At AIE we don’t officially use personality inventories for hiring, but we have found knowing the personality types of the staff helps us understand how people think and operate. It started when I picked up the original version of David Keirsey’s “Please Understand Me.” This book puts all personalities under 16 possible different types. Keirsey described the strengths and weaknesses of each personality with insightful information as to what careers fit those personalities. This has given us tools to put people into the right work environments to thrive.
Comically, Jeremy and I are exactly 180-degrees different in our personalities.
As you can imagine, our opposite personalities cause each of us to scratch our head at decisions made by the other. Early on, it lead to a lot of arguments over business theory and practice. After a few years of putting up with learning from each other, we now informally toss difficult tasks to each other, making the most of our differences.
Often, a task that seems difficult for one of us fits perfectly in the other's skill set. This makes for oil in the system, so now the “difficult” tasks can be shouldered by another with the same level of authority. In this way, our opposite personalities have made moving the business forward so much easier.
Understanding your personality makes all the difference.
If you have ever wondered, like I did, why you feel alone in the world by the way you think and act, get the book by David Keirsey and find out your personality type. You may find that you are a rare personality type — I found out my personality is found in only about 1% of the population! I can now feel sympathy for the INTP, and understanding my personality in relation to others in the business has enhanced my productivity.
Amazingly, task achievement is heavily based on personality.
We all tend to gravitate to the easy tasks and procrastinate on the difficult. The problem is that small business needs a few people to attend all tasks.
In a one-person business, growth often stops at the capacity of the lone owner to address the difficult tasks. If the lone owner has less than stellar self-discipline, business growth will be a hard climb.
I don’t remember at what point Ben and I decided to take what was a comparable version of the Meyers-Briggs test, but it wasn’t too long into the beginning of our business start-up. There are glaring differences in our personalities which have been noted by family and peer groups, and were becoming more obvious as we began working together in the business. With that, we thought it would be interesting to unfold our personality types on paper.
And the results came back:
There are 16 types of personalities, according to Isabel Meyers.
The odds are fairly astounding that we literally don’t cross over in any of the four dichotomies. This gave a fresh perspective to why there are obvious differences in the way we interact in meetings, talk with colleagues, analyze data, and process decisions. And, it wasn’t until we took this test that it shed light on the why behind how we handle situations the way we do. What used to be frustration in seeing the way Ben responded in certain situations became opportunity to understand and leverage those differences in our personalities as assets within our company.
Ben’s INTP personality is a major asset to AIE.
In particular, he excels at breaking down complex situations in a way that makes it relevant. This ability applies in both our business strategy as well as when architecting solutions for our clients. He is also an abstract thinker. He notices patterns and can understand the big picture clearly, allowing him to link concepts quickly. Practically, this manifests itself in how we adopt technology and best practices within our organization as we traverse through the ever-changing technology landscape. With this ability, we avoid stagnation and remain on the forefront of technology adoption.
Another of Ben's major strengths is his honesty and straightforwardness. At times, this can be interpreted as cold or unwelcoming. It's not. He simply does not play games and means what he says. This objective, rational thinking allows him to leave emotions out of the way and remain impartial with his decisions. He is not easily offended either, as he prefers people to speak the truth to him in a straightforward manner as well. This makes it very easy for me to say what I mean and mean what I say.
Ben is very open-minded, so long as there is logic and fact-support evidence behind the concepts.
His thoughts are constantly flowing and he is always ready to bounce ideas around with our business dealings. He is supportive and willing to adopt ideas.
By embracing the opposites in our personalities, we innovate faster and remain pliable in finding the best solutions to each challenge we face. We have a true ambidexterity in our business dealings. What some see as bipolar, I see as the most holistic approach to top-down leadership.