Me and Stephen Hawking, We’re Like This

A few weeks ago, I took a class at Microsoft called Situational Leadership. We have a training team that offers different types of classes in house so you can take classes in subjects ranging from technical skills to time management. I had heard good things about Situational Leadership so I decided to take it.

In short, the class was awesome. It's too bad that right now it's just being offered to people managers. It would be so valuable for anyone who has to do any kind of work with anyone else. It's all about being aware of how people relate to work tasks from both a motivational and a competency standpoint. I'm not all touchy feely but this was good stuff. Anyway, during the class, the instructor mentioned Myers-Briggs. I've done assessment exercises that put you into one of four quadrants. I tend to end up in the director/doer space (it's called different things in different models). Anyway, understanding that Myers-Briggs adds some more depth, I made a note to seek it out and saw something in a magazine mentioning where to take an assessment online. And then I got busy.

My buddy Sunish sent out a mail today with a link to a quick version of the test. So I thought I would take it and decide for myself if the results sounded like me and if they did, perhaps invest the time in taking the longer version. The questions themselves made me want to thank the writer of the test for asking. Yes, I do need to try things for myself, yes I like to act immediately and of course I'd rather read a book than go to a party...that's just me. Anyway, I took the test and the results came back with INTJ...what they call a "Mastermind Rational". Don't let the mastermind part fool you. I'm pretty sure that it refers to people that like to make decisions behind the scenes. According the write up, it's pretty rare. I don't think I am surprised at all though because some of my social habits are very different than others; especially my preference for e-mail over phone (quicker, easier to control) and the fact that I don't like to physically draw attention to myself (I'd rather get attention for my work results) and that I place the most value in getting things done even if they are experimental (hey, at least you tried something new...good for you, risk taker). It's a wonder I ever got into recruiting in the first place. Recruiting is a breeding ground for extroverts but that just isn't me. And so here I ended up leading a team that finds candidates that our recruiting partners get pats on the back (from the hiring managers) for bringing on board. That's the beauty of the situation...I'm totally OK with that. Let's just get great people on board. We don't need the glory, let's get the job done. I found the right job for my personality type. Lots of go-go-go, less dog and pony show (than other jobs I have had in the past).

The most telling thing in the assessment, to me, was the part about contingency planning (hello...the disaster preparedness kit!). I've been trying to get over my "glass half empty" nature being a major character flaw. Any idea, I always seem to focus on what could go wrong. It doesn't matter whose idea it is. I always try to predict the roadblocks that will keep us from being successful. I have always seen that as a flaw because it can manifest itself as negativity, but really, it's contingency planning. I still think the ideas are great. In fact, it's because they are great that I want to figure out how to make them successful. I wrote recently about risk taking. Think about how exhausting it can be to take risks and do the contingency planning thing. And this is why my friends tell me I need to learn how to relax. I know this. I'm going to work on learning how to chill 20% and dealing with the fact that this is how I am 80%.

On the plus side, I am the queen of brainstorming (I'm more creative than analytical and I have a need to be heard...outside of the brainstorming scenario, it can be plain annoying/'s that for a little self-awareness?). It's one of the things I love most about my job. We get to do that a lot in our roles. And it's fun turning those ideas into reality (especially the ones that actually end up working).

Anyway, if anyone else take the test, tell me if you the people reflected on your results page are mostly historical figures. I'm kind of fascinated by the idea of there being people who had/have some of the same personality inclinations turning it into success in their lives. Of course, I could have saved myself the trouble of taking the test and just referred back to what my grandmother told me about myself as a child: "you were the only 5 year old with an opinion on everything". Little did she know, I was predestined to blog.

Comments (27)

  1. Phil Weber says:

    Looks like I’m almost your exact opposite: ISFP. Most of my results page people are pop culture celebs: Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Bob Dylan, Jackie O (!). The only historical figure is Mozart.

    Question: If a person were interested in joining your training team, where would they send their résumé? I know this guy at Yale who can bench press 500 lbs…

  2. I think a lot of the "I" types are rare because introversion is rarer than extroversion (duh!). Add in the rarer choices on one or two other areas and you get to one in a hundred or so.

    I’m an INFJ but was almost INTJ.

    lists a bunch of weblogs according to personality type.

  3. Gautam says:

    Situational leadership is what was repackaged by Gallup as "break the rules" 🙂

    By the way, am an INTP…an ‘architect’….conceptual and thinking people 🙂

  4. Lauren Smith says:

    Cool! I’m an ESTJ according to the test.

    Me and Lucy van Pelt. WooHoo!

  5. tod hilton says:

    The quick test says I’m an INTJ, but a more involved test we did as a morale event at work put me in the ISTJ category. I think I’m definitely more of the Sensing variety than the Intuition type. I can be intuitive, but I tend to default to practical, realistic facts.

    Some famous ISTJs are George Washington and Evander Holyfield.

    I find this stuff very interesting and enjoyed it when our team went through it together. It was a great learning experience.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Phil, it makes sense that entertainers would be onthe opposite end of the chart from me. I admire people that are so agile in social settings. Not me! Did you see the "spotters" on the bench press. When your spotter is grimacing, I’m guessing you aren’t actually lifting the weight.

    Anita-that’s interesting. I am going to spend some time on that site. I do wonder if introverts are more or less likely to have blogs, relatively speaking. My guess is more. It allows social interaction without in-person interaction. Extroverts probably still need to in-person stuff. Hence the "blogg meet-ups" (none of which I have ever attended).  What do you think?

    Gautam-are you sure? The training I did wasn’t really about rules at all. In fact, kind of the opposite: it’s about being flexible to adapt to peoples work styles.  It was based on Ken Blanchard’s work.

    Lauren-now I am going to have to look up Lucy Van Pelt. I am so dense when it comes to history (with all the schools I was in, I never really got a good history curriculum).

    tod- I could have told you the *I* part, based on our conversation. I could definitely see you being the practical type too. That totally makes sense. Did your team do it as part of a training? If so, what was the training? Maybe I’ll take it if it’s available. I’m pretty interested in this stuff too now.

  7. Gautam says:

    I meant that the idea of situational leadership that you have to change as your subordinate matures and becomes more competent and that you don’t have to treat everyone the same is what Marcus Buckingham and gallup also stated as a "counter-intuitive" logic in their book "First, Break All the Rules"

  8. John Davies says:

    Welcome to the INTJs.

    When I first took the test I sent the description of INTJs to my niece to read to see how well it matched. She quit reading part way through because it fit me so well that she was freaked out.

    It must have been the part about romantic relationships and how they are an INTJ’s downfall. It was like they were following me around before writing the description.

  9. RJD says:

    I think Lucy van Pelt is the Lucy from "Peanuts" comics, who always pulls the football away from Charlie Brown just as he’s about to kick it.

  10. RJD says:

    It’s me and Bill Gates, ENTJ (Fieldmarshal General).  "Hardly more than two percent of the population," we’re born leaders.

    Far from the first time I’ve ended up with a Bill comparison after one of these tests.  FDR and Napoleon, too.

    There is a certain personality trait with these tests that tends to throw them out of whack.  Whatever personality type has a hard time talking about their emotions tend to answer the questions not necessarily true, but which seem more wallflower-ish.

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Gautam-that makes sense.

    John-I didn’t read that part. Sounds like something I need to know about. I’m scared! Are they a downfall because you have to actually be nice and talk to the person and ask them questions about themselves? I am so in ept when it comes to the small talk!

    RJD-Hmm, OK. I didn’t realize she had a last name! Funny that you mention about the out of whack thing. I’m not someone who generally talks about my emotions (I don’t think we get into deep emotional stuff on the blog), however, I answered the questions on the test about emotions honestly, but some people may not answer all of them honestly. I think the problem happens when you aren’t willing to be honest with *yourself* and you answer the questions how you want people to see you, not how you are. As if there’s someone who is going to check your answers. The outcome is only as accurate as your ability to admit how you really are. SOme of us focus on our flaws, unfortunately, so it’s not that hard to be honest about our shortcomings…we figure people already see them anyway. You make a good point though…it can be misleading as there’s no way to validate your answers.

  12. John Davies says:

    From this page:

    Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ’s Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.

    This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship). To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. 🙂 This sometimes results in a peculiar naivete’, paralleling that of many Fs — only instead of expecting inexhaustible affection and empathy from a romantic relationship, the INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.

  13. Vicki says:

    I like being compared to George Lucas and Caesar myself… At the same time, I found it a bit disturbing that there were no female INTJers listed here:  (Woo hoo! Yes, I am a fellow INTJ! Welcome to the geek club!) 😉

    Do I get a prize or something for taking the Myers-Briggs test? No?

    Don’t judge me, I’ll judge you.

  14. Bad_Brad says:

    I worked at Amazon before I came to work for Microsoft.  Amazon was BIG into the whole people development thing (much bigger than Microsoft is).  It’s one of the things that I miss about that company.  At any rate, they had several Situational Leadership courses that they put all people managers through.  I found them very useful.  I remember thinking about the eight people who worked for me and thinking that I could classify at least one of them in every one of the four stages of development.  It really helped me understand that a "one size fits all" management style was not going to work and that I needed to adapt myself to the stage that each was in.

  15. HeatherLeigh says:

    John Davies- Um, yeah. OK, that just about sums it up. Someone please send that to my parents and tell them not to hold their colective breath(s) : ) Yowza! I knew the small talk and impatience had something to do with it. Bookmarketing for future reference : )

    Vicki-we can judge each other…it’s in our nature! Hilarious!

    Bad_Brad- that is exactly my take-away from the class. My team is small but bery diverse in stages/styles. I definitely think the class has made me a more thoughtful communicator in the few short weeks since I have taken it.

  16. tod hilton says:

    It was a team-building event where we hired a coordinator trained in the Meyer-Briggs methodology. A few weeks before our meeting we all had to take a long (200+) questionaire similar to the online one you reference above. Then she came on site for an afternoon to explain our results, the different types and we did exercises that emphasized how each type communicates and interacts. It was a really good morale event…one of the better ones I’ve had.

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    tod-that sounds awesome. I’m not sure why I want to be analyzed so badly. Maybe we all just want to be understood : )

  18. Steinkamp says:

    My company has completely embraced Sit Lead.  There are a variety of courses related to it and they have been extremely valuable.  We even have a survey that is taken by our direct reports every year that helps us assess how well we as managers are doing with regard to the model.  It really helps us to avoid the extremes of managing from a distance when your people need direction and micromanaging so tightly that there is no room for entrepreneurship.  Good stuff!

  19. Steinkamp says:

    By the way – I’m an ENFJ.  "Teacher Idealist".  Me, Honest Abe, Martin Luther King and Oprah – we’re like this.

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    Steinkamp-is that survey from a third party or did you guys do it in-house? Id love to see how we can push the concept out through some of our teams.

    My mom is an ENFJ as well. You, Abe, MLK and Oprah…sounds like a fascinating dinner party. Don’t forget to invite me : )

  21. Steinkamp says:

    I think we customized it in conjunction with The Blanchard Group. (Ken Blanchard and Pals)  By the way your mom can come to the dinner party too.

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Naturally. She would have made a fabulous dessert for it.

  23. It’s really funny.  I remember taking this test (and a few others similar to it) a few years ago. I always returned INTJ profile.  I hardly considered myself an introvert but the description did seem to match me perfectly and the descriptions of others that took it matching them equally as well.

    As a goof, I decided to take it again this time and this time I got ENTJ.  Reflecting on the past few years since I originally took the test, I can somewhat see how that could have happened…

    Always an interesting exercise I find to not only learn more about yourself but it is also very helpful to learn the same about those you work with.

  24. Russ says:

    INTJ – you, me, Rob M., Gerry C.

    Myers-Briggs – it is an instrument, based on work originating with Carl Jung, then later Isabella Myers

    *test denotes pass/fail and there is none only an indication of your traits/behiaviors. Many people gravitate away from instruments because they have a deep seeded feeling they will "fail the test"

    I – introvert, many people think that means you can’t deal with people when in actuality it means you recharge in solitary pursuits

    Situational Leadership – Blanchard’s very infamous technique of tailoring the style of leadership to the persons level of readiness.

    I have taken MBTI, 12 times and the expanded version 4 times. It changes as you do and is worth it. The primary reason you don’t hear more about MBTI is that there is a shortage of practitioners certified to facilitate the administration and feedback on results.

    MBTI has been a point of interest for me for oh….20 years.


  25. HeatherLeigh says:

    Amanda-I think that people expect introverts to be huddled inthe corner during social situations. I know that I can appear rather social on occassion (usually when I know plenty of people in the room), but I *need* my alone time. I’ll have to look at the difference between E and I. It’s good to know that your results can change, I assume depending on your environemtn. circumstances.

  26. DanF says:

    A little late to the party; ENTJ here.

    Interestingly enough, I took this type of exam twice last year (two different providers) and then this is the third time (again, a unique provider) and every time I’ve scored ENTJ.

    I honestly didn’t believe these things would be this reproducible. I figured it was like a horoscope, "Oh, you’re a born leader" or something where they just write whatever you want to read about yourself.  Pretty slick though.


  27. HeatherLeigh says:

    Dan-I think there’s actual social science involved : )

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