The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® or MBTI ® was developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers.  Their work on the indicator started in 1942, prompted by the devastation and destruction of the Second World War which, in their opinion, was caused at least in part by people not understanding differences.  Katharine was very interested in the work of Carl Jung (1875-1961), a Swiss psychiatrist who had written about personality types.

Briggs and Myers shared a vision "to enable individuals to grow through an understanding and appreciation of individual differences in healthy personality and to enhance harmony and productivity among diverse groups."  They wanted to make Jung's work and writing accessible and useful to ordinary people.  To this end, the MBTI can help people have a greater self-awareness of their own personality and similarities and differences to other people. 

MBTI is a personality inventory, not a test.  It cannot and should not be used for recruitment or selection.  It does not measure levels of skills or aptitude.  Where it is very useful is for self-awareness, personal development and in team-building and understanding. 

All individuals are unique with their own DNA, family background, education, experience and environment.  However, there are some personality characteristics that can be described.  If these characteristics or behaviours are recognised and acknowledged as different from our own, rather than assume everybody thinks and acts like us, then misunderstanding or conflict can be avoided.  If differences are actually appreciated and diversity valued, we can all benefit.  Isabel's book "Gifts Differing" (see the Bookstore ) refers to a chapter in Paul's Letter to the Romans in the Bible where he writes about each of us having different but valuable gifts.

An introduction to Type Theory follows.

Type Theory 

Jung initially observed that there are two types of people: extraverts who direct and gather their energy from external stimulation of people and events; and introverts who direct and gather their energy from internal stimulation of thoughts and experience.  He proposed that there are two basic mental functions: gathering data, which he called perceiving; and making decisions based on that data which he called judging.

To perceive, Jung proposed that people mainly use either sensing (the senses, facts, detail etc) or intuition (patterns, hunches, the big picture etc).  In making judgements on data, people mainly use either thinking or feeling.  Briggs and Myers later added a 4th dichotomy of either a perceiving or judging attitude to the external world - sometimes expressed as a preferred lifestyle.

It has to be emphasised that we all use all four mental functions of sensing, intuition, thinking and feeling.  And we all relate to both the external world and our inner world.  What the MBTI ® does is suggest which mental function is dominant or most strongly developed; we have natural preferences.  The MBTI then describes the second or auxiliary balancing function, followed by the third or tertiary and finally the least developed function.  Type dynamics refers to the manner in which these functions inter-relate and type development discusses how we develop in our use of all the functions as we mature, including the development of our 'shadow' side.

Through the pattern of 4 pairs or dichotomies emerge 16 personality types each described by 4 letters.  In a team situation and with each individual giving permission to do so, these types can be mapped for a team and the distribution discussed.  A team will have strengths and weaknesses depending on how diverse or homogeneous is the distribution of Types.

The usual process of taking people through the MBTI is a self-assessment workshop, a questionnaire that is analysed by the administrator or by the individuals depending on the form used, individual discussions with the qualified administrator and then possibly and with agreement, a group discussion.  Only official forms and stationery should be used (provided in the UK through OPP).  While the questionnaire can suggest an individual's personality type, they are the best judge of their 'best fit' and should be encouraged to make that choice. 

Contact us for more information on the MBTI and its usefulness for your organisation and for your people so that they flourish in the work-place.

A short introduction to the Management Team Roles Indicator or MTR-i follows.


The Management Team Roles Indicator or MTR-i ™ was developed by Steve Myers (no relation to Isabel).  Using a workshop, questionnaire and discussion approach, team members are encouraged to identify the roles they are expected to perform in the team.  Eight possible roles have been described by the MTR-i and the concentration or absence of particular roles will suggest consequent strengths and weaknesses in the team.  

Team roles can be compared to individual's MBTI® profiles and the degree of 'stretch' from their natural preference to their required role.

A further refinement is to use a 360 degree appraisal process to identify or suggest the Ideal Team Profile and compare that with the team's assessment.

Contact us for more information on the MTR-i and its usefulness for your organisation and for your people so that they flourish in the work-place. 


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This work by Peter Kenworthy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

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