Personality Dynamics in Coaching
 
Sylvia Lane

In our work with clients, we encourage using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality assessment to gain a better understanding of a leader’s preferences and how those preferences mirror or are different from others on their team. As a coach, we can use these insights about how they like to interact and communicate with others, their approach to decision-making, and how they organize their work and life to help them be more effective and successful in their role. We have found that when leaders in firms learn about personality preferences, it can help them in their role as a coach and people developer – as well as serving clients and selling to prospective clients.

To demonstrate how the MBTI is a tool to provide a deeper understanding of how personalities work and influence us, I will share how I used the MBTI with a past client, “Jeanne,” a manager with an accounting firm. To preface, Jeanne’s MBTI is ESTJ (a common personality type for accountants!), which stands for Extroversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging – a contrast with my MBTI, which is INFP or Introversion, INtuition, Feeling, and Perceiving.  As we learned about our differing styles, we began to work more successfully with each other and Jeanne gained insight into new ways to work with others on her team with varying personality types.

The MBTI Flip A Type Tip publication (from CPP.com) identifies some of the strengths and blind spots of the different Myers-Briggs types. My strengths as an INFP include the ability to inspire others and work from a place of idealism.  It also indicates an attunement with morale issues and working hard to achieve harmony and cooperation between colleagues.  Jeanne’s strengths, as an ESTJ, include working more efficiently and identifying what is working and what is not.  The ESTJ also provides clarity about plans, organization, and structure. A blind spot of the INFP type is a tendency to concentrate too much on people issues at the expense of budgetary considerations.  Another blind spot for INFPs is to postpone decisions in the pursuit of perfection.  The ESTJ blind spots include frustration with people who spend a lot of time exploring possibilities or options and an impatient or an impersonal manner at times.

Jeanne and I were able to use the knowledge of our two MBTI styles in several different ways to produce positive results. First, we acknowledged that there isn’t a “perfect” or “right” personality at work or in life and that no one’s personality is static.  While preferences exist and there is a foundation for who we are, we are changing regularly.

Using this as a foundation, it was helpful to apply our understanding of Jeanne’s personality and her natural preferences in recruiting, project assignment, people development, and in marketing and community education.  For example, when someone was needed for public speaking to a large group of strangers, Jeanne’s extroverted style is a great fit for marketing that involves public speaking.  She found these events energizing for her and very productive for the company as well.

The approach to leadership development Jeanne employed helped with staff retention as there was concrete evidence on a regular basis of how each person could reach their career goals by demonstrating excellence right where they were. As Jeanne gained confidence in herself and became more comfortable in her management style, she produced results more in line with her own potential. Through our coaching sessions, Jeanne learned we were very different in our approach to problem-solving. She began to trust and try new ideas or approaches I suggested for working with her team members and she pushed them to go a step beyond their comfort zone to achieve new goals. Our blended approach that leveraged our unique personality traits achieved more for the firm than either of us could have done alone.

personalities-coming-togetherUnderstanding some of the basic personality dynamics can help you and other team members be more effective with each other – and clients – and achieve greater results. It is a great tool for coaches, too, to help others learn more about themselves and explore new ways of interacting and working with those who may not have similar personality preferences.    How could the MBTI and understanding personality types help you and your team?  Please post a comment and share your thoughts. I am here to help you determine how this information could make you and your team more valuable and productive!

With Warm Regards,

Sylvia

 

 

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