Using MBTI to Great Advantage – Work Life

by Ron Potter

Using MBTI to Great Advantage is a blog series in which I’ll do an overview of each of the four Myers-Briggs (MBTI) functions and then in subsequent blogs will dig into each one in more depth with some practical applications for creating better dynamics and better decisions making. Click here to read the Series Introduction.


Work Life Overview: Judging vs PerceivingMBTI series header

Myers-Briggs (MBTI) calls this your “living” function but I never quite knew how to relate to that word so I’ve modified this slightly to “Work Life”. How do you like your work life structured around you? Our Judging types like their life organized and structured. Plan their work and work their plan. Our Perceiving types like things a little more open ended. Be ready for changes and surprises. React to the moment. Figure it out as you go.

Our business schools and businesses have taught us the need for organization and structure so I tend to see an overabundance of Judging types in the business world, until I ask people how they like their vacations structured. The most organized business person in the world might say to me “Totally unstructured! All I want to do is get away from the rat race for a while and be completely in the moment and do whatever I decide to do at the time. Or maybe simply decide to do nothing!” I find that many people are well trained and disciplined at work but as soon as they can get away from it will revert to their more natural Perceiving type on their own time. We’ll talk about the need for Balance, Balance, Balance in future blogs as well as some deeper and often hidden implications of this function playing out in the work place.

Four Functions and Three Rules. So there you have a quick overview of the four functions of Energizing, Perceiving, Deciding and Work Life and I hope you’ve already gotten the message that the best way to manage these functions is through Balance, Balance, Balance. Teams that accomplish this balance in a trusting, respectful manner are always the best teams. They make better decisions more quickly that are more universally accepted than teams that never figure out how to use their diversity. This is one of the best technique and mental model that you can ever implement for overall better teamwork!

Sixteen Types. It’s also important to understand that it’s not just the individual function dichotomies that make a difference, it’s the combination as well. An Introverted preference may function very differently when it’s part of an ISTJ preference set than when it’s part of an INFP preference set. All of this to say, don’t become the arm chair psychologists and assume you can figure out someone’s type and therefor figure them out. You can’t. Your best bet at success is to master the process that brings out the best of all of the fourteen type preferences.

The Four Functions:
1. Energizing
2. Perceiving
3. Deciding
4. Work Life

The Three Rules:
1. Balance
2. Balance
3. Balance

Over the next several blogs we’ll take a more in-depth look at each of the functions and learn some great techniques to create balance, balance, balance.

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