and see efficiency as more important than cooperation.
Feeling individuals are sensitive and emotionally expressive. They are more empathic and less competitive than Thinking types, and focus on social harmony and cooperation.
Tactics is the fourth aspect which reflects our approach to work, planning and decision-making:
Judging individuals are decisive, thorough and highly organized. They value clarity, predictability and closure, preferring structure and planning to spontaneity.
Prospecting individuals are very good at improvising and spotting opportunities. They tend to be flexible, relaxed nonconformists who prefer keeping their options open.
Finally, the Identity aspect underpins all others, showing how confident we are in our abilities and decisions:
Assertive (-A) individuals are self-assured, even-tempered and resistant to stress. They refuse to worry too much and do not push themselves too hard when it comes to achieving goals.
Turbulent (-T) individuals are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. They are likely to experience a wide range of emotions and to be success-driven, perfectionist and eager to improve. So have you started to get an idea to where you stand personally?
Now you know what each type consists of. But how do they fit together?
There are two layers: the first one defines our Roles, the second one – our Strategies.
The Role layer determines our goals, interests and preferred activities. There are four roles:
Analysts (Intuitive and Thinking [ _NT_ ] types, both Assertive and Turbulent variants)
These personality types embrace rationality and impartiality, excelling in intellectual debates and scientific or technological fields. They are fiercely independent, open-minded, strong-willed and imaginative, approaching many things from a utilitarian perspective and being far more interested in what works than what satisfies everybody. These traits make Analysts excellent strategic thinkers, but also cause difficulties when it comes to social or romantic pursuits.
Diplomats (Intuitive and Feeling [ _NF_ ] types, both Assertive and Turbulent variants)
Diplomats focus on empathy and cooperation, shining in diplomacy and counselling. People belonging to this type group are cooperative and imaginative, often playing the role of harmonizers in their workplace or social circles. These traits make Diplomats warm, empathic and influential individuals, but also cause issues when there is a need to rely exclusively on cold rationality or make difficult decisions.
Sentinels (Observant and Judging [ _S_J ] types, both Assertive and Turbulent variants)
Sentinels are cooperative and highly practical, embracing and creating order, security and stability wherever they go. People belonging to one of these types tend to be hard working, meticulous and traditional, and excel in logistical or administrative fields, especially those that rely on clear hierarchies and rules. These personality types stick to their plans and do not shy away from difficult tasks – however, they can also be very inflexible and reluctant to accept different points of view.
Explorers (Observant and Prospecting [ _S_P ] types, both Assertive and Turbulent variants)
These types are the most spontaneous of all and they also share the ability to connect with their surroundings in a way that is beyond reach of other types. Explorers are utilitarian and practical, shining in situations that require quick reaction and ability to think on your feet. They are masters of tools and techniques, using them in many different ways – ranging from mastering physical tools to convincing other people. Unsurprisingly, these personality types are irreplaceable in crises, crafts and sales – however, their traits can also push them towards undertaking risky endeavors or focusing solely on sensual pleasures.
The Strategy layer shows our preferred ways of doing things and achieving goals. There are four strategies:
Confident Individualism (Introverted and Assertive [ I___-A ] types)
Confident Individualists prefer doing things alone, choosing to rely on their own skills and instincts as opposed to seeking contact with other people. They know what they are good at and have high self-confidence. These personality types firmly believe that personal responsibility and trust in yourself are very important values. Confident Individualists do not pay much attention to other people’s opinions and prefer to rely on themselves.
People Mastery (Extroverted and Assertive [ E___-A ] types)
People Masters seek social contact and tend to have very good communication skills, feeling at ease in social events or in situations where they need to rely on or direct other people. These types are confident in their abilities and do not hesitate to express their opinions. Playing an active role in the society and knowing what makes other people tick mean a lot for People Masters; however, they are not too concerned about what other people think about them.
Constant Improvement (Introverted and Turbulent [ I___-T ] types)
Constant Improvers are quiet, individualistic people. They tend to be perfectionistic and success-driven, often spending a lot of time and effort making sure that the result of their work is the best it can be. As their name says, Constant Improvers are high achieving individuals dedicated to their craft – however, they also tend to worry too much about their performance.
Social Engagement (Extroverted and Turbulent [ E___-T ] types)
The last strategy is adopted by sociable, energetic and success-driven types. Social Engagers tend to be restless, perfectionistic individuals, prone to experiencing both very positive and very negative emotions. Their curiosity and willingness to work hard also mean that they are usually high-achieving, even if quite sensitive people. Types favoring this strategy also tend to place a lot of importance on other people’s opinions; they value their social status and are eager to succeed in everything they do.
So now that we have looked at all the categories, I want to go through the sixteen personality types. Be on the look out to see if you can identify which one you are.
The ISTJ Personality - “LOGISTICIAN” – SENTINEL
The ISTJ personality is Reliable, Fact Minded and practical.
These people tend to be quiet and serious. They earn success by thoroughness and dependability. They tend to be practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, responsible and organized. The ISTJ personality type is thought to be the most abundant, making up around 13% of the population. Their defining characteristics of integrity, practical logic and tireless dedication to duty make ISTJs a vital core to many families, as well as organizations that uphold traditions, rules and standards, such as law offices, regulatory bodies and military. People with the ISTJ personality type enjoy taking responsibility for their actions, and take pride in the work they do – when working towards a goal, ISTJs hold back none of their time and energy completing each relevant task with accuracy and patience.
The ISFJ Personality “DEFENDER” – SENTINEL
Very dedicated and warm protectors, always ready to defend their loved ones.
These people tend to be quiet, friendly, considerate, responsible, and pretty steady in meeting their obligations. They also tend to be especially thorough and accurate in their work and strive to create an orderly and harmonious environment at work and at home. The ISFJ personality type is quite unique, as many of their qualities defy the definition of their individual traits. Though possessing the Feeling (F) trait, they have excellent analytical abilities; though Introverted (I), they have well-developed people skills and robust social relationships; and though they are a Judging (J) type, they are often receptive to change and new ideas. As with so many things, people with the ISFJ personality type are more than the sum of their parts, and it is the way they use these strengths that defines who they are.
The ISTP Personality “VIRTUOSO” -Explorer
Bold and practical experimenters, masters of all kinds of tools.
These people are tolerant and flexible, and tend to be quiet observers until a problem appears. When something does come up, they tend to act quickly to find workable solutions. They tend to excel at using data, research, and logic to get to the “core” of practical problems. ISTPs love to explore with their hands and their eyes, touching and examining the world around them with cool rationalism and spirited curiosity. People with this personality type are natural Makers, moving from project to project, building the useful and the superfluous for the fun of it, and learning from their environment as they go. Often mechanics and engineers, ISTPs find no greater joy than in getting their hands dirty pulling things apart and putting them back together, just a little bit better than they were before.
The ISFP Personality “ADVENTURER” Explorer
Flexible, charming artists, always ready to explore something new.
These people tend to be quiet, friendly, sensitive, and to enjoy engrossing themselves in the moment. They like to have their own space and to work within their own time frame. Generally speaking, they also dislike disagreements and conflicts and do not like to force their opinions or values on others. ISFP personality types are true artists, but not necessarily in the typical sense where they’re out painting happy little trees. Often enough though, they are perfectly capable of this. Rather, it’s that they use aesthetics, design and even their choices and actions to push the limits of social convention. ISFPs enjoy upsetting traditional expectations with experiments in beauty and behavior. Their motto might be "Don’t box me in!
The ESTP Personality “ENTREPRENEUR” – Explorer
Smart, energetic and very perceptive people, who truly enjoy living on the edge.
These people tend to be flexible and tolerant, and to take a pragmatic approach that focuses on immediate results. Typically, theories and conceptual explanations bore them—they prefer to act energetically to solve the problem and to “learn through doing.” ESTP personality types always have an impact on their immediate surroundings – the best way to spot them at a party is to look for the whirling eddy of people flitting about them as they move from group to group. Laughing and entertaining with a blunt and earthy humor, ESTP personalities love to be the center of attention. If an audience member is asked to come on stage, ESTPs volunteer – or volunteer a shy friend.
Theory, abstract concepts and plodding discussions about global issues and their implications don’t keep ESTPs interested for long. ESTPs keep their conversation energetic, with a good dose of intelligence, but they like to talk about what is – or better yet, to just go out and do it. ESTPs leap before they look, fixing their mistakes as they go, rather than sitting idle, preparing contingencies and escape clauses.
The ESFP Personality “ENTERTAINER” - Explorer
Spontaneous, energetic and enthusiast
These people tend to be outgoing, accepting, and to enjoy making things happen. They bring common sense to the workplace and approach their work with emphasis on being realistic. They tend to learn best by piloting new ideas in groups of people. If anyone is to be found spontaneously breaking into song and dance, it is the ESFP personality type. ESFPs get caught up in the excitement of the moment, and want everyone else to feel that way, too. No other personality type is as generous with their time and energy and when it comes to encouraging others, and no other personality type does it with such irresistible style.
The ESTJ Personality “EXECUTIVE” –SENTINAL
Excellent administrators, unsurpassed at managing things – or people.
These people tend to be decisive, matter-of-fact, efficient, and organized. They’ll do well in environments that have routines, processes, systems, and logical standards of operation. ESTJs are representatives of tradition and order, utilizing their understanding of what is right, wrong and socially acceptable to bring families and communities together. Embracing the values of honesty, dedication and dignity, people with the ESTJ personality type are valued for their clear advice and guidance, and they happily lead the way on difficult paths. Taking pride in bringing people together, ESTJs often take on roles as community organizers, working hard to bring everyone together in celebration of cherished local events, or in defense of the traditional values that hold families and communities together.
The ESFJ Personality “CONSUL” - Sentinal
Extraordinarily caring, social and popular people, always eager to help.
These people tend to be kind, cooperative, helpful, and to value follow through—even with relatively small work issues. They also want to be in a supportive environment where people will show them appreciation for their work. People who share the ESFJ personality type are, for lack of a better word, popular – which makes sense, given that it is also a very common personality type, making up twelve percent of the population. In high school, ESFJs are the cheerleaders and the quarterbacks, setting the tone, taking the spotlight and leading their teams forward to victory and fame. Later in life, ESFJs continue to enjoy supporting their friends and loved ones, organizing social gatherings and doing their best to make sure everyone is happy.
The INFJ Personality “ADVOCATE” DIPLOMAT
Quiet and mystical, yet very inspiring and tireless idealists.
These people tend to seek continuous meaning and connection and want to understand what motivates the people around them. They also tend to be values-driven individuals who have a clear vision about how the common good should be served. The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world. As Diplomats, they have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is the accompanying Judging (J) trait – INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.
The INTJ Personality ARCHITECT” ANALYST
Imaginative and strategic thinkers, with a plan for everything.
They tend to have unique ideas and a drive to achieve their goals. Generally speaking, they’ll excel in situations that require pattern recognition and long-range planning. They also tend to be skeptical, independent, and to hold high standards for themselves and others. It’s lonely at the top, and being one of the rarest and most strategically capable personality types, INTJs know this all too well. INTJs form just two percent of the population, and women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population – it is often a challenge for them to find like-minded individuals who are able to keep up with their relentless intellectualism and chess-like maneuvering. People with the INTJ personality type are imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but they do not squander their energy.
The INFP Personality - “MEDIATOR” – Diplomat
Poetic, kind and altruistic people, always eager to help a good cause.
These people tend to be curious, values-driven, and responsive. They also tend to be personable and to work well with people unless a particular value is threatened. Generally, it is especially helpful for these people to understand the greater meaning behind their work. INFP personalities are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, INFPs have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine. Comprising just 4% of the population, the risk of feeling misunderstood is unfortunately high for the INFP personality type – but when they find like-minded people to spend their time with, the harmony they feel will be a fountain of joy and inspiration.
The INTP Personality “LOGICIAN” - ANALYST
Innovative inventors with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge
These people are generally attracted to ideas, theories, and intellectual exploration. They prefer work environments that are relatively tranquil and don’t force too much social interaction. They also tend to be very analytical and to apply their minds to deep and challenging intellectual pursuits. The INTP personality type is fairly rare, making up only three percent of the population, which is definitely a good thing for them, as there’s nothing they’d be more unhappy about than being "common". INTPs pride themselves on their inventiveness and creativity, their unique perspective and vigorous intellect. Usually known as the philosopher, the architect, or the dreamy professor, INTPs have been responsible for many scientific discoveries throughout history.
The ENFP Personality “CAMPAIGNER” Diplomat
Enthusiastic, creative and sociable free spirits, who can always find a reason to smile.
These people tend to be enthusiastic, imaginative, confident, and to enjoy taking quick action on an emerging idea. They also enjoy environments that offer them affirmation and support. The ENFP personality is a true free spirit. They are often the life of the party, but unlike Explorers, they are less interested in the sheer excitement and pleasure of the moment than they are in enjoying the social and emotional connections they make with others. Charming, independent, energetic and compassionate, the 7% of the population that they comprise can certainly be felt in any crowd.
The ENTP Personality “DEBATOR” DIPLOMAT
Smart and Curious Thinkers who cannot resist an intellectual challenge.
These people tend to be quick, intelligent, stimulating, resourceful, and outspoken. They are great at brainstorming and then analyzing these ideas strategically. They’re also good at reading people and changing strategies quickly, but they get bored with routine. The ENTP personality type is the ultimate devil’s advocate, thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs and letting the ribbons drift in the wind for all to see. Unlike their more determined Judging (J) counterparts, ENTPs don’t do this because they are trying to achieve some deeper purpose or strategic goal, but for the simple reason that it’s fun. No one loves the process of mental sparring more than ENTPs, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points.
The ENFJ Personality “PROTAGONIST”- Diplomat
Charismatic and inspiring leaders, able to mesmerize their listeners.
These people are warm, responsive, and love to find the potential in the people around them. They excel in group settings when they can catalyze growth and action. ENFJs are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world. With a natural confidence that begets influence, ENFJs take a great deal of pride and joy in guiding others to work together to improve themselves and their community.
The ENTJ Personality “COMMANDER” - ANALYST
Bold, imaginative and strong-willed leaders, always finding a way – or making one.
These people tend to be frank and decisive. Generally, they’ll be great at spotting illogical and inefficient procedures and to replace them with intelligent systems. They enjoy long-term planning and goal setting and will usually be well-informed about their profession. ENTJs are natural-born leaders. People with this personality type embody the gifts of charisma and confidence, and project authority in a way that draws crowds together behind a common goal. But unlike their Feeling (F) counterpart, ENTJs are characterized by an often ruthless level of rationality, using their drive, determination and sharp minds to achieve whatever end they’ve set for themselves. Perhaps it is best that they make up only three percent of the population, lest they overwhelm the more timid and sensitive personality types that make up much of the rest of the world – but we have ENTJs to thank for many of the businesses and institutions we take for granted every day.
Until next time, remember, “You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to the best you can do everyday.”- Make it a great day!