December 20, 2014

Leadership and the MBTI Step III

Janes bookJane Kise has written another fabulous book. In this newest offerring, she melds together emotional intelligence, psychological type, and brain science to help you discover what matters to you and how to resonate with these values.

The book begins by the reader choosing 10 areas that matter most out of 40 possible options (each one is described). Just a few of my 10 choices were adaptability, mentoring and challenge. Next, these choices are assigned to one of 12 lenses of leadership. For example, adaptability fell into the Planning vs. Flexibility lens. Each chapter explores a lens and shows the reader what optimal use of that lens looks like and what underuse and overuse looks like. Practical suggestions to sharpen that lens are then offered.

I also noticed that the book has some useful connections to my MBTI Step III assessment.   For example, mentoring was one of my values but one can over mentor by offering too many suggestions or by trying to prescribe a path for someone else that fits with my vision.   The suggestion on my MBTI Step III was, “Be sure those individuals need or want this advice.”

Yes true!  ENFPs are full of possibilities, and they often see the potential in others before anyone else.  The key is encourage the path but not dictate the path.  As my daughter once said, “Slow down on those ideas, Mom.  It’s like being in a batting cage but the balls keep coming before I’ve had a chance to swing at anything.’

Intentional Leadership is not only a good read like all of Jane Kise’s books.  It’s a resource to help you optimize your leadership style.


MBTI Step III for DVAPT/Next Step a Video?

Some of the participants from the “MBTI Step III in Nutshell” presented at the DVAPT. Thank you to meeting hosts Kathy Myers and Cindy Stengel Paris.

The MBTI Step III was the final piece of Isabel Myers’ dream to help people be at their best: to know their strengths and to to effectively work on their developmental challenges.  The Step III instrument was first published in June of 2009 and it quickly distinguished itself as an effective tool for coaching and counseling.  The calculations that are used to generate the report are complex, but the report itself is written in easy to understand language. Dialogue is the centerpiece of the Step III process.

Recently, I gave a morning workshop at the Delaware Valley Association for Psychological Type (DVAPT) on the MBTI Step III.   I was very grateful to receive this invitation from hosts Katherine Myers and Cindy Stengel Paris. The interest in the Step III was high and participants came from many areas to learn more about the instrument.

I started out by giving a slide show on the story of the Step III.  How was it constructed? What was the rationale behind the assessment?  Then I provided a hypothetical case example to set the stage for the a real life example, a client who had taken the assessment twice.   The curious crowd had many questions about the Step III which added greatly to the morning.

The final segment of the workshop was the real highlight though.  Bringing in my own Step III assessment, I asked Cindy to be me so I could actually show what the Step III looked like in a demonstration.  That is when the Step III really came alive.  For openers, Cindy did a great job showing how the dialogue could unfold from a client’s perspective.  She made it easy for me to demonstrate how a clinician could use the various Step III statements to bring about increased self-awareness, new perspectives, and energy for personal growth.  It was a very authentic portrayal of a Step III interpretive session, a great way to wrap up an energizing morning in Philadelphia!

Anyway, after the presentation, Kathy Myers stated that our demonstration brought to life what Isabel Myers hand in mind when she envisioned a tool for type development and positive personal growth.   You can’t imagine how I felt when I received that feedback from her.  I went in with the hope she would feel that I accurately portrayed the intent of the Step III. Thanks to the incredible help from Cindy, we really showed our workshop participants the enormous potential of the MBTI Step III.

So now… I think a video would be a perfect next step.  Why not show a larger audience what we did at the DVAPT?   Your thoughts?

NOTE: If you wish to view the slides from the presentation, click here DVAPT Step III in a Nutshell

3 Important Trends in the Use of the MBTI and Psychological Type

The venerable MBTI turns 70 years old next year.  In that time,  the MBTI has become one of the most researched, respected and widely used personality inventories in history.  It has remained relevant over 7 decades despite the emergence of other meritorious personality instruments. One reason for this is that there is always something new in the area of psychological type.

Here are 3 trends that I like:

1.  Increased emphasis on the introverted verus the extraverted manifestation of the mental functions (The 8 Cognitive Functions):  Rather than stating that an individual simply has a psychological preference for intuition vs sensing or thinking vs feeling, the distinction is regularly  being made about whether this is the an extraverted or introverted process.   For instance, introverted intuition is the process of internal visioning or imagining whereas external intuition is more like classic brainstorming.   These distinctions aren’t new,  but the nature of these distinctions are becoming more important and more clearly defined than ever before. This is no small difference especially because there is neuro data to back up these distinctions.

2. The EEG findings of Dario Nardi on brain activity based on the 8 cognitive functions.   Thanks to brain mapping and neuroimaging techniques, many theories about how the brain works have been confirmed or modified. A certain validation by skeptics is often bestowed if a concept of the mind, cognition or personality can be connected to findings in neuroscience using tools such as EEG, fMRI, PET scan. Dr. Dario Nardi has used EEG to measure the brain activity of  college students performing a variety of activities and solidly correlated these findings with the 8 cognitive processes.  (Read more).

3. The MBTI Step III.  It has long been acknowledged that the MBTI and/or the concepts of psychological type serve as a dynamic model of personal growth.   Your brain does not remain static in your type.  All of the recent data on neuroplasticity confirms that your brain continues to learn, adapt and form new connections.  The psychological type model asserts that healthy type development is defined by both well-developed natural strengths as well as knowing when one needs to operate out of preference.  The MBTI Step III is a recently released assessment tool that explores type development. (Read more).

These are my favorite important trends in the area of psychological type.   What are yours?


MBTI Step III: Why Go There?

What is the practical value of the MBTI Step III given that there are so many personality assessment tools on the market, including the MBTI Step I and II?   What is to be gained by using this tool over another?   Like anything else, choice of tool is usually based on at least 2 factors:  What information is desired?  What is the skill and comfort level of the assessor using a particular assessment?

Prior to being a coach, I worked in several  hospitals, in 3 different states, as a speech pathologist.  Thus I was exposed to many different tests that targeted essentially the same brain functions, with a few nuances.  For example, I learned how to assess language loss using the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Exam (BDAE). It was an exam that I knew like the back of my hand.   I knew it so well that I could riff off of it and mine for or draw conclusions that weren’t explicitly stated in the exam.   Later in my career, I worked at places where the Minnesota Test for Aphasia (MDTTA) was most often used but to me, it always felt awkward.  Thus I dusted off the BDAE and used that instead.  I have found that struggling with the mechanics of too many different tests can actually make you less effective as a practitioner.

In 2010, I became an MBTI Master Practitioner mainly because I wanted to learn all I could about a system of assessing personality.  It is a dynamic system that not only assesses psychological preferences but it measures how psychological type can and should broaden as an individual matures.  In the same way that getting very competent with a few tools allowed my knowledge and wisdom as a therapist to provide additional benefits to my brain injured clients, likewise thoroughly understanding a single system of personality assessment gives me the flexibility to use my intuition to make the most of the results.

What?  Doesn’t that narrow your perspective?  At first glance, it appears that this could be the case.  However as long as one acknowledges that assessment tools are meant to be a starting point in a client-coach relationship and the rest is an evolving dialogue, then sticking to a few tools that you know well seems to make the most sense.  That isn’t to say that you ignore other angles.  Having a working knowledge of a number of tools and perspectives is an important part of professional responsibility.   However, I believe the client is best serviced by thoroughness and consistency when being assessed.

So what about this MBTI Step III?  The MBTI Step III measures psychological type development.  Whereas the MBTI Step I and II identify psychological preferences and facets, the Step III identifies not only how well you are using your preferences but how aware you are about using non-preferred functions in the appropriate settings.  Since psychological type is a dynamic model, learning how to use the Step III seemed like a logical next step.

How do I use the MBTI Step III?  I use it when a client wants to address personal development issues using type.   I have used it to help clients who are in a job search but seem to be getting tripped up because of a type-related blind spot.  I have used it to shed light on relationship and communication issues.    It’s a really useful tool because I know how it works, and I can fit it into a larger framework of reference.

Here is an example.  A client with preferences for ISTJ received the following statement on the MBTI Step III:

“You seems to prefer following tried and true ways of doing things and dislike situations that require you to stay open to new viewpoints…”

In this example, the client was looking for work but was trying to stay only within his previous industry which was essentially a dead end.  He had been encouraged by well-meaning friends to apply for many jobs that were nothing like his previous experiences. Acknowledging that the statement above was consistent with his ISTJ personality helped him understand why just applying for anything might not be his best approach.  However, in discussing this statement,  he realized that he could systematically and logically expand his search outside of his previous experience. He could do this without going to the extreme of trying anything, which would require a great deal of adaptability not usually found in this personality type.  Essentially, he could stretch and develop his personality type by using systematic logic to expand his openness toward new options.

Using the MBTI Step III was one way of getting to this useful insight and I can report that the client was energized by this revelation.   Moreover, this was clearly a type development issue.  ISTJ personality types have intuition as a 4th function so thinking big picture can feel like chaos.   That is why a practitioner should have a thorough understanding of the theory and lay-out of an assessment tool rather than a cursory understanding.  That way, instead of being wed to a tool in it’s literal form, you can use it in a flexible manner to get the most of what it has to offer.

Anyway, that’s been my personal experience over the years.   What are your thoughts?  Is it better to use a wide range of tools or stick to a few and let your professional skills and experience do the rest?


The Importance of Owning Your Goals

This is an article about client- centered goal setting and not about health care. However, spending 25 years in the health care business taught me something about the importance of setting  goals in collaboration with a client. For openers, in the absence of a measurable goal, you didn’t get paid by the insurance company. More importantly though, it helped a client and his or her family, navigate the waters of recovery.   Even if the individual had sustained a severe brain trauma, it was still beneficial to engage the family, and the client as much as possible, in the goal setting process.  It always improved motivation, sometimes a lot, and sometimes a little depending on the level of injury, but it was always important.

Proper goal setting translated hopes such as, “I want him to get better” to actual steps that would bring about change.   “I want him to get better” became “I want him to be able to eat at his favorite restaurant. From there, the steps to reach that vision could be constructed.  Perhaps the client needed to be able to get in and out of a car.  Or maybe he had to practice reading a menu so he could successfully order food at the restaurant.  Those activities became the steps toward making the hope a reality.

My new career as a coach draws on some of these same principles of goal setting.  The idea and the vision are always important but the more specific you can be about what you want, the easier it is to get there.   Equally critical is the motivation piece.  The motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic or a combination of both.  Usually, the more the goal resonates with one’s personal values or internal visions, the more powerful the motivation to reach a goal will be.  That isn’t to say that every task will be a joy but if it can get bundled into the framework of an overall goal that a client owns, the unpleasant nature of certain tasks can be minimized.

One the hardest parts about making a vision a reality is that visions feel so good.  Ideas and dreams are energizing.  Getting specific about the dream and setting forth goals to make the dreams come true can be a bit more difficult.  Where do you start?  Why do you want to do it?  What strategies and activities will lead you to successfully completing the goal?  How will you know you have accomplished the goal successfully?   These are the questions that a coach can help you answer.  The coach is a collaborative partner that helps lead you to greater insight, improved motivation, and ultimately success.


The MBTI Step III: Illuminating the Path to Healthy Type Development

The MBTI Step III is a tool that describes an individual’s progress toward healthy type development.  Psychological  type is not a static label but a dynamic path leading toward maturity of the personality.  At the Association for Psychological Type International meeting in 2011, Dr. Allen Hammer, one of the co-authors of the Step III instrument, listed these possible manifestations of inadequate type development:

  • One being a caricature of one’s type
  • Lack of awareness of one’s type blind spots
  • The tendency to blame others for shortcomings
  • Life stress and dissatisfaction
  • Reduced competency and performance

He also listed possible factors that can detour type development including:

  • Lack of faith in one’s type ( not seeing one’s type as being as valuable as another
  • Lack of acceptance by others of one’s type
  • Lack of opportunity to develop one’s type gifts
  • Lack of challenge to develop one’s type especially the 3rd and 4th functions

The MBTI Step III overview was a 3-hour presentation that covered the essence of the MBTI Step III instrument.  Allen Hammer and Sondra Von Sant, who teach the certification course, presided.  A panel of Step III practitioners including Charles Martin, Laurie Hillis, Sydney Courtice, and me added to the discussion by sharing case stories about how the this tool led to personal examination  of type development for various clients.  Through the discussion of the assessment findings, a release of psychic energy (similar to an “aha moment”) to address life’s challenges and goals is made possible.   Sometimes even one statement on the report can trigger a flood of insight! The panelists shared cases from both counseling and coaching perspective as the MBTI Step III is meant to address both scenarios.

According to Dr. Hammer, healthy type development has these 3 characteristics:

  • The dominant function is developed and used effectively.
  • A developed auxiliary functioning leading to a balance of perception and judgment
  • Awareness and comfort with the tertiary and inferior functions (Knowing when to non-preferred functions best suit a situation)

The MBTI Step III does provide the awareness piece that is so critical to making changes in one’s life.  After all, if you are blind to what may be holding you back from a greater and more satisfying life, it is difficult to decide what to change or how to do it!

For those who did not attend the APTI 2011 conference but would like to experience the Step III, there are several ways to get more information.

  1. Contact the Center of  Application of Psychological Type
  2. Join the LinkedIn Step III Group to join in a discussion, ask a question, or start a new discussion.
  3. Contact an MBTI Step III practitioner to learn more about it or even experience it yourself.

MBTI Step III in a Nutshell

Many people have encountered the MBTI either at work, at a career center, or in counseling.  Several online tests incorporate MBTI principles.  The MBTI I describes the broad strokes of an individual personality with the goal of identifying people with similar cognitive preferences.  The MBTI II (Form Q) serves to capture individual differences in people who have the same personality type. The newly released MBTI Step III measures how effectively you are using the unique qualities of your type.

The Rationale: Most of us are using only a fraction of our talents and gifts. In addition, we are frequently dissatisfied with home life, career choices, and relationships.  This can lead to burn-out, lack of motivation, or resigned acceptance that we are about as good as we are going to be in this lifetime.  With self-knowledge, energy is released and new paths and solutions are unveiled.  The MBTI Step III is a personalized road map  to begin this journey.

The Design : The MBTI Step III is a questionnaire that has 222 forced choice items that not only uncover an individual’s psychological preferences but also examines type development. How effective are psychological preferences being used so they are manifested as strengths in everyday life?  How are environmental factors influencing opportunities to use and develop psychological type? Ultimately overall satisfaction with career, relationships and home life hinge on effective use of psychological type. The MBTI Step III instrument generates both positive statements about what is functioning well  in an individual’s life and statements that might suggest a need to improve in a certain area.  While knowing your strengths and continuing to use them effectively is the best way to use mental energy, it is also helpful to know which areas need increased self-regulation, development, or assistance from others to optimize an outcome. The Step III is written in everyday language and serves as a springboard for discussion between a coach/counselor and clients seeking to uncover their potential.

The Theory: There is a finite amount of mental energy that one has available to take in information (perception) and draw conclusions about those perceptions (judgment).  How that energy is allocated, according to type theory, is based on psychological preferences.  The dominant function has access to the most abundant and readily available energy, followed by the auxiliary or assisting function, then the tertiary or third function, and lastly the inferior or 4th function (everyone uses all of the functions: sensing, intuition, thinking and feeling but at different levels of  frequency and competence, hence the terms: dominant, auxiliary and so on).   Effective use of type preferences insofar as perceptionand judgment are concerned  is often dependent on both theopportunity to use a a natural  function and support from the environment to foster it’s development. According to type development theory, “good type development”  is comfort and effectiveness in the processes that come most naturally to your verified type AND the ability to use the processes that go against one’s natural tendencies.  Knowing which process is most adaptive to the task and the ability to shift among preferred and non-preferred functions is also critical.

Applications: The MBTI Step III is a comprehensive inventory covering your approach to:  Yourself and Your World,  People and Relationships, Responsibility and Work, and Problem Solving and Decision Making.  It is newly released and unique in it’s scope and capability to illuminate what is working well for you and what isn’t and what to do about it.   It has the potential to streamline the coaching/counseling experience especially in the early stages of the coaching alliance. It is also a potential reference tool to return to when setting goals and evaluating progress.

The MBTI Step III is a stand alone instrument. There is no need to have taken previous MBTI assessments.  Step I and II data are an inherent part of this instrument and can be highlighted separately as needed. At this time, there are relatively few practitioners of the MBTI Step III due to the professional prerequisites required to become certified in the use of this instrument..

For more information: Coaches can contact me to assist in using this tool with clients on a consultation basis or interested individuals can contact me directly to take the assessment. MBTI Step III feedback sessions are available in person, via phone, or Skype. Current MBTI practitioners can also contact me if they are interested in learning more about the MBTI Step III certification experience (What did I learn? How am I using this instrument now?).  Inquiries about certification criteria and to sign up for the class can be directed to The Center for Application of Psychological Type/ .

Uncover Your Potential Featured in the St. Paul Pioneer Press

Identifying your unique personal qualities is a key factor in maximizing potential.  The challenging part is to find out how you can parlay these characteristics into behaviors that are actually going to yield improved competence, a better job, or general life satisfaction.   I was honored to have the St. Paul Pioneer Press feature me in their “Open for Business” section in the April 11, 2010 paper.   In this article, I  describe how I address both of these factors.  First, there are self-discovery tools that help to identify these qualities.  One that is unique to my business is the newly released Myers-Briggs Step III instrument which is a highly personalized indicator of where your strengths and developmental challenges appear to be right now. I also use other tools including a personal interview to find out what is on your mind.  Once this is known, it is important to develop strategies to make your goals a reality.  That is where the challenge is because it is in that phase that we suffer set backs and self-doubts.  That is where a life coach can be very useful.

Ann C. Holm featured in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press Open for Business April 11, 2010 column (PDF)

Awareness, Acceptance, Action

Cognitive blind spots present a significant roadblock to the full realization of individual human potential.  There are many kinds of blind spots including those that are common to all humans  such as the  Bandwagon Effect , where individuals become attracted to popular trends, or the Restraint Bias where individuals overestimate their capacity to resist temptation.    There are also other types of blind spots that are common to individuals who have suffered neurological damage.   The term reduced deficit awareness refers to an individual’s lack of awareness of a cognitive problem and it’s impact on his functional capabilities.  For example, a patient may be certain he can drive despite deep paralysis and a visual field cut!   Even our normal dominant psychological preferences for sensing versus intuition and thinking versus feeling as defined by our MBTI personality type set the stage for cognitive blind spots and biases.

Interestingly, the process to overcome these challenges is  similar.. First there is an awareness that our personal effectiveness is limited in some way. Next  is an acceptance that  a mindset or an existing way of approaching a problem is the reason we are coming up short of our goals.   Finally,  an action plan is generated to bring about change.

For instance, in neurological rehabilitation, one of the most important indicators for significant recovery after a stroke or brain injury is awareness of deficits. Realistically, how can improvements be made if one is blind to the need for change?  Moreover, there are several levels of awareness that must be achieved in order to change:

7 Levels of  Self- Awareness That Can Lead to Change: [Read more…]

Figuring Out What Works For You

I have a very poor sense of direction.  I have driven down roads that have turned into pastureland.  I have taken routes that I thought were correct  only to find myself miles away from my intended destination.   I have ridden on the wrong subway or hopped on the wrong bus so often that I am usually surprised when I get it right.   I have been lost so many times that I  usually don’t say, “I’m lost”. Instead I say, “This is not the most efficient route, I know, I know…”  One of the roadblocks that I frequently encounter is that I usually don’t know where I am in the first place!  Where is Point A in relation to Point B?    Poor topographical orientation (the cognitive scientist’s way of saying, “You don’t know where the hell you are!”),  is an effective analogy to describe how many of us feel at during our lives. Where am I? Where am I going?  How do I get there?

The answer to the question, “How do I GET there?” in life is as varied as the maps and gadgets that are available to help us reach a physical destination.  Deciding what tool provides the most effective guidance is really dependent on several factors including how familiar we are with the area, our general sense of direction, or whether we want a map or written directions. For that matter, we may have a preference for north-south/east-west directions versus  left-right/”turn at the Target store on the corner” type directions.   I have found the GPS system to be most helpful but believe it or not, I had to learn to actually listen to it before it was of much use to me.  The point is, what we use to navigate our surroundings is a matter of personal choice.  One must seek the most understandable and the most effective option. [Read more…]