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We have no right, wrong personality

Self-awareness is very important because, if one doesn’t know oneself better, it is difficult to know others and even lead them. Some people say, “You can’t give what you don’t have yourself.” ‘Self-assessment and personality types’ was one of the modules during a recently held video conference on leadership dynamics for senior women leaders organised by Tanzania Global Development Centre (TGDLC) and Kenyan Institute of Administration (KIA).

Expounding on selfassessment and personality types, a Kenyan trainer, Annette Oturi, said it was important to know personality types in order to understand better the people one worked with. She said Selfassessment was a process through which one learned about oneself and others. “Personality types are based on some assumptions.

They are dynamic and not static; environment can shape the personality type; all personality types are equally valuable; people with similar personalities give strengths and not variety and people of different personality types give variety and interact,” she noted. She said there was no wrong and right personality because personality types were not predictive behaviour.

“Understanding one’s personality makes one’s perceptions clearer and makes one’s judgement sounder,” she said. She explained that temperament was inborn traits that affected behaviour (hereditary factors) depending on race, ethnicity and so on; personality, she noted, was “the face we show to others – that is, what we are showing” and character was the civilized temperament education – “the way you are brought up.”

To help understand oneself better, one may try to answer the following questions. What is your typical reaction to new challenges? What are your greatest strengths as a leader? What critical aspects do you want to improve as a leader? Which situations are most intimidating to you? Research shows that different personality types tend to have distinct preferences in their choice of careers. Oturi introduced what is called ‘Myers-Briggs personality type indicator’.

According to this indicator, people show underlying personality patterns from the dynamic interaction of their four preferences in conjunction with environmental influences and their own individual tendencies and so are likely to develop their behaviour, skills and attitudes based on their particular type.

Each personality type has its own potential strengths and areas that offer opportunities for growth. Myers- Briggs personality type indicator was developed based on Swiss psychiatrist and influential thinker Carl Gustav Jung (1875 –1961). Jung had developed a personality typology, which began with a distinction between extroverted and introverted people.

Extroverts are generally outgoing – they prefer their external world of things and people and activities. Introverts are generally reserved – they prefer their internal world of thoughts, feelings, fantasies and dreams. Whether extroverts or introverts, Jung suggests, there are four basic ways of perceiving the world around us: The first is sensing – getting information by means of the senses. The second is thinking - evaluating information or ideas rationally, logically.

The third is intuiting – perception, which works outside of the usual conscious processes. It is perceptual, like sensing but comes from the complex integration of large amounts of information, rather than simple seeing or hearing. The fourth is feeling – evaluating information, this time by weighing one’s overall, emotional response.

In all of these, each of us has a dominant function, which one prefers and is best developed in oneself followed by a secondary function, which one is aware of and uses in support of the dominant function and so until the last one. Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers found Jung’s types and functions so revealing of people’s personalities that they decided to develop their personality type test.

The test has four scales. Extroversion - Introversion (E-I) is the most important. Each type is identified by four letters. ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to one of the sixteen personality types.

The MBTI preferences indicate differences in people based on the following: How they focus their attention or get their energy (extraversion or introversion), how they perceive or take in information (sensing or intuition), how they prefer making decisions (thinking or feeling) and how they orient themselves to the external world (judgement or perception).

Myers-Briggs grouped personality types according to their cognitive function: the ‘thinking type’ grouping for those with dominant thinking, the ‘intuitive type’ grouping for those with dominant intuition, the ‘feeling type’ grouping for those with dominant feeling and the ‘sensing type’ grouping for those with dominant sensing.

The MBTI tool consists of multiple choice questions that sort respondents on the basis of four dichotomies (pairs of psychological opposites). Sixteen different outcomes are possible, each identified by its own fourletter code, referred to by initial letters. (N is used for iNtuition, since I is used for Introversion).

The MBTI is approximately 75 per cent accurate according to its own manual. by their interaction with people. They tend to enjoy a wide circle of acquaintances, and they gain energy in social situations (whereas introverts expend energy).
S – Sensing preferred to intuition: ESTJs tend to be more concrete than abstract. They focus their attention on the details rather than the big picture, and on immediate realities rather than future possibilities.

T–Thinking preferred to feeling: ESTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference. When making decisions, they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations. J – Judgment preferred to perception: ESTJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early.

They derive a sense of control through predictability. It is good to look for the personality type test questions to know in detail these personality types and identify one’s probable personality based on one’s average scores. So, the workshop was an eye opener on personal assessment and discovery. Without knowing oneself better, it is difficult to know others. A leader has to know himself or herself and know also his or her workmates – their strengths and weaknesses so that he or she may help them grow and deliver more.

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