When we do our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) workshops with people, we’re often asked how team members can be the same type but be so different in so many areas, and vice versa.
Not everything can be explained using the Myers-Briggs framework, but the answer is: they may have a different MBTI Step II result. There’s a lot of depth to the MBTi and that’s what we love about it.
A lot of our people in our community have done Myers-Briggs Step I so we’re going to look at taking it to the next level and look at Step II so you can better understand the depth and breadth of your personality as well as your team members’ personalities.
The questions asked in Step II look at things from a deeper perspective. They help distinguish the subtle differences in personalities between people who might share the same four-letter type, or the subtle similarities between people who have the a different type.
You should complete Step II if you want to increase your self-awareness and improve your effectiveness as a team leader; it all starts with you. It also gives you a customised personality profile to use for your personal and professional development.
Similarly, it helps teams pinpoint areas of compatibility or highlight potential areas of conflict. It also provides strategies and tips for how to handle the differences as well as how to leverage a team’s strengths.
Really, it's your unique personality fingerprint. Michelle and I (Jan) are the same Myers-Briggs, ENFJ, yet we’re different. So it’s another way we can demonstrate our uniqueness.
When looking at who you are as an individual, there are probably five facets that describe your level of extraversion and introversion, which refers to where you get your energy from. This is probably the section of Step II that the majority of people find the most interesting because they can easily relate to it.
The way we connect with others
The first subset of extraversion and introversion is the way we connect with others. If you’re an extrovert, you’re more likely to initiate a connection with others. If you’re an introvert, you’re more likely to sit back and let others connect with you. The beauty of Step II of the MBTI is that there is a midzone as well; you could swing one way or the other, depending on your energy at the time.
As an extrovert, you’re more assertively outgoing in social situations - the way in which you plan and direct gatherings. You enjoy linking people who have similar interests.
As an introvert, you might think of social obligations as unimportant and leave it to others to organise, and you might be seen by others as being quiet and shy.
If you tend to sit in the midzone, you’re probably someone who would initiate conversation and introduce others if needed, but you’re equally happy to sit back and be on the receiving end.
That’s where the subsets get interesting because your Step I report could have you down as an extrovert, but you might be a ‘receiving extrovert’, meaning you don’t think of social situations as important or hate small, one-to-one chats.
Communicating your feelings and thoughts
We’re all different in the way we express ourselves, but there are certain qualities that can be distinguished between extroverts and introverts when communicating their thoughts and feelings.
Now on the extraversion side, you tend to be expressive, whereas at the introversion end of the scale, you can be seen as contained.
Expressive types talk a lot, they’re easy to get to know and are open to expressing themselves and their feelings wherever they are to whomever they’re talking to. Opposite to that are introverts who keep their feelings to themselves and are hard to get to know.
The midzone is where you’d sit if you reveal small bits of personal information to people you’re comfortable with but at the same time, show more interest in others’ feelings rather than revealing your own.
I (Jan) think this is where we are different in our extraversion because, I'm more expressive, whereas Michelle takes a little longer to reveal herself and is good at questioning other and bringing out things.
Breadth and depth of relationships
Knowing how your personality relates to your relationships is always helpful, but especially so for people leaders and as part of a team.
If you are more extroverted, you're more gregarious. So, you enjoy being with others and belonging to groups and prefer not to be alone.
If you're more introverted, you have more intimate relationships; you’d rather relate to a few significant people than to lots in a large group, and seek close one-to-one engagement. Neither is right or wrong, or good or bad; it is your preference.
In the midzone, how comfortable you feel with strangers depends on the situation or context and you can come across as both outgoing and reserved.
The ways we communicate
There's a lot in this one; it’s not just about the way we communicate but about how we socialise and learn. At one end of the scale, you might be active when it comes to socialising and communicating, while at the other end of the scale, you might be more reflective.
If you’re proactive, you’re likely to learn better by doing, hearing and observing. Personalities like this like to communicate in person. If you’re reflective, you’re likely to learn better by reading and writing.
Someone who sits in the midzone might prefer to learn new things in person, but prefer to read about things you’re already familiar with. You can also be that person who actively participates in events or quietly observes too.
Even quietly observing is still being an active participant, but it tends to be seen as not participating because we can’t measure the amount of effort or energy put in. It can sometimes be an issue in teams because you can’t see what’s going on inside people’s head, but they’ve probably got a better insight into what’s happening. It’s important not to assume.
The important thing to remember about extroverts is that they are masterful questioners, which allows the introvert the opportunity to share what they know.
If you are managing people, start to try to understand the different ways your team members express themselves. As a people leader it’s important to know how to accommodate both types of personalities, the introvert and the extrovert. If you know what floats someone’s boat, what really gets them motivated, you’ll have a more effective team.
Level of energy
Our kind of energy and energy levels can fluctuate throughout the day and can depend on the situation. As a general rule, if you’re more extroverted, you are more enthusiastic, whereas if you’re more introverted, you are quieter.
Extroverts enjoy being the centre of attention and are good at influencing others. Introverts prefer quieter settings and space and on the flip side, tend to have a calming effect on others, especially chaotic people and chaotic situations. Some people who have done their Myers-Briggs Step II might come out as extroverts but still prefer peace and quiet.
If you sit in the middle, you’re the type of person who can show enthusiasm when you want to or if you know a topic well, you’re happy to speak out about it.
We recommend any team or individual that’s undergoing coaching to do their MBTI Step II with a qualified practitioner. We’ve also put together a template for you to use that will help you think about where your personality sits on the scale of introversion/extraversion.
If you’re a people leader, it’s a good idea to think about these five facets of introversion and extraversion and apply them to each of your team members. It could help you solve a lot of issues or help you progress as a team if you truly understand everyone’s individual personalities.