Interview with Mike Shur, Product Marketing Manager of CPP
Mike: What stands out for you in the first training you delivered?
Neil: I remember thinking that I needed to know everything in the Manual prior to the training and I was pleasantly surprised at how effective the training went even though I just covered the foundational MBTI principles. I also remember how positively the group responded to the material and the activities.
Mike: Describe your most successful MBTI training. What made it so?
Neil: Several come to mind, but one stands out based on the amount of change in attitude toward the MBTI instrument and principles. This was a group of about a dozen cardiologists. This group had a reputation, history, and baggage. Two of my colleagues shared with me that they wouldn't enter a room with them by themselves. The director had wanted to do Myers-Briggs work for a couple of years, but was met with strong resistance. These men were men of hard sciences. They were brilliant intellectuals and had little time or respect for the “soft sciences”.
I was originally brought in under the guise of doing some mission, vision, and values work. In our second session, we were discussing various values this group would like to adhere and uphold. The concept of teamwork was offered for consideration and a handful absently nodded their head. I dutifully wrote “teamwork” on the board, but then someone spoke up and brought the group to another level, “But can we purport a value that we do not currently practice?” This led to a tentative, but rich discussion concerning the group's lack of trust with each other and lack of communication. The chair wrapped up the session with this question, “It would be nice if there was a tool that helped us understand each other and get to know each other better. Is there anything like that?” I couldn't have scripted it any better.
We proceeded with the Step II Interpretive Report and I met with each physician to review and interpret their results. I only got a half-hour with each doctor, but for most it was enough time to verify their results and validate the tool and process. Two examples stand out from the individual interpretations.
One cardiac surgeon was questioning his introverted results. We were discussing his “contained” facet result and I asked whether there are times when he is operating if he is frustrated at his staff because they can't read his mind. “Absolutely!” We discussed that under times of stress he may even have difficulty articulating what he needs. His reply, “I couldn't remember the word 'scalpel' last week.”
Another instance involved a physician with a slight “T” preference and very mixed results on his T/F facets. He had strong T scores on the logical and reasonable facets, and moderate F scores on the accommodating, accepting, and tender scores. I asked some clarifying questions and we worked through these seemingly contradicting results. He stated it like this, “I either like you or I don't. I'm very black and white that way. I can tolerate mistakes, but I can't tolerate excuses. Own up to it and let's move on. With those that are teachable, I find that I can be encouraging and kind.” He was impressed that the instrument was able to capture the complexity and nuances of his personality.
Because we were able to get buy-in through the individual interpretations, the group was much more open-minded to applying the principles to the group and their interactions. One group “A-ha!” was that there were several introverts and only a couple outspoken extraverts. This little nugget of insight helped the group recognize and change some of their communication patterns.
I'd love to say that this work ended in a group hug, but the fact is that this group still had some issues to work through, but what made it successful in my book was that this skeptical, intellectual group now saw the value of interpersonal discussion and dynamics and the power in the MBTI tool.
Mike: Can you recall a personal MBTI “a-ha!” moment? Have you seen others have their “a-ha!” moments?
Neil: Personal...It's hard to choose just one because they happen on a weekly, if not daily occurrence, but the big one came when I went through my qualifying program. In college and in my early career in the counseling field, I consistently typed out as an ENFP. Later, I typed out as an INTJ. And I asked the trainer if type ever changes. She explained that type is somewhat innate and that it may take awhile for an individual to understand themselves and recognize their true type. I remember bristling at that statement and muttering to myself that I have a BA in Psychology and Sociology and an MA in Counseling...I think I know myself. But I found the trainer's statement to be true. I am an INTJ, but had been in environments more conducive to ENFPs. I could operate as an ENFP, but when I'm at my best I'm in preference as an INTJ.
Fully embracing my internal analyzer, I explored my feelings towards the clients I had worked with through the years. I could be empathetic, understanding, and emotional. But what really helped me differentiate my T/F preferences was how I viewed my clients. I came to understand that I was more interested in my clients as “cases” rather than people. I still cared for them, but my preferred approach was analytical and problem-solving in nature.
In others...“A-ha”s happen in every workshop I conduct. It's what I find so motivating. Again, several stand out, but one in particular was very impactful for the individual and her workgroup. I was working with a group of nurses and I was wrapping up our half-day workshop by having participants share with the group one or two insights they gained. One ESTJ nurse was a preceptor who worked with newer nurses to help mentor them in their role. She shared that she thought she should step down from her role as a preceptor because she was recognizing that she may have a “my way or the highway” approach to teaching and didn't know if that was most effective in the preceptor role. The feelers quickly jumped in and assured her she was great and effective, but I asked the group to let her share and allow her to make her choice. A newer staff member was in the group who had worked under this particular nurse and I asked if he felt comfortable sharing. He bravely shared that he had found her somewhat rigid and had richer learning experiences from other preceptors. I helped bring the point home that self-awareness is one of the first goals of the MBTI and that this individual's insights not only saved herself further frustration in the preceptor role, but also saved her group the awkwardness of having a conversation about her ineffectiveness. It was a powerful moment.
One more brief insight...One ENFP mother stands out when she recognized that she and her introverted teenage son have two very different definitions of quality time. She shared that the two of them would make friendly wagers over golf and that his recent wager was that if he won, she had to sit and watch a movie with him and not do anything else - she couldn't knit, iron, fold laundry, fix snacks, or talk. She just had to sit and watch the movie with him. “I now realize that engaging in a quiet activity with him is quality time.” I know that insight was going to be impactful on their relationship going forward.
Mike: What inspires you about delivering MBTI training?
Neil: It's knowing that the experience is going to have an immediate and positive impact on their personal and professional lives. I have seen this happen over and over and over again and I never tire of it. I love the insights, the laughter, the understanding, and the occasional tears. This information has the power to transform lives and I consider a privilege to be a part of that process.
Mike: Is there a developmental area that you specialize in, such as team building leadership development, or individual development? How does the MBTI play a role in this area?
Neil: In addition to doing MBTI workshops and individual interpretations, I have a consulting company called Life IQ. One of the niches I work in is developing first-time managers. One of the common mistakes new managers make is not having a strong self-awareness. Everyone needs to have a strong self-awareness, but it is especially detrimental if you lack self-awareness in a management role because you conduct your job on a stage. The ramifications of the self-aware manager impact every conceivable aspect of the role. I use the MBTI Step II Interpretive Report to give new managers an in-depth understanding of their type, as well as suggestions on how to handle situations and personalities outside their preferences.
Mike: What words of wisdom would you offer someone who has just gotten qualified?
Neil: Take any and every opportunity to do Myers-Briggs work. Immerse yourself in the theory and it will come to life for you. When I started doing individual interpretations in a previous organization, they had a plethora of Step I Interpretive Reports they wanted to use up. I love the Step II Interpretive Report because it spells everything out for you. But, in using the Step I Interpretive Report, it forced me to hone my interview skills and highlighted the value of follow-up questions, preference examples, and listening to their stories. I also appreciated the tip of putting a face or two to each one of the 16 types to help bring each one to life when talking with clients.