Do you have what it takes to be a manager?
Experience, office politics or the untimely departure of a senior worker may give you an opportunity to take a few steps up the ladder to a better paying or more prestigious job. But is that the best move for you?
It takes all kinds to make the world go round, or so the expression goes. Specifically, according to those who study people for a living, it takes 16 types.
Psychologists have identified 16 personality types that can be drawn from the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the most widely taken personality test in the world. The MBTI, as it is commonly known, is a self-administering questionnaire based on the work of famed psychologist Carl Jung.
Getting to know yourself before tackling a management position can be helpful, according to Hile Rutledge, chief executive officer of Otto Kroeger Associates, a Virginia-based management consulting firm, who specializes in using the MBTI as a training tool.
Testing for Traits
The MBTI is not an aptitude test. It doesn't examine skill or ability, but rather what a person prefers to do. The theory behind the MBTI is that we all have hard-wired personality traits that are as much a part of us as left or right-handedness.
The test can help you maximize your abilities and minimize your liabilities by identifying your sources of energy as well as areas where you feel most confident and competent, Rutledge says.
The test has been around for 50 years, and the most research done on the test has been in the realm of relating personality type and (suitable) careers.
Rutledge stresses that the test is a tool and, like many tools, it can be used incorrectly. "Too many people use the test as a prescription. They say 'Oh this is your personality type, this is your style. You should do x, y or z.'"
"Just because we have a preference for [one personality type], doesn't mean that we can't perform in the opposite realm," he insists.
That being said, if you're stuck in a job that's not a fit, it can often lead to increased stress, fatigue and lack of confidence. This stress can accumulate and harm your well being, he cautions.
The test identifies personality types in terms of four scales. Two of the four scales measure traits considered essential to being a good manager.
Thinkers and Feelers
This scale determines how an individual prefers to make choices. Thinkers look at problems objectively. They use cause/effect logic to bring about clarity. Feelers make subjective decisions. They attach their own personal values. Feelers push for harmony. The population is generally split 50-50 between thinkers and feelers. "There's a big bias for managers to be thinkers," Rutledge says. "Management positions tend to attract, then reward and promote objective, analytical decision-makers."
Judgers and Perceivers
Judgers are into structure, closure, order, scheduling and planning. They make up about 55 percent of the population. Perceivers are more open-ended, more tentative and adaptable. They like to ask questions and gather information.
There's a strong bias for managers to be judgers, not perceivers, according to Rutledge. Worldwide studies have shown that thinkers/judgers make up about 24 percent of the population. But they fill about 62 percent of the management positions. In fact, over 90 percent of the world's chief executive officers who have taken the test are thinkers/judgers.
"Our mental model of a leader is someone who can structure and organize and be directive and tell people what to do, and be objective," Rutledge explains. Thinkers/judgers either tend to gravitate toward leadership or are promoted to it.
"We tend to clone ourselves on the job. When I go to hire someone to work with me or replace me I tend to hire myself. There's a lot of inbreeding," he points out.
If a feeler/perceiver ends up in a management position, one of two things usually happens. Over time, the non-thinking non-judging manager will be labeled as ineffective or inefficient and be removed, or she will quit on her own. Or she will learn how to play the game and develop her non-preferences.
"If you are a feeler and you can see that the rewards are given to people who prefer thinking, whether you know it in those terms or not, you can learn how things need to be done," Rutledge believes. Part of the training he does is in helping people develop the other side of themselves. "People learn how to function in their non-types."
Sometimes not fitting the mold is good, he adds. Being a feeler in a management position will make your judgment style different from most of your colleagues. "In certain companies or certain systems that could also be a breath of fresh air."
"Just when you're at each other's throats, a feeler can step in, say the right words, and build a bridge between people," Rutledge explains. Such individuals, being more attuned to feelings, are usually acutely aware that they could also be losing out by not being a thinker.
Here are some examples of management jobs and what type may fit them best. Rutledge cautions that you will find successful people of every personality in a variety of management roles. So the test should never be used to dissuade you from pursuing your goals.
Sales Manager. Extroverted, energized by the outer world of people, places and things. Typically talkers. They're also intuitive and gather information by looking at the big picture. They look to the future and its possibilities as an abstraction rather than being limited by the here-and-now reality.
Customer Service Manager. "You want to be oriented toward helping, listening and settling problems, providing resources and helping people. You either have to be motivated by that or at least have a good skill set at it," Rutledge says. "People who have one or more of those qualities are more often than not feelers/judgers."
Marketing Manager. Marketing managers, or others in a field that requires creativity, are intuitive. Rather than focus on the details of here and now, their focus is on the future and making connections from patterns. But you'll find all personality types in this field, Rutledge adds.
Office Manager. Office managers are "sensing," the opposite of intuitive, and they are also judging. As sensors, they're into details, facts and figures. As a judger, they push for structure, closure and order. "The sensing/judger is the ultimate project manager," according to Rutledge.
To take the MBTI, Rutledge recommends a face-to-face consultation with a qualified counselor. The cost for this may be as low as $50. Otto Kroeger Associates has a free database of 40,000 counselors qualified to give the test and discuss the results. Go to typetalk.com and call or send them an email with your zip code, and they can tell you whom to contact.
The book, Type Talk At Work, by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen, is being released in its second edition this month and can be ordered at any bookstore.
Test your management potential at these websites:
- 2h.com/personality-tests.html - A fun website with several psychological and IQ tests.
- Humanmetrics.com - Has free personality profile tests.
- Mirrorgate.com - A website devoted to self-discovery, includes free personality tests, and tools for personal development, empowerment and career planning.
- PsychTests.com - Free psych and personality tests. Click on "Career" for career related tests, which include a leadership test.
- Queendom.com - An internet magazine with professional-quality interactive tests, giving readers the opportunity to look into their own personality, relationships, intelligence, career and health. Click on "Career" for articles and tests, including a "Management Style Test."