what’s the ideal personality type for a manager?

A reader writes:

I consistently test as an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs personality test (I went down that rabbit hole after reading one of your older posts). I am great at planning and developing long-term, big idea strategies for my organization, but I really struggle making personal connections with staff. It kills me when hourly staff show up five minutes late for work, which I know is not a big deal to anyone else. I make some decisions without asking for input, which bothers some of my staff, who are used to making group decisions on everything. And I can only handle a few minutes of small talk before looking for my exit. So yeah, I fit the profile pretty well.

I know that you don’t think MBTI types belong in a resume, but I am curious what MBTI type you would choose if you were designing the perfect manager for a small business.

It’s a trick question! You’ve identified some of the weaknesses that a classic INTJ would bring to managing, but every personality type has strengths and weaknesses as a manager. For example, I consistently score as an INFJ, and while some INFJ strengths are helpful in managing people (insight, problem-solving, empathy), INFJ weaknesses can be real drawbacks in managing too (perfectionism, unreasonable expectations of others, a tendency to believe we’re always right). You can find the same pros and cons with the other personality types too.

Of course, plenty of people don’t believe the MBTI is accurate at all, but I don’t think it needs to be in order to answer this question. Whether or not someone sees themselves in their Myers-Briggs type, most of us have characteristics that make us both better and worse suited for managing.

Myers-Briggs aside, I’d say that these are some of the characteristics that you want to see in a manager:
* a strong drive to get things done
* a willingness to make hard decisions, including ones that might be unpopular (like cutting a program that isn’t getting the results you need or firing a well-liked employee who isn’t performing at the level you need)
* a willingness to have awkward or difficult conversations
* a genuine eagerness to get input from other people and an openness to new information, including messages that might be hard to hear
* self-awareness and the ability to regulate your own emotions so that you’re not spewing frustration or stress or drama all over your staff
* at least a basic understanding of human psyches — that humans are not robots, that people react to your tone as much as to your words, that things like the appearance of fairness or bias matter, and so forth

Those things can show up in all different sorts of people, no matter where they are on the Myers-Briggs model.

That said, personality models can certainly be useful in helping you understand your own behavior and where you might want to make a particular point of compensating as a manager. For example, you note that you’re rigid about things like arrival times, but that you also know that that’s not the one universal way of looking at it — and that last part is the key. Sometimes people don’t realize that their own particular outlook on life or work isn’t The One True Outlook Held By All Right-Minded People, and personality typing can (sometimes) be useful in helping to understand that.

{ 130 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.

    Let’s also remember that these tests have incredibly high variability when taken by the same people weeks apart, don’t differentiate between actual and aspirational traits and don’t classify many, many people well at all.

    Focusing on the actual duties of a manager, as AaM suggests, is really the best way to go.

    1. Tau

      Preach it. If you find the MBTI useful for understanding yourself and how you work, I am sincerely happy for you. That sort of information can be very valuable and very hard to figure out, and everyone should use the tools that work best for them. But none of that means that the MBTI is that useful for everyone, or that it has a scientific basis, or that it should be used to form judgements about other people or sweeping generalisations such as “what’s the best personality type for a manager?”.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      But that doesn’t really matter to this question or conversation. Forget the LW mentioned MBTI – she still identified traits about her that aren’t great for managers (and presumably others that are).

      1. neverjaunty

        But the problem isn’t that the traits LW is identifying “aren’t great for managers”. The problem is that she needs to communicate with people who may have a different approach to things, and may be getting resistance to changing company culture. Whether you are an INTJ or not has nothing to do with those skills.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Fine. But she demonstrates those traits regardless of whether the MBTI is relevant or a bunch of hooey.

      2. Mike C.

        It matters in that they’re popularly held as useful measures when in fact it’s pseudoscience and at worst a scam.

        1. Graciosa

          I know this is a big point for you (the anti-MBTI perspective), but mine have been extraordinarily consistent and very helpful.

          I don’t mind your pointing out that this isn’t the experience for everyone (although I kind of wonder if T’s are more consistent than F’s – just a thought) or that not everyone finds it useful.

          I don’t mind the challenges to validity (I think there was a good previous discussion on aspects of scientific validity in assessing these kinds of tests; it was interesting and informative).

          I do mind the “scam” accusation. The fact that you don’t find value in these does not mean that the people who provide them are doing so while cackling madly about the poor fools who are going to make them rich buying the modern equivalent of snake oil.

          Every time I have taken one of these, the people administering it clearly expected that we would find it useful to some extent – although they were all equally clear in cautioning us about the limits to its utility and ways either the results or the analytical model could be misused.

          I have enjoyed many of your other comments on this topic – whether or not I agreed with them – because they often make me think in ways that the brief pejoratives don’t. I’m hoping to find more of the more scholarly ones in the future (I’ll keep scrolling!) as I do enjoy a good debate.

          1. nofelix

            I like the MBTI, but one of the aspects that makes it into a scam *in some situations* is when people who’ve invested in becoming MBTI certified over-sell its usefulness. When it was popular, many people seemingly changed their careers to being MBTI consultants. It is a very successful brand, and people often make impossible claims for it. I completely understand the ire directed at MBTI from people who have been forced to take part in things that they consider irrelevant pseudo-scientific invasions into their personal lives just because their manager bought the sales pitch. As a recent example, I took an after-work post-grad course at a top university and we were forced to complete MBTI tests and write analysis of ourselves and other group members. The speaker who led these events happened to be career MBTI certified trainer and the wife of one of the school’s professors. Obviously MBTI wasn’t chosen just because it would be the best outcome for the students. It’s great that your experience of MBTI trainers has been an ethical one but that’s not everyone’s experience.

            That’s not to say it isn’t useful. Personally I find it fantastic help when I need to consider other perspectives.

    3. themmases

      That is very true. It’s great that it’s helpful for some individuals but that doesn’t prove the validity of any test or measurement.

      I’d also add that many of the things in the list above are attitudes that might depend on context, skills that can be learned by most people unless they have a serious aversion to them or lack of aptitude for it. Some people might be naturally willing to have awkward conversations, but most people could learn to handle them well if they think through their approach and force themselves to try it. (I feel like that’s actually the solution to many questions here.) Most people have something or someone important enough to them that the could have a strong situational drive to get things done.

      1. A Cita

        Yep, reliability and validity are questionable, no matter what Myers & Briggs might claim. Additionally, the issues around the factors you mention–changes over time, growth, learning, etc.

        I mean they are a fun time pass, but I personally would never use the results from one for anything serious. Also, I find the explanations so general as to be applicable to almost anyone. Reminds me of when PeeWee when to see the psychic during his Big Adventure: “You’re here because you want something…”

        1. Mike C.

          We might as well read tea leaves, get out a deck of tarot cards or play a game of Dixit.

    4. Vicki

      The “test” has no variabliity at all. The 96 questions never change.

      What varies are people’s answers.

      Now, ask yourself: If you answer the exact same questions differently the next time…. is that an issue with the questions?

      >> don’t differentiate between actual and aspirational traits
      The MBTI is specially designed to NOT care about “aspirational” traits. The entire point of the MBTI is to get at innate inborn Type, not traits.

      >> don’t classify many, many people well at all.
      Again, that’s a, shal I call it a “failure” of the people. (And it’s also not true. The MBTI is very good at what it is supposed to do. It’s not very good at what people think (mistakenly) that it’s meant for. There’s a big difference).

      1. Mike C.

        If the test cannot accurately and repeatedly measure what it purports to measure, then it’s a bad test. Blaming the 2×4 for not having an accurate tape measure is absolutely nuts. You might as well be defending polygraph tests.

      2. Elsajeni

        If the test is trying to get at an innate inborn Type, then having questions that people might honestly answer differently each time they take it IS an issue with the test. Variability of results suggests either that many people don’t actually have a clear type, or that the test is not actually very good at identifying people’s types.

    5. SystemsLady

      I really, really dislike the way some MBTI tests and circles (less MBTI as a whole) characterize thinking *vs.* feeling. This critique applies to all scales to an extent, but the the way that scale in particular is discussed makes a false dichotomy out of two modes of thinking that can be used together. It implies that people of one type must be bad at or incapable of the other type and implies a middle ground doesn’t exist.

      OP, to bring this on topic, you can address being an INTJ manager who doesn’t have a pattern of asking for input or is annoyed by people coming in 5 minutes late by consciously committing yourself to improve at those in the way that works best for you/an INTJ. That second part is important! Think of a way to collect feedback for big decisions that doesn’t interfere with your thinking (perhaps use email?), implement it, and add it to your mental checklist. Make it a daily pattern to recite to yourself a logical reason for not being annoyed at a person who’s five minutes late, since it seems in your case you have logical reasons not to care. Et cetera.

      Doesn’t mean anybody and everybody is capable of mastering management, and you may still feel irked when Fergus walks in at 8:05, but any improvement is a good thing to try for.

      Hopefully you aren’t concluding that you’re an X person and won’t ever be able to improve at these things! A personality test lists your tendencies, not what you can and can’t do.

      But it’s great to use a test as an opportunity to reflect on what you need to improve on and how to improve on it, and you’re halfway there! Self reflection is a powerful tool, whether the test that brings you there is bunk or not.

      1. Susan C

        Thank you! That false dichotomy has been driving me batty since I first encountered this test.

      2. Sparrow

        This is my frustration with every personality test. They assume certain traits are mutually exclusive, and that’s just not the case. My “accurate” MBTI would actually be I-N/S-T-J.

        I do think there can be value in understanding tendencies. I have a co-worker who’s utterly incapable of empathy, and MBTI types give him a more tangible way to grasp that other people think and act in ways unlike him.

  2. neverjaunty

    Yes, this. As somebody wisely pointed out in the related thread, Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder and all that measure operational preferences. They aren’t magic X-rays of your personality, and they aren’t going to tell you whether you have the skills needed to be manage people effectively.

    1. NotAnotherManager!

      Yep. I am also an INTJ, and I fit into the description pretty squarely. Where I found MBTI helpful was articulating my personal preferences and seeing how they did and did not match with leadership skills. It just means I have to work harder in those areas, not that I’m defined by my type. They’re preferences, not predestination.

  3. Rat Racer

    What I think is interesting here is that the strengths that Alison listed as part of her MBTI (INFJ) should also be strengths that belong to the OP’s MBTI (INTJ) – although maybe the OP might not have as much empathy – or might not think that they do.

    There are all kinds of ways to be a great manager, and a thousand different ways to suck (QED from all the letters that come in from the victims of terrible managers).

    OP – the fact that you think about and care about being a good manager (otherwise you would not be writing in to ask) says to me that you probably ARE one. It’s incumbent on the employee to adapt to her manager’s style, so if you’re a manager who cares about punctuality and is not big on small talk, your employees had better to show up on time and minimize the small talk. The former you should be explicit about – the latter is less important for you to articulate.

    This isn’t to say that managers – even good managers – shouldn’t try to evolve and change for the better; but if you’re focused on the priorities that Alison listed, you’re doing right by your team.

    1. Observer

      It’s incumbent on the employee to adapt to her manager’s style, so if you’re a manager who cares about punctuality and is not big on small talk, your employees had better to show up on time and minimize the small talk.

      Up to a point. If a manager has an issue with conversation altogether, not just small talk, then it’s on him to deal with that, because you simply cannot manage most people effectively if you can’t have a conversation that goes beyond a few minutes. Yes, most interactions can be brief, but you need to be able to talk some things through. This is ESPECIALLY true for situations where it makes sense to allow or require people to work well independently. In such cases, people need to have an understanding of the supervisor’s needs and expectations. That can’t happen with ONLY short conversations.

      By the same token, rigidity is generally an issue that an effective manager needs to reign in. This is true for any aspect of your work. Obviously, if punctuality is important to my manager it behooves me to be on time. But, if my manager is going to treat my coming in 5 minutes late with a similar reaction to my co-worker’s missing hard deadlines, causing the company to lose clients, losing the company significant amounts of money, etc. what is my incentive to do good work? If I’m Joe Average, I’m going to put all of my effort into never being 5 minutes late, and I’m not going to put much effort into the other stuff. Hopefully, I won’t actually slack, but I’m not putting in my best effort. If I’m really good, I’ll keep up my standard of work, but I’ll e job hunting. There are exceptions, but that’s not about manager preferences but genuine business needs.

      1. designbot

        INTJs are actually totally fine with long conversations, as long as there’s a point. “Not cool with small talk” =/= “can only have short conversations,” in fact I’d say it’s just the opposite. If I could skip those short stupid conversations and only participate in the substantial ones, that would be such a relief!

        1. nofelix

          The trick is to see that there are multiple possible ‘points’ to a conversation. If we are having a conversation that is notionally about how to structure TPS reports then there are also other things going on. For instance – getting to know how we each think and feel, working out how the reports fit into the rest of the business, aligning our thoughts on the purpose of the report.

          An unrestrained P-type will talk about all of the above issues until the cows come home and that’s a waste of time and a ditraction, yes. But the solution isn’t to stay rigidly on-topic either, otherwise it’s easy to become blinkered, miss opportunities and create a result that works but doesn’t have good interfaces with other areas.

          1. nofelix

            To follow up on the relevance of MBTI: in this situation a self-aware J would realise that seemingly off-topic subjects should get a reasonable hearing if there is time. And a self-aware P would realise that even the best off-topic subjects need to be justified to other members of the meeting, and sometimes kept for later.

      2. Rat Racer

        Agreed – but again, we’re talking about small talk, which I interpret as non-work-related conversation. This might be an issue of interpretation, but I took the OP to mean that they didn’t like schmoozing, not that they were unwilling to discuss projects, give clear instruction, deliver feedback, etc.

        I also agree that your second example is of a manager with misplaced priorities, but again, I didn’t get the impression from the OP that they place punctuality high above all other performance indicators, just that it’s something the OP thinks is important in principle.

        1. Observer

          Well, “it kills me” sounds like a very high priority, not just “important in principle”. I was addressing the idea that if something “kills” a supervisor, it’s totally on the supervisee to adjust. I disagree. An effective supervisor understands that this may not be a good or appropriate attitude for their workplace.

          Now, the OP seems to have the good sense to recognize this. And that’s really important.

          1. twenty points for the copier

            Though it sounds like she also recognizes that being a stickler for punctuality down to the second may have downsides as a manager. Yes, she certainly can enforce a very strict policy (on punctuality, small talk, or anything else) because it pleases her to do so, but being less strict about things that are matter of preferences rather than performance may have benefits in terms of increased morale and retention.

            A decent manager may be a stickler for a few things that their employees have to deal with. But if that manager is trying to be a better manager, then ignoring her own preferences when they don’t make business sense is better than forcing employees to adapt.

          2. Graciosa

            Yes, as a manager, your job is to get the best out of your people and to get things done.

            As a fellow INTJ, I am also not fond of small talk. I would love it if we could always get right down to business – and if everyone would understand that it isn’t at all personal – but I live in a world populated by people with other personality types.

            And some of them just don’t function well if they believe they are being treated impersonally –

            As the person responsible for getting performance and results, I have to adapt my style accordingly.

            That means I have had to learn to chat for the first twenty minutes of an hour-long one-on-one meeting with certain individuals before turning to business. I also have to keep having dinner and chatting with customers and business partners for what strikes me as a ridiculous amount of time before turning to the matter at hand.

            In the latter case, it’s generally more prevalent in certain countries and is labeled as a cultural matter, but I still have to do it anyway. And yes, it absolutely comes up in dealing with other born-and-bred U.S. citizens, so this can’t be entirely cultural.

            My “INTJ” justification for this – or at least how I reconciled this internally – is that it is actually more efficient in the long run to give other people what they need in the way of small talk. There are employees who work harder for you if you take the time to ask about their families. In negotiations, I sometimes face the choice of “wasting” X time on social chat before business or increasing the length of the negotiations by 5X because I didn’t.

            So the social chit-chat thing is something I had to learn to do in order to function effectively – and efficiently – in my job. I still don’t enjoy it, but I learned to do it well enough that I can mentally multi-task so it bothers me less.

            And yes, as the manager, it is my job to adapt.

            1. catsAreCool

              An an INTJ myself, this is one of the things I enjoy about being a computer programmer – we programmers aren’t expected to be all that great at small talk :)

            2. NotAnotherManager!

              Yep, I do the same thing. I look at it as part of my job requirements to keep people feeling good about coming into the office. If that means chatting about their kid’s lacrosse game, so be it. I know nothing about lacrosse and could not care less about sports, but I can spend 5 minutes letting a parent be excited about their kids’ success (or sympathize over sick pets or whatever the issue du jour is).

              It also helps me spot issues and refer people to our employee assistance plan, when needed. I’ve had a couple employees with elder-care issues with their parents who didn’t know about the EAP or that they could use FMLA for their time-off needs.

  4. The Other Dawn

    I’m happy to see that, as a manager, I have all these characteristics (I believe I do, anyway); however, I definitely struggle with the awkward/tough conversations. Actually, tough conversations about what went wrong with a task/project, how to fix it, stuff like that, aren’t a problem for me. It’s the conversations dealing with the employees’ performance that I find I struggle with. I always worry that I’m just being too picky, or I’m being a hard ass and will hurt their feelings.

    1. knitcrazybooknut

      Having an employee who is in her first full-time job has helped me with the hard conversations. I was hesitant at first, but I thought about what I would have wanted people to walk me through, and the dumbassed mistakes I made because no one taught me how I should be behaving.

      Now it’s second nature. I’m building her up to the next level by letting her know what she needs to change to get there. It helps immensely that she is really open to the feedback and appreciates the information.

      It’s tougher when no one wants to talk about it. But those are so necessary if you want anything to change.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I feel very fortunate that in my first office job, I had a manager who stated all her expectations explicitly. She was working with mainly entry-level office workers, and there was a relatively high rate of turnover, and she was very intentional in teaching us how to work in an office.

    2. LisaD

      I think everyone has trouble with that, except the kinds of assholes who shouldn’t be managers anyway. AFAICT it never really gets easier.

  5. Also Jenn

    I think the ideal personality type for a manager is someone who recognizes that individual personality quirks are not an excuse for mismanaging your interactions with others. I tend to test INTJ on the MBTI, but I was really pushed into expanding beyond my comfort zone as a kid. I wasn’t allowed to eschew social interaction when I didn’t want to and I was called out on behaviors that other colleagues of mine probably got explained away as “that’s just how he/she is” when they were children. And now I treat things like social interaction, small talk, and mental flexibility the same way I treat muscle conditioning, running, and muscle flexibility — something I have to work at and keep practicing to stay agile. While, yes, you can filter your “friends” to only include the people who like you for who you are, you don’t get to filter out colleagues who don’t “get” you, so it’s good to start learning as soon as possible that a MBTI evaluation merely tells you where you need to apply extra effort, not what you should avoid.

    1. Jillociraptor

      I think this is exactly right. I’ve gotten INFJ on every MBTI inventory I’ve ever taken, probably a dozen or more, and I find it really useful for understanding some of the cognitive assumptions I (and others) make. The most important insight from investigating my type has been breaking down my own assumptions about the “right” way to orient, and helped me have more of a growth mindset for myself and others.

      Any time you’re working closely with people, you need to have the flexibility to be a lot of different things as the moment requires. That, more than having any natural skillset or personality type, is what makes for a great leader, IMO.

    2. INFJ

      Funny you should say that; my bf is also an NT and always talks about how he views small talk as an exercise in honing his interpersonal skills. He engages people just for the practice. I, on the other hand, run for the hills.

    3. Rat Racer

      Yep – I totally agree. I have lousy attention to detail, but have learned the very, very hard way that if you can’t demonstrate competence at putting binder pages in numerical order, people won’t trust you to write the content.

    4. Argh!

      Agreed. Over time we have to learn to behave in ways that don’t come naturally to us. It’s our work “persona” and we are free to be hermits or social butterflies in off-hours as we wish.

  6. Macedon

    Would encourage OP to replace MBTI type with “zodiac sign” for similar (or improved) forecast accuracy. I think we should be all trailing after Leos?

    That aside, no such thing as a stereotypical manager. One manager’s flaws are another’s virtues in the context of their industry, daily tasks, led group. Hence why Alison’s response is inevitably vague: you need to factor in individual variables before prescribing a successful management recipe.

      1. A Cita

        Scorpio with Leo rising with 7 Ennegram and ENF/TP . I should be CEO AND your social chair with planned activities such as tandem skydiving from the heights of Madagascar sky into a library where we all then silently read Agatha Christie in our own cubicles with no chatting.

        I’m too much of a post modernist to comfortably slot dynamic all humans into static taxonomies of behavior.

        1. fposte

          I know what you mean and agree, but that last sentence is ultimately pretty funny, since it basically says, “My category of people who don’t like to categorize” :-).

          Reminds me of a group training exercise I heard about, where the facilitator asked people to categorize themselves as rule followers or rule flouters and to stand on their respective sides of the room accordingly. And all the rule flouters obediently walked to the designated side of the room. (It was told to me by somebody who did not catch the irony there.)

          1. A Cita

            Ha! Well, in defense of the rule flouters: when you’re a rule flouter (like me), context matters. You don’t just flout a rule for the sake of flouting (I mean you can at times if you’re mischievous, like me *smiles*). But there’s usually some (potentially self serving) logic at play when you flout. :) Though, I have been known to say rule were invented for the sheer pleasure of breaking them.

            Well, you can say that of all post modernists. Luckily it’s less a category and more a heuristic approach for understanding lives and phenomena rendered invisible to modernity.

            *in my best The Dude voice*: It’s all about the liminality, man. :)

            (I know this is way off topic–but I [EN]feel/think[P] you appreciate it :)

        2. Anamou

          Priceless! I’m totally with you. I’m an INFJ and a Enneagram 4 and no matter what you call it, I’m frustrated as ever professionally, mostly due to a corporate worldview that specializes in grouping people into static behavioral taxonomies. If I hear someone say “our senior leadership team” on more time when they’re simply referring to Bob, Marguerite, and Jim that happen to work from the offices in the corner in our giant company of 100, I’m going to start making choking noises on cue. Never mind the matrix the HR department just circled around with everyone’s MBTI type that’s taken the test thus-far.

          Or my boss, who’s a radically different type than me (and called his spouse during our first one-on-one meeting ever to ask her what his type was when I asked in passing (because it seemed like an obvious company norm they were pushing). He never asked me my type. This was unfortunately the first of many signs of tone deaf communication. (Sighs deeply).

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I think there’s a big difference between zodiac and MBTI, though. Zodiac is basically saying “Because you were born in this month or this year, you will necessarily have such-and-such personality type,” whereas MBTI is saying “Because you self-reported that you’re such-and-such personality type, you’re such-and-such personality type.”

      1. Macedon

        Yes, but at least your zodiac sign is largely stagnant and those who genuinely believe in horoscopes have a tendency to make their daily forecasts come true through subconscious initiative. MBTI assessments are volatile, rely exclusively on self-reporting and those who believe in them can’t help if their perception of some of the tested values changes over time (thus also changing their assessment).

      2. On the Phone

        Yeah, but zodiacs are acknowledged to be a matter of personal feelings and nothing more, while people like to paint myers briggs as having scientific validity when it doesn’t.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          What kind of scientific validity is it supposed to have? It’s completely self-reported. It’s just a way of classifying things. It’s the equivalent of saying “I don’t eat meat. I don’t eat seafood. I eat a lot of vegetables. Thus, I’m vegetarian.” There’s nothing scientific about the classification “vegetarian.” Same deal with MBTI. You answer a bunch of questions about your perceived behavior and preferences, and then MBTI just applies a label to it.

          1. A Cita

            Self reported measures are still held to the same validity and reliability standards.

          2. Macedon

            Except MBTI is used by some institutions to determine your prospects for a particular role or the general track of your career. Some folks factor this test into their decision-making. OP is at the very least factoring it into framing their understanding of the perfect manager of a small company (and possibly hoping to guide themselves based on the MBTI type that Alison might have recommended).

            1. Anna

              Exactly. There’s this weird reliance on the Myers-Brigg and other personality “inventories” that large companies are using to determine if you’re fit for a promotion or a particular role. If you’ve ever worked retail and taken that “would you let someone steal food if you knew they were hungry” tests? That’s a personality test and they are basing their hiring decision on how you answer. It’s not exactly a great way to do hiring or promotions or anything having to do with personnel, really.

              Book recommendation (highly critical of the idea of personality tests of all kinds, but eye-opening on how pervasive they are, so grains of salt should be taken): The Cult of Personality Testing by Annie Murphy Paul.

              1. Graciosa

                I have had MBTI testing in large companies (and elsewhere), and in every instance it was clearly identified that this was *not* intended to be used as you describe (to determine if an individual is suited for promotion or a particular role).

                On the contrary, every MBTI session I’ve had has warned *against* this. It’s intended to measure our tendencies, which is a very different thing from behavior – and behavior is what counts in the work place.

                We are also warned that we cannot use our type as an excuse. My job is my job – I don’t get to say as a manager that I don’t talk to people because I am introverted, or can’t be expected to be considerate because I’m a thinker.

                I can use the self awareness resulting from the assessment and related training to manage my performance myself (for example, by managing my schedule), and that’s valuable enough for me and my employers.

            2. Mike C.

              Not to mention the millions of dollars spent on these exams. That’s pure waste.

          3. Mike C.

            There are pretty clear ways to tell if something comes from the animal or plant kingdom. You can repeatedly check this and find that someone hasn’t moved from one classification to the other.

            This isn’t the case with MBTI, but many in the business world sell it as if it were something useful and consistent.

      3. fposte

        As somebody who lived through an earlier wave of zodiac popularity, I can tell you they worked culturally the same way–they were how many people defined themselves professionally and socially. Enneagrams (as A Cita mentioned) haven’t had quite the same popularity as either, but it’s pretty much the same thing–it’s a way of defining how you interact with the world. They’re all useful for illustrating the different ways people relate, and it’s a good eyeopener to realize that what motivates you isn’t what motivates everybody. Just don’t spend a lot of time or money on it.

    2. LBK

      Say what you will about astrology but weirdly enough I have found that I invariably relate better to people who are the same sign as me. There was a moment at one of my old jobs that was kind of like the scene in that movie Identity when they realize they all have the same birthday – my closest group of coworkers and I were discussing zodiac signs and realized we were all Virgos.

    3. esra

      I’m pretty sure you want Capricorns. Every month, nothing but horoscopes about our careers.

  7. College Career Counselor

    Came to echo that MBTI is more about ‘preferences’ than about immutable personality characteristics. I type as a “T” on MBTI. Many, many counselors (including those of the career variety) probably type as “F” but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do the job, do it well, or that I find it totally draining “working against type.”

    I’ve got more than enough empathy to do this work (you don’t stay in this field long if you don’t have empathy for students), although there’s a reason I do this and not, say, traditional psychological counseling.

    1. Pam Adams

      Yep, I test as INTP. I fell into college academic advising by accident, and love the career and the talking to many students every day. (Of course, at the end of the day, I go home to aloneness with cats to recharge.)

  8. Jaydee

    While I think there are many traits and skills that can make a person an effective manager, I think a lot of time there is too much emphasis on some single, external, definition of what a good manager looks like. In reality, there are traits and skills that are certainly helpful, but the exact mix for any particular job may be very unique.

    For example, someone who is introverted (but friendly) and who is very good at focusing on the steps needed to achieve big-picture goals may actually be a great manager for a team that tends to be very social, extroverted, big-picture thinking, creative types. As a manager, they can complement the strengths of their team and balance out the weaknesses. The manager of that team may need to help rein team members in if they start getting too wild with ideas and may need to help set time-frames and constraints for deliverables. The team can make beautiful teapots and have a great time doing it. The manager can make sure that 1,500 beautiful teapots actually make it out the door to the annual gala for the Teapot Appreciation Society without breaking the budget or causing Wakeen in logistics to finally make good on his threat to quit if he has to stay late to overnight one more shipment of teapots that should have been shipped a week earlier.

  9. Unicorn Horn

    It’s getting to the point where I feel like Myers-Briggs may be one of the most overplayed things on the internet since Rick Rolling.

    1. Caledonia

      I’ve never heard Myers-Briggs being used over here in the UK. When people talk about it on forums, I just skip over it.

      1. Key to the West

        My large UK company uses it casually (well my department does anyway). Not too much focus is done around it other than a “fun” get to know yourself type activity.

  10. A. D. Kay

    The MBTI is completely meaningless and has no scientific validity. You might as well get your palm read.

    1. Troutwaxer

      My father had a Ph.D in psych from UCLA and he thought the Myers-Briggs was a poorly designed and poorly researched test, though he didn’t quite phrase it that way… his opinion was expressed in much more sophisticated and technical terms; but I knew mild contempt when I heard it. If the MBTI has any value at all it’s because it starts people talking and considering their weaknesses and strengths in terms which are similarly defined for all the people using them.

      In short, it’s a poor test but a good conversation starter.

  11. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    I feel like threads that reference MBTI need to include an asterisk at this point: *We know you think the MBTI is useless. Let’s not let the whole comment thread become stories about how useless it is and how much you hate it.

    Here’s how I think about it: the MBTI is a tool. Regardless of its scientific validity, people can use it effectively to reflect on their preferences, attributes, skills, and personalities. I help to run a leadership development program focused on professional renewal. We use drumming, rock climbing, singing, archery, cooking, poetry, labyrinths, and campfires to spark reflection about values and work. We also use more traditional tools like the MBTI, values assessments, exercises about power and privilege. None of them work for everyone, but all of them work for someone, and they all spark useful conversation and consideration.

    1. neverjaunty

      I think the reason you get so much pushback on this is that, in fact, people don’t see it as a tool or as a way of determining operational preferences; they see it as what you “are”. In fact, that’s what LW is doing. Lots of people who aren’t [fill in MBTI preference here] care about hourly workers being five minutes late. Depending on the situation and company culture, that can either be a sign of diligence and caring about responsibility, or it can be nitpicky. Drilling into whether the LW “is” a particular personality type so as to be good manager material is unhelpful.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Who cares, though? Let’s say the LW (or anyone else who uses the tool) identifies with a type and sees it as “who she is.” Why does that matter to you? Or to this discussion?

        I could see the point in pushing back on the MBTI if the LW (or anyone) was insisting that it was important to know her type, that type mattered when selecting managers, or something like that. But she’s not. She used a tool. She identified with some of the traits highlighted in the tool. She asked a general question about managers and personality types, which Alison answered while pointing out that MBTI types aren’t necessarily meaningful to the question.

        1. A Cita

          I see your point, but to be fair, the LW did ask which specific types are good for managers and was not just using it as a tool. And I think that’s what’s triggering the responses, because the way the question is asked is very reductionist (no fault to the LW, just pointing it out).

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Yeah, I was thinking about that as I wrote that response to neverjaunty. I think I’m reading the question differently than others are. It sounds like you (and most folks) read the question as “What MBTI type (or other branded personality assessment type) makes the best managers?” whereas I read it as “What personality attributes do good managers have?”

            “Type” carries a specific meaning in the world of MBTI, but “personality type” in the rest of the world is a fairly general concept that people use all the time. If my colleague said “Ooooh, I don’t think I’m the right personality type to join the picnic planning committee,” I wouldn’t assume she meant “Only ENFPs are good at planning social events,” but rather “I’m not good at planning social events.”

            1. A Cita

              LOL to your last sentence. Love the picture it’s painting! Now I’m imagining everyone in the planning committee chanting ENFP! ENFP!

              Yeah, I think the mixed reading is because Alison answered it as if the LW asked, “What personality attributes do good managers have?”

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                I just realized that the LW asked an even more specific question – she did ask directly about MBTI types. I glossed over that entirely and read the question as Alison wrote it in the headline.

    2. OP

      Yep, looks like a disclaimer would have been a good idea. After the rookie year I have had, I was reflecting on whether a different personality might have had more (or less) success or handled things differently. I decided that Alison might have some good thoughts on this, and she did.

      I found the MBTI useful in helping me see how others may approach change, the factors that they use in weighing decisions, etc., and I think it has helped my be more thoughtful and intentional in how I do work.

      Do I have INTJ tattooed on my arm? Nope, that would be more of an ESFP thing to do…

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        lol!

        I tend to find most assessments useful, because they provoke my own thinking. I’ve taken the MBTI several times (and test consistently as an INFJ, although I resonate more strongly with INFP attributes), as well as StrengthsFinders, Insight Profiles, etc.

    3. Florida

      Agree. The point is not whether MBTI is a good or bad personality test. The point is whether or not there are certain personality types (not MBTI types, but types in general) that are better at managing.
      I think we can all agree that there are different personality types. There are introverts, extroverts, cool people, dorky people, nice people, assholes, etc. The general question is whether certain personalities are better at managing than others. The discussions about the validity (or lack of) of MBTI isn’t relevant to that conversation.

    4. Ann O'Nemity

      I read the question and expected a great discussion on manager attributes, and I’m disappointed to find so many anti-MBTI comments instead.

      1. catsAreCool

        I’m disappointed by the anti-MBTI comments too, but not surprised. The comparisons to astrology and palm reading are particularly annoying.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          The comparisons to astrology and palm reading are particularly annoying.

          Yes, but I’ve now realized there’s no point in arguing with people who make such comparisons. It’s a self-reported “test” that applies some labels to you to help articulate preferences and tendencies. It isn’t fortune-telling. It’s also not supposed to be some kind of scientific predictor of anything.

          1. Mike C.

            there’s no point in arguing with people who make such comparisons

            This is kind of insulting. This goes for Ann O’Nemity and catsAreCool as well.

            The only thing I’ve done in this thread is provide a evidence showing how these test don’t deliver on their promises, and question the claims of those who support these exams. If you have other evidence you’d like to point out then who is stopping you? I haven’t made any personal attacks, I haven’t treated others with disrespect, I haven’t used language I wouldn’t use in front of one’s grandparents or religious officials and so on.

            No one says you have to agree with me. But if you’re going to complain about posts I and others are making, you should at least be willing to engage with the people you’re complaining about. And for the record, there is plenty of reasons to counter the points of others – you can change minds and you can explore the issue at depth. I’ve certainly changed my mind when presented with a new perspective.

      2. Ultraviolet

        Yeah, I was pretty interested in that conversation and I wish there was more of it! That said, I can see how if people wanted to address the OP’s question directly (rather than Alison’s response), the validity and utility of MBTI is extremely relevant. I hope OP (and other prospective letter writers) don’t find the comments discouraging. I really appreciate the question, and Alison’s response!

    5. LBK

      Completely agreed. I see personality tests as a form of guided self-reflection. I do think certain things like Myers-Briggs have taken a bit of a foothold within our culture to the point that they do get used in an overly rigid, prescriptive manner, but I don’t think that means it’s necessary to condemn all forms of their usage.

      I found the personality test I took very helpful in guiding my career; I was kind of all over the place in terms of where I wanted to go since I was in a jack-of-all-trades role that didn’t naturally lend itself to a certain path. Taking the test helped me solidify which elements of my job really spoke to my personality the most and then seek out jobs that matched.

    6. Mike C.

      No, pseudoscience should be challenged wherever it rears it’s ugly head. It’s not about showing off how smart we think we are, it’s about not tolerating snake oil. It’s sold as something more than it actually is and that leads to harm for others.

      Claiming that it “works for some” is like relying on a broken pocket watch to tell the time.

  12. EmilyG

    FWIW, I am also INTJ and find it pretty accurate for me, but regardless of type, there are two things I’ve found helpful for working on the parts of managing that don’t come naturally.

    1. Imagining that Manager is a role I’m playing where I don’t 100% act like myself. Essentially, fake it til you make it. If this requires you to fake 95% of your personality maybe being a manager isn’t for you, but maybe it’s a 5-10% twist on how you act when you’re totally yourself at home.

    2. Practice. Having difficult conversations gets easier when you get used to it and when you see the positive results. Also, if you have frank conversations with staff it normalizes it for them, too, so it doesn’t come off all fire and brimstone to give them some feedback.

  13. Meg Murry

    My personal take on MBTI is similar to the old “have to make a decision? Flip a coin, and whether you are happy with the coin toss results or upset with the results will tell you your true feelings” test. So if your MBTI results say “you seem to be the type of person who does A, B and C” you can either say, yup, that’s me – or you can identify as “A and B but the opposite of C”. Either way, the final INTJ or whatever doesn’t mean as much as what you do with the results of the test.

    The other thing that OP and Alison don’t touch on here is that while they’ve identified which traits may help or hinder them to be a good manager, the other part of recognizing yourself in your MBTI type is to look at whether you would enjoy being a manager [the way managers work at your company], or whether you would technically be a good manager but miserable doing it.

    I look at MBTI as unscientific, but rather as a way to narrow down some of the self identification. So, for instance, OP tested as an introvert, and agrees with that assessment. However, what makes someone an introvert is that interacting with other people often takes a lot of energy, whereas extroverts tend to thrive on interacting with other people. Now OP needs to look at what that means to a manager in her company/industry. Does that mean that OP would be spending a large part of her day or week dealing with and interacting with people? While that may be mildly exhausting to an introvert, OP needs to look at herself and decide “Is this going to be a little draining, but I can deal with it?” or is it a “The idea of spending 6 of my 8+ hours a day in meetings and one-on-ones and interacting with other people seems exhausting to me and my own personal definition of hell – I’d rather stay an individual contributor where I can close myself in to my desk/cube/office with my headphones on and dive into my spreadsheets for multiple hours a day.” That’s where the “good manager” part came down for me – I think I am probably capable of being a decent manager, but it would so totally drain me if I had to do it the way it was done at my last company, where managers in my division spent 80%+ of their week in meetings (either with other managers or with their individual team members), and almost no time spent doing individual work (or they had to do that individual work at night or on weekends in order to get it done).

    So my advice is: first, look at if you agree with what MBTI is telling you about your personality and if you agree with it (and it’s ok if you don’t). Then look at what being a manager would require you to do that is both part of your strengths and part of your weaknesses, and how that would effect your overall happiness. After all, if you are technically good at being a manager, but hate it – how long would you last as a manager before you burnt out and wanted to go back to being a sole contributor, or would want to go find a company where you could be a manager in a way that’s more “your style”.

  14. TootsNYC

    This:

    * a willingness to make hard decisions, including ones that might be unpopular (like cutting a program that isn’t getting the results you need or firing a well-liked employee

    Is a good one for me to hear today. I just got word I’m supposed to cut my budget for supplementary freelancers by 25%–about a third of the way into the year.

    I tend to try to avoid making people unhappy, and I think I let myself chicken out if I think my staff is going to object. But I’m going to have to deal with it.

    1. TootsNYC

      came back to say: I can have conversations about “what went wrong” easily bcs I don’t consider those tough.

      i can have tough conversations about “you’re not doing well enough.”

      But the “I have to make your job harder because other people are cutting my budget” are hard for me.

  15. Adam

    I laugh because just last week my entire organization took the MBTI (well, a free online version) as well as the Strengths Finder quiz (the actual one). HR used it to create color coded wheel maps of each work group to highlight the various strengths and personality traits at play in our departments.

    What really highlighted the variation of these test though was that in my small direct work group myself and one other person came up as INFJ’s. That’s interesting enough on it’s own as INFJ I believe is supposedly the most rare type, but when you compare our individual strengths as well we’re near completely different: she being adept at strategic thinking and planning maximization and me being a “doer” who likes to fix things.

  16. Leah the designer

    I just camw here to say, “Whooo, INFJ!” As an INFJ who dated an INTJ it was really striking how many traits we had in common. As we got to know each other better it it became clear our thinking process did have some striking differences. He did things in such an analytical, sometimes painstakingly patient, way where I kind of just made decisions and went for it.

    I think understanding myself has helped me grow as a person, which should be useful to yourself in polishing up your manager shine. On the other hand, I question putting it on a resume, because I would rather see achievements in managing (I.E. results) rather than a theory to how a person will act.

    Good Luck!

  17. Temperance

    I’m also an INTJ. My biggest struggles are with empathy and understanding that other people are not as cold and logical as I am.

    1. NotAnotherManager!

      Heh. I have described myself as “practically Vulcan” nearly my entire life. Testing consistently as an INTJ was no real surprise.

  18. OP

    OP here, thanks to Alison for posting my question. I don’t mean to put too much emphasis on MBTI, it is just something that has made my first venture into management a little easier to handle. I have had quite the soap opera during my first year here and I was sitting in my office wondering, “If all else was equal, what type of management personality would have made things easier for me over this past year?” Really just a rhetorical question that I was considering as I mapped out the things I would use for small talk fodder (I always have something ready in case I need it, I know that this is weird.)

    Regardless of its validity as an assessment tool, MBTI has pushed me to take into account that people think and react differently than I do. And knowing that I can come off as cold and distant has led me to try and compensate with morning small talk and socializing before I get absorbed in something for the day. I have been making it a point to thank people more often too. I care a lot about my staff and I don’t want my natural inclinations to leave people feeling disconnected or unappreciated.

    Thanks to everyone for the good discussion.

    1. Tara R.

      Yep, I had the same experience in the opposite direction; it literally never occured to me that my “thinking out loud” style of communication & tendency to interrupt in excitement might cause friction with people. Learning about extraversion/introversion was another big one. I was so miserable in middle school and the beginning of high school; when I started making an effort to spend more time around people in an experiment fueled by MBTI results, my mood did such a 180 I became a different person. MBTI was also the first time that I put words to my focus problems or inability to finish things– it’s thanks to hearing the words ENFP that I’ve managed to reduce so many of my “typical ENFP” flaws tbh.

      I could have gotten the same results from talking to people at depth about myself & them and the differences between people, or maybe by thinking deeply about a tarot reading, or perhaps by reading a really good book that provoked some self-reflection. But I didn’t. (Also those “Types in [situation]” posts are hilarious and I don’t care if they’re accurate or not; it’s like silly zodiac predictions, but more likely to actually fit me since my ‘type’ is based on things that I said about myself.)

    2. Not So NewReader

      Management personality vs. management style. I like the discussions on management style, because different situations call for different styles. For example, if a room catches fire, there is nothing wrong with the boss acting like a dictator by directing everyone to safety. “This way! We can go this way!”

      However, in a different situation, such as a huge rush of work, the boss might need to take on more of a service style of management, by making sure everyone has what they need to keep the work flowing.

      Style is an extension of the personality already in place. The person does not change personality just because the circumstances have changed. But the person may use a different style in order to navigate the circumstances. In the fire example, being an introvert has no bearing because it is up to the boss to help her people get out of the building, period. Yes, an extreme example that does not happen to most people. But a good example for pointing out that even if you know your shortcoming and your strengths you still have to figure out how to handle situations.

      My thought is take one situation at a time. What did you like about how you handled it? What did you dislike about how you handled it? What will you do the same way in a similar situation and what parts will you change if you face a similar situation? I did a lot of the autopsies like this until I found my path through things. Honestly, evaluating situations all the time this way was exhausting. I did it on my ride home or sometimes I worked on it at home. It was so very worth it. I was able to line up some consistent methods to use. In other cases, I was able to handle the next situation in a sharper manner or with more finesse. And yet in other cases, I was able to figure out things that would stop a recurring problem.

      I tend to think that looking at management styles can be more of a helpful tool than looking at personal strengths and weaknesses because thinking about styles can be instructive about different situations managers encounter. Whatever my weaknesses are I must work to buoy them up and whatever my strengths are I need to harness them in the best way possible. I felt that I needed to cut to the chase and figure out how best to handle the wide range of situations that can come up in one day.

  19. irritable vowel

    As a manager (and not an expert one by any means), the one thing that I try to keep in mind is that I am also the managed, just like my staff. I think about how much I like to be given autonomy, but that I also do well with some structure. Not everyone is the same, of course, but trying to be empathic and neither hover nor disappear are good qualities for any manager, IMO.

  20. Chaordic One

    You really can’t say that there is such a thing as an ideal personality type for a manager? Different people bring different things to the table, although some personality types might work better for some specific work cultures. One of the best managers my company ever had (in terms of profitability and morale) quit because even though he managed very well and effectively, he said it was something that he just sort of fell into and found out that he could do. He said he really didn’t like managing and didn’t want to do it anymore and so he quit and moved onto a different job at a different company.

    1. Mike C.

      If there was, this entire blog would be useless, and there would be no need for such things as training or education or experience. People would either have the “right personality” or not. Since that isn’t the case, and all the other issues with such testing means that the whole “personality” thing is really a loaded statement.

    2. TL -

      Yes to this – and not even culture but desired outcome and purpose of the work team.
      You’d want a different set of management skills to coach the Bruins than you would want to run an AA meeting. Same thing applies to workplaces.

  21. Argh!

    re: frustration and tone

    I have worked in workplaces where honesty and expression of frustration are okay. Now I work in a workplace where nothing uncomfortable is said and any expression of frustration is considered shocking and reflects badly on the person who is frustrated, not the roadblock who makes life difficult.

    I thought I was adapting to this, but my boss seems to be intentionally being a jerk toward me to needle me, but only in private of course. In our last one-on-one she refused to answer a question on how to handle a situation and instead blamed me for having the situation (a normal type of situation – in the category of things that happen to anyone) and even tried to tell me that I’m the only person this has happened to.

    I had suggested a solution that I thought was a good idea and just needed her okay on it, and she took it in a totally different direction then blew me off. She said she’d get back to me “later,” which means she’ll forget all about it. My staff needed an answer so I just used the solution I had proposed. It should not have been a big deal and now besides feeling frustrated I’m also in no hurry to talk to her again.

    1. Argh!

      The thing that really ticked me off is that she kept smirking as she needled me. She would say totally ridiculous things then seem pleased with herself for getting a reaction out of me.

    2. designbot

      I’ve had to make that transition too, and frankly it took me a long time to learn that the answer to “How are you doing?” is never “oh, surviving” (which is my dad’s habitual answer to that question and has been for decades) but always “Great! I’m so excited about such-and-such.”
      Anyway, I’d encourage you to reframe it from “I can’t answer honestly if I’m frustrated” to “Part of my job here is to not pass my frustrations on to others.” We all have frustrating experiences and bad days, and not speaking up about them doesn’t change the fact that everyone in your workplace already knows that. Rather it shows that it’s a level of frustration you can handle, vs. a level that is something to be concerned about. If you engage in frequent low-level venting (which to you probably feels like just giving honest answers), then in an environment like this one that gives off the impression that you can’t handle your work effectively, when that’s likely not the case at all.

  22. Vicki

    Speaking as a certified MBTI practitioner who has been interested in the MBTI for over 20 years and who has studied it a LOT, the answer to this question is “There is no ideal personality type for a manager”.

    There may be a statistically more common personality type found among managers in a given job / company / department. But there is NO ideal personality type for _any job_.

    And please note that it is against the Ethical Guidelines of the MBTI for practitioners to use the MBTI in making hiring or career decisions. It’s one thing to say “this is a Type that tends to like science and math” or “this Type often finds happiness in counseling or coaching”. That’s not the same as “Given your type , you should be an architect”. This is not the world of Divergent (Veronica Roth).

    Yes, people misuse the MBTI (or the knockoffs more likely) all the time and some practitioners don;t push back when a manager wants to use it in an inappropriate way… but that’s true for pretty much anything.

    1. Mike C.

      Oh, this explains a lot.

      You talk about being interested in this for over 20 years and being certified in this, yet you haven’t heard a thing about how this test has been completely debunked by the psychological community? That the traits “tested” for don’t actually have bimodal distributions? That it was based on some thoughts by Jung that even he said were extremely limited and that this was before psychology was treated as an empirical science? That the creators of this test have no formal training in psychology or the sciences in general, and that this exam remains little unchanged despite the huge changes that have occurred in psychology in the past 70 years?

      I’m only getting started, should I continue?

      This test is garbage that doesn’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny and repeatability, nothing more and nothing less.

        1. stevenz

          Mike is right. It’s not a valid test. It’s more of a parlor game and should be treated as such.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Well, enough people with no stake in the outcome find it genuinely helpful that I don’t think the “garbage” label is fair. Scientifically unsound — sure. But I think “garbage” ignores many people’s good experiences with it.

        1. Troutwaxer

          Hopefully this won’t devolve into a smackdown between the pro and anti MBTI folks. For myself, I used to do Tarot card readings – totally unscientific, right? – and the people I’ve read for got out of it exactly what they put into it. The people who used it as a conversation starter and laid themselves open to making changes and accepting some outside input got enormous benefits from the cards. The ones who couldn’t get into humble-mode and think about their problems and accept outside input, not so much, you know?

          Do you need to be more outgoing with your coworkers? Or maybe keep your mouth shut and be a little more thoughtful? Something to think about, right? And some of us will think about it and some of us won’t.

      2. Tara R.

        MBTI is silly & fun & holds the same role in my life as my Hogwarts house. They had all the gifted kids take it in elementary school and it was the first time in my life that I really understood that different people valued different things from me. It’s made me think about how I can respect different personality traits & eased communication with people who think differently than me. It might be scientific garbage, but I’ve had positive experiences with it. My profile fit me really well, and it gave me language for some of the flaws I have, allowing me to find strategies to mitigate them.

        I am a Gryffindor & an ENFP if anyone is wondering. Scientific drivel, but fun in an internet quiz/putting vague categorical labels on people in your life kind of way.

        (Sidenote, if anyone felt like taking a peek at Sunday’s open thread, I made a late post asking for some advice haha.)

    2. Three Thousand

      It’s one thing to say “this is a Type that tends to like science and math” or “this Type often finds happiness in counseling or coaching”

      But if that were the case and these claims were tested in any way other than people deciding whether or not they agree with a bunch of Barnum statements, the test would have predictive power and it would make sense to recommend that people should be architects or whatever based on the results. This sounds a lot like religious apologists who are always trying to hedge their bets on scientific evidence of deities.

  23. Vicki

    There is a book, “MBTI® Type Tables for Occupations”, which includes 404 tables (2nd ed) showing the relative frequency of each personality type employed for a wide range of occupations. This is statistics, not guesswork. From chefs to clerical to engineering, individual contributors and managers. Most occupations have a statistically higher number of some Types vs others, but I doubt there are any that have no representation by one or more Types.

    1. Mike C.

      Who gathered the numbers? How do you know that these are proper randomly chosen samples? Are there any confounding variables? Are there controls for gender, race, mental health and other issues? Are any of the tests repeated to ensure that classifications remain the same?

      How is this little more than p-hacking and taking advantage of cultural norms or statistical variation?

      1. Florida

        Mike, we understand that you are adamantly against the Myers-Briggs. Other commenters (like me!) support your position. You are not going to convince some people no matter what you say. There is no reason to continue to pound on the same nail.

        1. Observer

          Yeah. But when someone who apparently has an ax to grind tries to “prove” that this is valid, I think it’s worth a response.

          I didn’t mind that the OP mentioned it, and I didn’t think that most of the discussion about how useless it is was terribly useful. But this is a bit different.

        2. Mike C.

          This post specifically is different from the others. Statistics is incredibly tricky and one needs to be very, very careful in how the experiment (or perhaps poll in this case) is designed and then how data is collected and interpreted against a control. Simply saying that you have a book with numbers that claim to be statistically significant and nothing else isn’t very convincing.

    2. Observer

      >>This is statistics, not guesswork <<

      The two are not mutually exclusive. Mike C. pointed out some of the questions you really need to ask about any set of statistics. In this case, I'd add some others. Like: How does the author know what MBI Typel people are? As others have noted, many people classify differently at different times, and in different scenarios. Did anyone check to make sure that all of the assessments were recent, taken under similar circumstances and using the same types of scenarios? How was the information gathered? Is if possible that there may have been misreporting for whatever reason? (Depending on the source of the data, I could see a number of ways the raw data might not be valid, even without worrying about sample size, controlling for confounding factors, etc.)

  24. pumpkin scone

    Oh, this kind of reminds me when I’m interviewing people and they ask me, “What kind of manager are you?” It’s a legit question, I’m sure, but I’m really not sure how to answer it. If I could just give my MBTI, maybe that would be easier, lol.

  25. stevenz

    Of course you know that the Meyers-Briggs test has never demonstrated any scientific validity.

  26. MathOwl

    The way I see MBTI is as a tool among others. For some it works and rings true, while for some it doesn’t. Likewise, some find paper planners work well to organize themselves, while others prefer to rely on an electronic calendar or their memory. It may not be scientifically sound, but if the tool works for me and makes me more self-aware, that’s what counts in my eyes.

    If MBTI helps me learn from my strengths and weaknesses and improve, then it serves its purpose whether I’m trying to become a better manager, a better friend or better at managing my finances, motivation or mood.

  27. NaoNao

    I am an INTJ, which is extremely rare for women (only 2% of women test as this type!) and my biggest challenges have been with connecting with my peers or colleagues in a natural, genuine way. I used to work in retail and was a favorite of my manager because I never, ever caused “drama”. I remember being genuinely baffled by that and asking him “What drama can there be at work? You come in, you work, you get your stuff done, you leave.” He almost fell over laughing.
    Now I tell people I would happily work in a lab in a bunker without seeing a single other person all day. Kidding/not kidding. :)

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