What is the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)?

The MBTI® (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®) is the most powerful personality instrument for enhancing leadership skills, improving communication, and increasing team effectiveness.

The MBTI® Personality Inventory is based on Carl Gustav Jung’s theory of personality type. Carl G. Jung was one of the greatest psychiatrists of all time and the founder of Analytical Psychology.

Based on his theory, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the MBTI®. With over 70 years of study, the MBTI® is the best-researched and most widely used personality instrument in the world. More than 2 million people take the assessment each year, and 70% of all Fortune 500 companies use it.

Whatever your life circumstances, understanding the guy can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments stronger, and your life closer to your heart’s desire. “-Isabel Briggs Myers

Carl C. Jung believed that we are all born with certain natural predispositions that do not change throughout our lives. Myers-Briggs derived from these 16 personality types with natural strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. Once we understand ourselves and how we differ from others specifically, we have a set of tools at hand to improve our personal and professional lives. Typical MBTI® applications are in the area of

  • growth and self-development
  • communication with others
  • leadership and management skills
  • appreciation of team diversity and effectiveness

The four dichotomies

According to the MBTI® there are four pairs of opposite preferences, the so-called dichotomies:

Where do we direct our energy: extraversion (E) – introversion (I)

People who prefer extraversion focus their attention on the outside world of things, people, and events around them. They are often perceived as friendly, verbally skilled, and easy to get to know. They get energy by being with other people. They usually think while talking.

People who prefer introversion focus their energy and attention on the inner world of thoughts, ideas, and reflections. They are generally quiet and perceived as reserved and more difficult to get to know. They recharge their batteries when they are alone. They usually take time to collect their thoughts before speaking.

How we receive information: detection (S) – intuition (N)

Feeling refers to receiving information primarily with the five senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Sensing people pay attention to facts and details. They want to understand the parts first to understand the overall design. Detecting people is usually practical and realistic.

Intuition is about “the big picture”, the meaning and the connection behind the initial information. People who prefer intuition enjoy concepts and theory and can be quite abstract. They usually look at the overall design first, then understand how the individual parts contribute to the whole.

How we make decisions: Think (T) – Feel (F)

Thinking people make their decisions based on objective impersonal logic and are often good at analyzing and solving problems rationally. They focus on tasks more than relationships. Therefore, they can appear cold or detached to people who prefer feelings.

Sensitive people base their decisions primarily on their value systems. They focus on the effect their decisions have on other people and their feelings, and they are good at understanding others. Your behavior may seem too emotional and irrational for the thinking types.

How we organize ourselves and the world around us: Judge (J) – Perceive (P)

People who prefer to judge like to have the outside world organized and orderly. They tend to make plans and stick to them. They are decisive and like to get things done. They can sometimes appear stiff and inflexible to other guys.

People who prefer to Perceive like to explore the world rather than organize it. They are spontaneous and flexible. They prefer to collect information and leave things open. This can seem disorganized and irresponsible to people J.

Sixteen personality types

The combination of a person’s preferences leads to 16 basic personality types, described by a four-letter combination:

ISTJ – Responsible executors

ISFJ – Dedicated Commissioners

INFJ – Insightful Motivators

INTJ – visionary strategists

ISTP – Agile Pragmatics

ISFP – Practical Custodians

INFP – Inspired Crusaders

INTP – Expansive Analyzers

ESTP – Dynamic Mavericks

ESFP – Enthusiastic Improvisers

ENFP – Passionate Catalysts

ENTP – Innovative Explorers

ESTJ – Efficient Drivers

ESFJ – Committed Builders

ENFJ – Involve mobilizers

ENTJ – Strategic Directors

descriptions of “Introduction to Type and Leadership” by Sharon Lebovitz Richmond

Each type has individual strengths and weaknesses. You can find a brief description of each type here: Understanding the Myers-Briggs® type indicator and its type is extremely helpful in various areas of your life. The MBTI® supported me personally in a career transition and to improve relationships with others. Today I use the MBTI® with my coaching clients: leaders learn the skills to lead people to sustainable success. Organizations appreciate diversity and increase team performance. People grow personally and professionally. Sources: “Introduction to typography”, Isabel Briggs Myers, 6th edition; “MBTI Handbook”, Isabel Briggs Myers et al., 3rd Edition Further Reading: “Jung: A Very Brief Introduction”, Anthony Stevens “Different Gifts: Understanding Personality Type”, Isabel Briggs Myers

“If you don’t know who you are, the world will tell you.” -Carl G. Jung

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