We’ve broadly discussed the MBTI and its history. Now, I want to talk about each of the four MBTI scales from a leadership perspective. The first scale is the Extravert-Introvert Scale. As Jung began studying people’s behavior, he first noticed how involved they were in the outside world.
He separated people into Extraverts (E) and Introverts (I). I’s are mostly interested in ideas and concepts inside their own heads. E’s interact more with the outside world. We all lie somewhere on the scale between the two extremes.
Your place on the E-I Scale tells you how you get your energy. Es get jazzed from being around a group of people. I’s recharge their batteries by being alone.
E’s and I’s process information in very different ways. E’s tend to think out loud. They process information by talking about it. I’s like to really think about an idea before they share it. When I give MBTI workshops, I ask the E’s to get up and stand on one side of the room and the I’s to stand on the other. Most of the time, the E’s chat with each other all the way to their side of the room and continue to talk once they form their group. The I’s, on the other hand, stand up and walk quietly to their side of the room. They usually stand silently watching the E’s talking animatedly across the room.
E’s tend to have a number of good friends. They are expressive, demonstrative, and easy to get to know. They like being around other people. I’s tend to have a few really close friends. They are more controlled and don’t share much about themselves with others. They are usually quiet and like to spend some time alone.
As far as learning styles go, E’s like to learn by being actively engaged in discussions and activities. I’s learn best from written material.
Neither way is better than the other! Both types are equally valuable. E’s like to refine their thinking by talking about it. They sort their ideas verbally. I’s like to refine their thinking internally. They don’t like to talk about an idea until they’ve given it some thoughtful consideration.
Our society promotes and rewards extraverted behavior. In school, teachers call on students and expect an answer immediately. E’s don’t have a problem, but I’s really like to give thoughtful answers. In business meetings, we are often asked to think on our feet and answer quickly. That behavior is much more challenging for an I.
Does that mean that I’s won’t be successful or able to hold their own in meetings? Not at all! Your preferred style is just that — preferred. We can each learn to behave outside our comfort zone. The more we practice, the more comfortable we become. The most successful people can operate inside and outside of their preferences.
Extraverted leaders are usually outgoing and friendly. They speak their mind honestly and frequently. They have a wide circle of friends and are energized by being around other people. In life, they like to be active and engaged.
Extraverted leaders have a tendency to run over I’s. In a meeting, it is important to create time and space for I’s to answer. I’s need some time to think about their answers. They REALLY don’t like to be put on the spot. Being the center of attention is not a good place for I’s, and they don’t share their feelings easily.
An Introvert can give valuable insight into challenges and topics if we create a safe environment for them to share. Sending out an agenda before a meeting gives an I time to think about the topics before arriving. We can also ask for written ideas to be turned in after the meeting instead of relying totally on discussion.
Introverted leaders think through an idea before they say it out loud. They must develop a sense of trust before they will open up and share their feelings. Introverted leaders have a few close friends and do not like to be in the spotlight. They recharge their batteries by spending time alone. They like to observe what’s going on around them for a while before they decide to join in.
E’s need time to discuss issues. Introverted leaders must create time and space for active discussion. It’s essential to have time in the meeting for the E’s to refine their thoughts through discussion.
It’s also important for leaders to understand how conflicts can arise between the two types. Let’s consider how each type might see the other. E’s could see the thoughtful I’s as aloof, maybe even rude when they don’t talk freely. I’s could consider the E’s to be chatterboxes who say things they don’t mean.
It’s important not to expect others to behave the way that we do. Remember that we each have our own unique Frame of Reference. Part of our Frame of Reference is our MBTI type. As leaders, it’s important that we understand and accommodate both types.
The two types will complement each other if we, as leaders, recognize their strengths and support each’s way of processing information and recharging their batteries.
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