Intro: Welcome to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, where we bring together thought leaders, psychologists, and personality experts from around the world to talk about work life, home life, and how to get the best from life.
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Melissa Summer (MS): In this episode, Cameron Nott, a consulting psychologist, and a seasoned leader himself, explores the psychology of great leadership. You'll hear how psychology plays a part in leadership development, learn how to nurture good decision making, and we'll explore the role of psychological assessments in aiding leaders’ growth. Welcome to the show, Cameron.
Cameron Nott (CN): Thank you, Melissa. Really great to be here. Thank you.
MS: Cameron is Managing Director of Asia Pacific for The Myers-Briggs Company and is based in Australia. He has experience working with organizations across the Asia Pacific region and in talent identification, organizational change, team effectiveness, and of course, leadership development.
Cameron is a registered psychologist with a master's in organizational psychology and degrees in global management and corporate finance. He's also a member of the Australian Psychological Society and the Australian Human Resources Institute. I'm excited to just pick your brain on all things leadership. So, let's start out with a super easy question. [laughter] What makes a great leader?
CN: [laughter] Easy question, certainly. I think it's a fairly big question to start with as well. And look, I think if you were to do a search of the literature on the topic of leadership, there's probably about five million different references that that would pop up. It's fair to say that I think there's a number of different views on what it takes to be a great leader.
And while I can't claim to have read all of those articles and books out there on the topic, if I was to synthesize it – and indeed just from my own experience as well – if I just try to synthesize it down into five key areas, I would say that to be a great leader, probably the first quality you need to have is integrity.
And that's about being honest. It's about being authentic with yourself. And I think that's a really important foundation for building trust with those who you lead. And as we know also, trust is really important in terms of building high performing teams.
The second area I would perhaps talk to would be influence. And I think I'd build into this, communication as well. Having effective interpersonal networks, having strong communication skills really helps leaders to gather the resources to support their team. It also helps them remove roadblocks so the team to be more effective in terms of how it operates.
Agility is also important in leadership. Now innovation is a popular word. But look, I think really underlying this, it's about having a mind that's open to learning, that’s open to change. But not only being open to being flexible in terms of how we go about our work and looking at new approaches. I think it's also important to have courage in terms of knowing how to make the right decisions and to drive the right decisions on behalf of the team or the organization.
MS: Agility makes me think of being able to switch directions really quickly.
CN: Yeah, absolutely. And it's about knowing how to switch towards the right direction to make the right bet in terms of which way to direct the team. I think a fourth factor here would be empathy. It's about understanding others. It's about understanding your team. That's really important to be an effective leader. We also know that empathy is a key building block towards being an inclusive leader.
Lastly, and perhaps the superfood of great leadership, is what I like to call active self-awareness. So it's about not only understanding our strengths, understanding our blind spots, but it's also about having the motivation to act upon them. It's about having that drive to be better. It's about looking to continue to find ways to improve ourselves as a leader. There are the five areas. I think it's influence is integrity, agility, empathy and self-awareness, but perhaps active self-awareness.
MS: That kind of goes into my next question. So self-awareness- you said superfood. Makes me think self-awareness is the kale smoothie of the leadership world. But it’s probably something you can't just go in and – I mean, I know people some people love their kale, I like it just blended so you can't see it at all – probably not something you could get in the store though. So why active self-awareness, and how do you get there? How do you become self-aware?
CN: Yeah. First, let me put my kale and blueberry smoothie to one side. [shows smoothie]
MS: [laughter] Oh that is a great color by the way. That smoothie is pondwater. Blueberry and kale. You got to use pineapple. With pineapple juice and kale, you get a really nice color.
CN: [laughter] All right well maybe after the pod, we'll go mix one of those up. But in terms of the question about self-awareness: how do we build it? How do we develop it? I think as a start, I'd say that the reason that self-awareness is important- I mean, research shows that it links to well-being and that on its own is really important. So self-awareness does help to improve our levels of well-being. But also there's strong links between well-being and performance when it comes to self-awareness. There's some research in this area as well that shows that ninety-five percent of people believe that they're self-aware. The really interesting stat here is that only fifteen percent actually are.
Let’s round it up. I think about one hundred percent of us think that we're pretty self-aware. But the research is suggesting fifteen percent actually are. And I think that's probably a fairly strict standard. But I think what it teaches us is that as much as we know about ourselves, there's always going to be something more that we can learn.
And again, given its links between well-being and performance, I think we can all benefit from developing our self-awareness. In terms of developing self-awareness, this is actually a question that we looked at The Myers-Briggs Company. We conducted some research a few years back and we were asking people about the different methods that they use to improve their self-awareness and also how useful those methods were.
It turns out that many people have tried many different things. You know, many people are asking for feedback from others. So it could be from a peer, an employee, a manager, someone who they might trust, who's been able to see them, demonstrate their leadership capabilities in the workplace. It could also be from a family member as well.
I've seen other people reference journaling as being an effective way to help improve self-awareness. But I think there's another category which people have rated as highly effective in terms of building self-awareness, and that's where we start to look at the use of psychometric assessments like a personality tool or behavioral assessment, perhaps 360-degree feedback.
Some of the benefits for using assessments in the context of becoming more self-aware is that they're objective. They can give us some really interesting data points to help us learn more about who we are. They can give us a language; they can give us a model for understanding ourselves better and also for understanding others as well. I think that having that model – having that language – it helps put some words, will give us a framework to understand how we might be behaving, how we might be thinking, how we might be interacting.
It's going to help us learn more about some of the people we're working with and interacting with. And through that, we can start to make some better decisions. And I guess another key benefit of assessments is that they can very quickly give us some fairly pointed insights for development.
But I think what I would add here that is while assessments are really important in terms of building self-awareness, what's really important is using the right kind of assessments. We want to use assessments that are extensively researched.
There are plenty of free quizzes out there, but they're free for a reason. And I think leaders who are serious about their development, they want accurate information – information that they can trust. So before they go on and make an important life decision or decision around development or around their career, they want to know that they they're using some robust information to help inform that decision that they do make.
It's a little bit like if you were to look at making a decision around your health and your well-being. You want to rely on information that's accurate. You want to rely on information that you can trust. And the same way that you might want to go – you might need to go and it would be encouraged to go – and see a qualified health professional with regards to your health.
I guess this brings me to the other point about using assessments. Leaders are really encouraged to work with practitioners who are qualified to use these assessments because they can really help guide them through the true meaning of their results. They can provide an important, objective perspective. And they can also help support them with their development.
MS: Would it be odd if someone as a leader – say they're getting coached and there's a consultancy that's coming in – can leaders ask about the assessments that are being used? Can they ask for that validity information or that scientific background? They probably know somewhat as far as what maybe validity and reliability is, but can they go to just the consultancy and say, “Hey, show me the numbers. Show me that this is extensively researched”?
CN: Yeah, a hundred percent. I would love it if more did. And hopefully this podcast helps us to encourage leaders to go out there and ask a few more questions about the assessments that they might be going through that they might be using just to make sure that they are reliable, that they are valid, that they have been shown to be meaningful and relevant for the purpose in which they're being useful. And yes, if they're working with qualified practitioners, those practitioners would easily have access to the information to go to demonstrate that.
MS: Is it the Jerry Maguire movie where it's “Show me the money”? They should just be like, Show me the manual!” [laughter]
CN: [laughter] You did a spot-on impersonation of Tom Cruise right there.
MS: Okay, so this is what all the leaders have to do. This is your homework from this episode. The next time you have-
CN: Show me the manual.
MS: Show me the manual. So we've talked a little bit about self-awareness, but how do assessments help leaders improve their leadership?
CN: Assessments are really the starting point in terms of providing us with that self-awareness. You know, it gives us that that objective data, it gives us some really important points to follow on.
But growing and developing as a leader is not just about taking an assessment. It's really about looking to find ways to stretch ourselves, looking to find ways to challenge ourselves. So this is where we tend to recommend a multi method approach. So multiple methods in terms of the assessments that we use, but also multiple methods in terms of our approaches to development.
So if we were, say, wanting to develop our influencing and communication skills, we can't just do that by reading a book on influencing communication or perhaps just listening to a podcast. Sorry. These are very helpful starting points.
MS: Helpful supplemental tools.
CN: Absolutely. And they're part of this kind of multi-method approach We want to read. We want to listen. We want to get some new ideas. But it is a case of on top of that, we need to go out and start to put some of these things into practice. Again, if we're still looking at that idea of developing our influence and communication skills, going out there and starting to communicate in front of new audiences, communicate in different ways, looking at different ways to influence.
So putting this into practice, it may be a case of getting some support from a mentor and seeing how someone who is already demonstrating this particular skill at a high level. Larning from them, getting some tips from them. Maybe it's about working with a coach or getting some feedback from a another trusted colleague. So it is about taking the insights that an assessment can offer, but then it is about putting it into practice and looking at those different feedback mechanisms to help support development.
MS: Any assessments in particular that you regard as working well for leadership development?
CN: Yeah, sure, absolutely. In the work that we do, we tend to use multiple assessments when working with leaders because there is no one assessment that kind of covers everything. Different assessment can provide different layers of psychological insight.
And often in the work that we do, the MBTI is a really great place to start. It helps for leaders to learn more about their natural personality preferences and how they tend to play out in terms of how they like to communicate, how they prefer to make decisions, and ultimately their natural leadership style. Because our personality preferences can inform our natural orientation towards leadership.
We can all learn to flex, but we all do have a natural approach to leadership based upon our personality preferences. Then on top of the MBTI, we might start to look at other assessments that might look at interpersonal style. So the FIRO or the TKI can be helpful here. And then depending upon the nature of the engagement, it might be important to look at areas of emotional intelligence, or perhaps use a 360-degree feedback tool to get some very direct feedback, very direct insights in terms of some of our leadership competencies.
But I guess the one point I'd mention about 360s in particular is not to jump in too deep too quickly. Self-awareness is ultimately a muscle to be developed and I guess sticking with that kind of health analogy, we don't want to load too many weights on the bar and try to lift it. We need to look at it, grow and develop our understanding of ourselves.
The more that we do that, that perhaps the more open we can be to receiving some more challenging feedback from some more challenging assessments. And again, back on the MBTI, we find that working with leaders – even of executive teams of some of the largest multinational organizations – is that they all learn a lot about themselves, and in particular a lot about each other through going through an assessment or process that might incorporate the MBTI.
MS: I like the idea of using different assessments. I've heard it in coaching used before, like different lenses. And maybe I'm biased because I do photography. And so the idea to me of okay, one of these is a macro lens and one of them where you can just see all the nitty gritty details. One of these is a wide-angle lens and you can see these sorts of things with it. But one lens won't show you everything.
I mean, maybe a wide angle will show you lots of things, but so humans are complex and thinking of these assessments as different lenses that you can see different things with and kind of layer on top of each other. Yeah, I like that analogy.
CN: Yeah. Great. That's exactly how we experience it with the assessments we use.
MS: So on top of that, how do you find the MBTI in particular – because we know that's one of the most popular personality assessments around, has good scientific validity, good reliability, I know it meets the standards for the American Psychological Association, I assume it probably does for the Australian Psychological Society, too – but how do you find that when working with executive teams and do you have any examples of it working with executive teams?
CN: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Tons of examples. I guess in terms of using the MBTI in the work that we do around leadership development, I'd start by saying that leading a team or leading an organization, it's not easy or the best of times. We currently find ourselves in a period of this great volatility, this great uncertainty, and it makes leadership a whole lot harder as well.
So the advantage of the MBTI is that it's a really positive model, but it's very insightful. And as I've kind of touched on it, it does start to provide us with insights in terms of our natural ways of leading. It provides a common language for people within a leadership team to learn more about themselves, to learn more about each other, and also can give them a model.
And this is where we've done some really interesting work is when we rolled out the MBTI much more widely. Across an organization, it can be really interesting to start to look at the overall organizational profile through that lens and we can get some really interesting insights from a cultural perspective.
MS: Ooh tell me more about the cultural part. MBTI and culture.
CN: Sure. Look, I think it's-
MS: -and we're talking organizational culture, not country geographic culture.
CN: That's right. So it's just talking about the ways that people work, the behaviors that people are demonstrating in the workplace. And if I think of a team, if I think of an organization, they're not just a gathering of people, they're really a gathering of personalities.
And if I was to share an example of some work that I conducted with one of our colleagues, Dr. Martin Boult, another one of your podcast guests.
MS: Yeah, he was on last season. He did the Connecting with the People You Lead episode. It's really good.
CN: It’s a great one. I certainly encourage the listeners to queue that one up next if they haven’t heard that one already. But yeah, I was working with Martin on this project and it was about an eighteen-month project. We were invited by the board- the independent board of a fairly commercially oriented government agency. And we were asked to work with the executive team. And the reason for this is because they were conducting climate surveys every two years and the latest climate survey had revealed a real spike in disengagement.
And when they kind of peeled back some of the insights and looked more closely at some of the feedback, the employees were saying that they were unclear about the vision of the organization. There were complaints about lack of opportunities for development, complaints about some kind of bullying leadership styles. So there was definitely a lot of concern across the organization. We were asked to come in and deliver a program at all levels of the organization. We started off working with the executives.
MS: So they were doing the climate survey before you got there? nd then they said, “These are really not great results we've been getting from this climate survey.” And then they contacted you and said, “Hey we need help because we can't figure this out ourselves”?
CN: Exactly. The climate survey was sort of a diagnostic in terms of what was happening in the organization at that point in time. And then it was a case of us coming in with an intervention to help improve what was happening. So the approach there was we implemented an assessment and development program at all levels of the organization.
It involved taking all employees, the executives through to the shop floor so to speak, and to take them through the MBTI. We also took the leaders through some additional layers of the insight, through the FIRO assessment, which looked at interpersonal style and a 360-degree feedback assessment tool. And I assume that those people who are listening right at the moment were listening to a Myers-Briggs Company Podcast probably have a level of understanding about the MBTI personality preferences.
But if not, I'd encourage you to visit our website at The Myers Briggs dot com. But I will use some of the Myers-Briggs language right now as I kind of work through this particular example. So the CEO reported as having top preferences for INTP – so Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Perceiving. He happened to be a very strategic leader, had a brilliant mind, and he was supported by an executive team that collectively had preferences for ESTJ for Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging.
MS: So the only thing they had in common was the Thinking preference.
CN: Thinking. Yeah, that's right. And if we went to the next level down, the middle management as a cohort, they collectively had preferences for ENTJ or Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging. And when we looked at the staff level, their collective preferences were for ENFP, so Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perceiving.
I’ll highlight- I’m talking about the collective preferences. So of course all preferences are represented and a majority of types are represented. And this was an organization of around about 200 people. There was a great level of diversity across the organization. But it can be really interesting as we start to look at some of these collective preferences. Operationally the way that this played out was that the very strategic CEO – he was great in terms of setting the direction for the organization. He was really great in terms of working in the halls of government to kind of get support for his organization or the department that he was leading. And he was supported by an executive team and a middle management team that was ultimately very strong on execution. And this is shown through those last two letters: The TJ preferences.
The problem was, however, that the employees had their preferences were more for the majority of NFP. So it was quite a difference. And what that can mean is just in terms of how these FP employees overall. How they tended to experience this kind of TJ leadership behavior is that it could be – certainly in times of stress and pressure – it might be perceived as a bullying behavior.
And interestingly, that was one of the pieces that came through the climate survey.
MS: I've heard that the last two letters to an MBTI type, when you're talking about comparing two types, that those last two letters are considered the quote unquote – I'm using air quotes, but you can’t see it – conflict pairs because of all the preference pairs that those last two letters in the type, if you're looking at two different types, are the most likely to cause conflict. And those are Thinking and Feeling, which are making decisions. And then Judging and Perceiving, so world/time organization.
CN: Yeah for sure. And I would say that across all of the preferences, we can experience tension and friction where there's difference. But those last two – the TJ and FP – they can also relate to our leadership style or our followership style. If I'm an FP employee, then I'm probably looking for some FP behaviors from my leader and not necessarily the opposite of that.
It was really interesting to take everyone through the MBTI. We found that if you're looking at the MBTI profile of the organization, it really did provide some really great psychological insight in terms of the climate survey results. It helped us understand perhaps how this perceived bullying behavior had come about.
It also gave us some insights in terms of just what were some of the needs that the NF employees were wanting in terms of anting opportunities for development, wanting to have that sense of connection with their leaders, with the vision. And if employees tend to be very motivated by values, that they want to be inspired for individual and team and perhaps organizational growth.
MS: Speaking my language. [I’m an] NF employee. Yes. Values. Inspiration for growth. Yes.
CN: It's perhaps not the natural focus of an ESTJ executive team. It's not to say that they can't deliver on that. It's just not their natural focus. ESTJ teams tend to have a really strong focus on efficiency, on execution.
And in this case, we had an executive team that was also being led by a very strategic leader who was very clear in his vision. But he was Introverted. And what that meant was that in terms of his behaviors, he wasn't a very visible leader. It wasn't something that he needed. He didn't need to walk the floor to connect with people because that's not where he draws his energy from in terms of working across a more Extraverted organization. That was something that they wanted to see. They wanted to have that more direct connection. And even the Introverted employees too, would want to have that direct connection with their leader.
MS: Do you mind sharing your MBTI type?
CN: Happy to. My preferences are for Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging. So ENTJ. Your preferences?
MS: My preferences are INFJ. So Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging. I was going to ask you- I think I remember from some of the research that ESTJ preferences tend to be more in the C-suite and the executive level compared to some of the other types, right?
CN: Absolutely. I think when you say compared to the other types, that's important. When we look at a sample of leaders, all types are represented in leadership roles, in executive roles. But we do tend to find that there are more Ts – so ESTJs, ISTJs, INTJs, and ENTJs.
So the TJs in particular, they tend to gravitate a little bit more towards the executive roles. Once again, all types are represented in leadership roles. And just a comment I'd make about that is that it’s not to say that TJs make great leaders, it's just to say that TJs- I think for all of us, when given the freedom to choose, we tend to pursue a career that is aligned with who we are, the things that we like, our personality preferences.
So yeah, there are probably young TJ employees out there who think, “Okay, I really like to make logical and objective decisions and to kind of organize and plan things,” which is sort of those TJ characteristics. So, [they ask] “Where do I get to do that? Maybe I can move into a coordinator role and then to move into a management role and then perhaps into a senior executive role.”
MS: That makes sense.
CN: Yeah, it's just more a case of people tend to pursue careers – when given the freedom to choose – that align with their personality preferences.
MS: Yeah. And I know that, at least in the United States, there are Introverted and Extraverted leaders. But culturally it feels like, at least to me and from what I've heard, that Extraversion is a little more socially favorable when it comes to leadership because it's someone who is maybe a little more outgoing, maybe a little more social- can just keep talking and, maybe is great with small talk.
Because I know some people who prefer Introversion, that sort of stuff may tire them out. But if you're in a management or leadership role, you have to be out there talking to people and interacting with people.
CN: Yeah, absolutely. And it's something we kind of mentioned at the top: influencing, communication skills. These things are important in leadership and to some Extraverts, it certainly can come more naturally. To some Introverts too as well, but it's just something we all need to be conscious of developing and becoming effective at if we want to be a good leader.
MS: Back to the self-awareness superfood. [laughter]
CN: [laughter] Okay.
MS: So in this example, going back to the TJ preference CEO, the levels of management, and then the more NFP-leaning preference employees: what did they do with this information?
CN: It was something that the executive team found really really helpful. And what they focused in on was just those differences between those middle two preferences in particular – the ST at that executive level and the NF across the wider employees. This is something that I introduced to the, or Martin and I introduced to them, which we often do with leaders or leadership teams, is helping them to learn more about their decision-making preferences.
It's something we refer to as the Z decision-making model or perhaps for my country folk in Australia, that the Zed decision making model. It’s a model that is quite well known to those MBTI practitioners out there. It comes from the MBTI type personality framework, if we can remind ourselves about that framework. If we look at the first preference pair – Extraversion and Introversion – that really relates to where we draw our energy from. The last preference pair – Judging and Perceiving – really looks at our approach to the outer world.
The first and the fourth preferences are a little more attitudinal. It's the middle two preferences in a person's type that really drive decision making. These are considered the cognitive functions. So Sensing or Intuition – S an N – these are really about perceiving. It's about how are we taking information. It’s about the information that we trust. Then we have Thinking and Feeling, which really is the starting point for which we make decisions.
As leaders, as leadership teams, we tend to have a natural bias towards our own preferences. And when it comes to making decisions, it's those middle two leaders that tend to represent our focus, perhaps a strength that we have in decision making. But can also be a bit of a bias or a blind spot for us too when we're looking to make decisions.
So the Z model is a prompt for us to be mindful of using all of those cognitive functions, even if they're not represented in our type. It's probably a little hard to draw a diagram on a podcast, but if listeners can imagine-
MS: Looking forward to seeing you try.
MS: Illustrate in our minds. I'll close my eyes. Talk us through.
CN: So in terms of that Z model, picture the shape of a Z or Zed. We're going to start with Sensing and then we're going to move across to Intuition and then down to Thinking and then finally across to Feeling. Following this through, when we look to make decisions, we're encouraged to start with the perceiving functions of Sensing and Intuition first.
Regardless of our own preferences, if I'm a Sensing type, I also need to think about some of the Intuitive aspects. If I'm an Intuitive, I should also be thinking about some of the Sensing. To make this a little more concrete, we want to start off by asking some of those Sensing questions first when making a decision, again, regardless of our type. We want to know the facts. We want to know the costs. We want to know what's happened before, relevant historical examples.
Once we’ve gone through and we understand the real concrete information about the current situation which we're looking at, we can then start to look at some of those more Intuitive questions about other future possibilities to start to open up the possibility of considering new and different ideas, new and different approaches. Once we've been through that Perceiving process of kind of considering different possibilities, different sources of information, we can then move into the Judging functions – or the more decision-making functions – of Thinking and Feeling.
Thinking comes next, where we want to ask those logical and objective questions. We want to weigh out the information, weigh out the different possibilities that we're considering. And this is then followed by Feeling questions – looking at the decision that we're looking to make and to think a bit about it in terms of the impact on people. Are we supporting people? Have we equipped people with the skills in relation to this decision, perhaps also to think through how this decision might align with our personal or organizational values?
The Z model can be really helpful to for people or for a team to look at their own natural preferences and then to say what is their natural strength, but to make sure they're spending time on those preferences that perhaps aren't as represented within their own type or within their teams type.
Thinking a little bit more about the case study, what the CEO recognized- so he having his preferences for INT and the executive team having their collective preferences for ESTJ as well. The Sensing and Intuition and Thinking cognitive functions were very well represented. Feeling wasn't. In fact, there wasn't anyone on that executive team who actually had Feeling as one of their preferences.
MS: There wasn't anyone at all?
CN: No. It was a leadership team of around about nine people and not one of them had preferences for Feeling.
MS: Oh wow. Interesting.
CN: To add to that, there wasn't anyone on the team that had that functional responsibility for people. So HR was actually a shared service that they would tap into if they needed it. But there wasn't anyone there who was sort of waving the flag on behalf of HR and the people and the talent and the culture needs.
MS: So they were outsourcing HR.
CN: Yeah, that's right. There was this shared central service that they tapped into when they needed it, but it wasn't part of the regular day-to-day decision making within that organization. So an action that they took was that they wanted to become much more conscious of Feeling when they look to make decisions.
They wanted to be more conscious of how they approached people, the impact of decisions on people, especially as they had to look at- I mean that's just important for them as a team to make more well-rounded, more balanced decisions. But in particular for the organization that they were leading, given that they had a high number of Feeling employees, it was even more important that that was something that they gave consideration to.
MS: That's interesting.
CN: What did you find interesting there?
MS: I was I was just thinking, again, I have preferences for INFJ. And now I'm realizing that I think I'm the only one on my immediate team with preferences for Feeling. And now I'm thinking about how the rest of the team – like how when we're making decisions – what they probably are thinking as far as the decisions versus what I am thinking.
And that it’s probably a good idea for me to tap into that more often. Just thinking of the Z model and thinking like, okay, I generally have these ones covered, but that could definitely be a blind spot in my own decision making given that if the rest of the team- And I also know that . . . on the TKI model – the conflict [assessment] – I know that none of us are competing. But yeah, that's interesting to think about, just trying to flex to that other side.
CN: Yeah, and this is where the model can be really helpful. And there was another executive team that I was working with that had a similar challenge, similar kind of profile. And without talking through everything that happened with that particular organization, one of the actions that they did take was that they wanted to say that Z model – the SNTF kind of model there – and they wanted to add that, or they did add that, to the agenda of their documents.
So that when they were making decisions, when they were working together as an executive team, they'd always have this reminder to make sure that they would go through and evaluate important decisions by considering all aspects of those cognitive functions.
MS: I’m going to put that at the top of my team agendas now too. I like that. That's really interesting. And the employees were happier? It helped? Because you said this was an 18-month engagement that you had with them.
CN: That's right. So ultimately it worked out really well. The climate survey kind of came around again. It was something that they tend to run through every two years. And yes, everything was starting to move in a more positive direction. The feedback that we received from taking employees through a number of different developing opportunities where they looked at their communication style, looked at their decision making, it was well received across the organization and the climate surveys as well.
MS: That’s awesome. So you do a lot of work with leaders and you also yourself are one of the leaders of The Myers-Briggs Company in Asia Pacific region. And you've mentioned already that you have preferences for ENTJ. How have assessments helped you personally?
CN: Looking back over my career, not just at The Myers-Briggs Company, but I've been very fortunate to have the chance to go through a number of different development programs, leadership development programs. I've been able to complete personality assessments, assessments to look at interpersonal style, emotional intelligence, 360-degree feedback.
And they're all really positive experiences that help me to improve my levels of self-awareness. But I have to say it really is the MBTIpersonality framework that has really stuck with me the most in terms of my day-to-day activities as a leader. It's great to kind of layer in all these other insights. They're all really powerful and important to help us really pinpoint where we might want to develop as a leader.
But in terms of my day-to-day, I find the MBTI model is really helpful. And in particular for decision making, as we've we started to talk a bit about. By thinking of the model, you know, my preferences are for ENTJ, I try to be very conscious of the opposite of my preferences, which are the Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving – ISFP.
It's something I try to be very conscious of when looking to make decisions. So I'm aware that I have the Intuition and Thinking – the sort of NT characteristics that can be a strength in terms of being quite strategic, looking at the big picture. But it can also be a bit of a bias as well.
I'm really fortunate that the team I work with is certainly very self-aware. The leadership team I work with is very self-aware and we've all shared our MBTI preferences and I'm working with employees who have preferences for Sensing and Feeling, Intuition and Feeling, Sensing and Thinking. I try to be very conscious of trying to tap in with different people across my team who are a subject matter expert in terms of some of those preferences and have a different perspective in terms of how they might be viewing a particular decision that needs to be made.
What I try to do as a leader is to take in all those different views and then combine that together and then make the best, most informed decision I can.
MS: I feel like that's a great leadership tip in itself that I had never thought of, which is taking your own MBTI type and then thinking, okay, what is the opposite of my MBTI type? And then looking at what are the sorts of information or the blind spots just based on. I guess for me- if I have preferences for INFJ, the opposite would be ESTP. Someone who has preferences for ESTP might be able to help me fill in some of the blind spots that I would just naturally have if I wasn't trying to flex.
CN: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a really great tip. And if we wanted to leave people with a tip in terms of what they might take away from this podcast and something that they might want to do better as a leader is they may know their own and personality type, they may not know the personality type of their team or others that they're working with. But at least by understanding your own type, you then know, not only your strengths but your blind spots.
And then you can be much more conscious of where you might need to flex. So again, for my preferences, ENTJ, I know that I need to be much more conscious of using my Introversion, using my Sensing and spending time in that Feeling space, having that flexibility of that more Perceiving approach as well.
I may not always know the preferences of the people I'm working with, but if least I know my own, I then know some of my biases and where I can be more conscious of flexing. I think it's something we've talked a bit about here is to be an effective leader, we need to be able to meet the psychological needs of our followers.
MS: Oh, say that one again.
CN: So to be an effective leader, we need to meet the psychological needs of our followers. That's so good. To lead people, you need to be able to connect with them in a way that they can hear you. You need to be able to share information with them in a way that they will understand it.
Again, you may not always – it's great if you can know your team's type, if you can know the different people you work with and what their personality type is. But even if you don't, you at least can start to know where you might need to flex so you can be more well-rounded in terms of how you can behave and look to lead.
MS: It sounds like it's connecting too a lot with- I mean, we talked about the self-awareness part of it and then awareness of the other side of the preferences you don't have. But sounds like it connects a lot to empathy too.
CN: Yeah, totally. It all layers in there for sure. Empathy being one of those really important characteristics of being a great leader.
MS: Yeah, an authentic leader. And leading with integrity too. As we're wrapping up, I know you've shared some great information, especially around the Z model, around thinking about different types and your opposite, talking about decision making. And I love the story you shared. I've obviously thought about team type, but I've never thought about like organizational levels of type. That's why you do what you do.
As we're wrapping up here, just one question. What are some tips that you have for people who are looking to become better leaders themselves? If they don't necessarily have a leadership coach yet, they haven't hired anyone else. What are some things that people can do on their own to become better leaders?
CN: Yeah, let's have that self-awareness smoothie. So let's start to look at trying to obtain feedback from people who we trust, people who see us in the different realms of life in which we operate and where we might want to receive some feedback. Trusted peers, managers, direct reports, family members as well. Ask for feedback. It's not just about having that that self-awareness. It's about having that active self-awareness.
Get that feedback. Constantly want to improve and be better and look to use those insights in that regard. So feedback would be one aspect. The other one, which we've spent a bit time talking about today, is to perhaps take multiple assessments. Once again, there's no one assessment that will provide all insights in terms of who we are and who we are as a leader.
Multiple assessments can give us multiple layers of insight. I just stress that- make sure- “show me the manual,” as you said before. We want to make sure we're using some well-researched and reputable assessments, perhaps delivered by qualified practitioners.
MS: Perfect. This has been, oh my gosh, I'm so excited for people to hear this. This has been really fantastic. Thank you so much, Cameron, for your time. And if people want to learn more from you or find out more about the kind of services that The Myers-Briggs Company in the Asia Pacific region offers, where can they find you? Where can they follow you?
CN: Hit me up on LinkedIn. It'd be great to connect with you through my feed. I'll try to share some of the latest insights, some of the research from The Myers-Briggs Company. You could also visit our global site at The Myers Briggs dot com. If you wanted to come to the Asia Pacific site more specifically, you could click on or search for AP dot The Myers Briggs dot com. On that site, we have a few other free resources. You can also find my contact details on there as well.
MS: And I know the AP dot The Myers Briggs dot com has some fantastic webinars. So if you liked what you heard from Cameron today – or previously, if you go back and listen to Martin's podcast – if you to hear more, their webinars just blow everyone else's out of the water. They're so good. Shameless plug for your webinars. [laughter]
CN: [laughter] All right. Thanks so much Melissa. Appreciate that. And it's been really great to catch up with you today.
MS: Yeah, thank you so much for being on the show and I look forward to hearing more from you soon.
CN: Great, thank you. It's my pleasure.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast. If you like what you heard today, please share it with others, post on social media, or leave a rating or review. Thanks again and we'll see you next time.
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