I grew up with three siblings’ and two parents who talked a lot. My wife and children describe me as the most gregarious in our nuclear family. When my siblings visit, my wife and children notice that I can’t get a word in. My work environments were full of people who were verbally expressive also. It is analogous to dining with a group of hungry people. If you don’t grab food, you’ll starve.
I loved that energy. We were so creative. Staff would build on each other’s ideas. It was like improv: “yes and”! I; the excitement and enthusiasm generated during meetings was exhilarating. Being in settings like this was great for me because I lean toward extroversion. However, something was missing: the thoughts of the people who were not talking. As leaders we tend to hire people who think, and act like us. Few people disagree. Isn’t that great? No!
Organizations with a heavy dose of like-minded people are out of balance. I believe what I need to hear is much more important than what I want to hear. In the middle of a lively discussion, I would stop the meeting and ask for input from the quiet ones who were processing the ideas in their heads. When they finally spoke, they asked thoughtful questions that exposed the gaps in our logic and offered potential implementation strategies for the ideas worthy of pursuing.
Personality test are not panaceas but can help organizations get back in balance. One of the most popular is the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator (MBTI). It parrots Romans 12:6, we all have different gifts. The MBTI test attempts to categorize people’s decision-making processes based on the following continuums: 1.) Extroversion-Introversion, 2.) Intuition-Sensing, 3.) Thinking-Feeling and 4.) Judging-Perceiving.
There are 16 MBTI personality types. According to my assessment score, I tend to process information from an EN/STJ perspective I.e., Extroverted, Intuition/Sensing, Thinking and Judging. Since it’s on a continuum scale this is how it is interpreted: my Extroversion is moderate, intuition and sensing are even, and my thinking and judging are strong. Therefore, I must particularly be mindful of people who process information from feeling and perceiving perspectives.
Bottomline: I don’t recommend making hiring decisions based on personality assessments. I would rather use them to take advantage of the talent in your organization. For me it meant listening to the quiet ones. I’m so glad I did because it paid dividends. What can it mean for you?