Shame on the Washington Post for its one-sided article about MBTI yesterday and its thinly veiled criticism of using it for professional development in federal agencies (and no I will not give the courtesy of a link). The author uses a quote from a professor of industrial psychology at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School that equates the usefulness of the MBTI to that of the horoscope. After acknowledging that "A common line from supporters is that the test starts an important dialogue around who we are and how we interact with others," the author uses a quote from a Cambridge psychology professor who says “Insight from the Myers-Briggs can start that conversation, but unfortunately it often ends the conversation. You’ve got your type stamped on your forehead.”
For those who use MBTI to coach and develop others nothing could be further from the truth. We use the MBTI to help individuals understand their preferences on each of four dichotomies while reminding them that they use each side of the dichotomy each and every day. Knowing when you are acting in preference and out of preference helps you understand why some things are easier or less stressful than others. Preference never equates to skill and people can be skilled on both side of a dichotomy. We encourage people to learn when each side is needed and be able to use all eight tools in their leadership toolbox to be a more effective leader.