The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been a standard personality measurement for decades, but it's really come into vogue recently as Susan Cain and other thought leaders encourage us to understand the benefits of introverted leadership. In the just-announced Influence Research Project, Myers-Briggs owner CPP has "new research showing that MBTI personality type is intricately connected with the successes and failures of interpersonal influencing." It plans to reveal details in an upcoming white paper.
In anticipation of the study, MBTI Lead Trainer Michael Segovia shared some misconceptions we tend to have about the MBTI personality types.
1. Introverts and Extroverts don't really exist
"We call people introverts and extroverts, but it's not really true. No one is purely introverted or extroverted," Segovia says. Instead, we lean towards certain outward expressions. He says it is all depends on the context of the situation. "If you are in a learning setting, then you might become more extroverted so you can better communicate with the teacher, whereas at home you could be more quiet."
What it means to you: You're capable of both extroversion and introversion, so don't use test results or previous situations as an excuse not to grow.
2. We're split down the middle
"Statistically in America, we are 49 percent towards extroversion, 51 percent towards introversion. In fact, that's a steady statistic around the world. It's just that, in America, we have a culture mandate that extroversion is more healthy," he says. We may be at a tipping point where Facebook, Twitter and other massively successful startups are led by introversion-leaning people.
What it means to you: Be flexible in how you design your company culture. For instance, rigidly creating open-space environments or isolating offices can alienate half of your company.
3. The test is always changing
The MBTI launched in 1943, and since then there has been a litany of changes to the test - so it may not make sense to keep relying on the one you took in college or early in your career. "We have a full research team focusing on the validity and reliability of the report as well as on the language of the report itself." Once a lengthy process, the MBTI can now be taken online through the CPP website. It took me about 20 minutes to complete.
What it means to you: Assessments like the MBTI and StrengthsFinder are easier than ever to implement, which means there is little excuse for not adding them to your company toolbox.
4. Early tests had their own quirks
"When taking the MBTI, we found that extroversion-leaning people tended to think about what they most recently did rather than what they usually do," he says. For instance, a particularly chaotic day at work could have meant test results would skew towards structure, planning and organization - even if that wasn't what the person usually desires. They have updated the test to better prevent that from happening.
What it means to you: No test is gospel. When assessing yourself or someone else, always bring your own observations and intuition to the table.