Personality types and the 360° survey for professional development, Or “Being a Bulldozer and Still Winning Hearts”

by Tegan Darnell
Research Librarian
University of Southern Queensland, Australia

This short article is about how evidence-based practice applies on a personal/individual level, and how I’m using the outcomes of survey tools for reflective professional development.

As part of an ongoing leadership development program, I have completed a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), and the slightly less well known 360° Life Styles Inventory™ (LSI). Both are evidence-based and meet rigorous academic and psychometric standards.

Although reluctant to be categorised, I have committed to ‘develop’ my practice and become a better and more effective leader. I endeavour to take what I have learned from this and use it in my practice.

The MBTI® told me I am an ENTJ type, or ‘the commander’, closely correlated with the ‘Fieldmarshal’ in the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS). An ENTJ can be dictatorial, abrasive, and insensitive. Notable ENTJ types include Margaret Thatcher, Vladimir Putin, Steve Jobs, and Gordon Ramsey (the British chef that swears at people a lot).

It isn’t all bad… Basically, an ENTJ is a natural born leader with a ‘forceful’ personality. Also, Intuition (N) types have been shown to have significantly higher ego development (Vincent, Ward, & Denson 2013) – Apparently that is a good thing.

Last time I took the same test I came out as an INFJ, or ‘the advocate’, (the ‘counsellor’ according to the KTS) so my new result was somewhat of a shock. As a committed researcher-practitioner, however, I have to accept what the data is telling me. Quite a lot of time has passed since I last took the full questionnaire…

However, it was the 360° survey that was the most revealing.

In a 360° degree survey not only do you complete a survey about your behaviours, but so does your boss, your direct reports, and peers and colleagues. The differences between your self-evaluation and the perceptions others have of you are revealing.

I am a human bulldozer.

My colleagues rated me as unhealthily competitive, approval seeking, and lacking in actual performance. Apparently I disregard others’ feelings, and come across and cold and insensitive. Positive areas include: My colleagues see me as an independent and unconventional colleague, and I am nowhere near as avoidant as I thought I was.

Sometimes, the evidence does not say what you want it to say. When the data is about a beloved Library service or resource this is hard to take. When the data is about your personal performance and behaviour, this can be particularly difficult to reconcile. But, as will all research, I have asked the question, I have collected the data, and I have the results. Now, with this information, I need to make a decision about what action I take.

An ENTJ appreciates and welcomes objective and rational statements about what they do well and what could be done better. Criticisms, to me, mean: “Here is your challenge. Do whatever is in your power to make it happen”. So, I have accepted this challenge.

Being a bulldozer was never my intention, but if I am a bulldozer, I’ll be a bulldozer with friends, thank you. I’ll be working on my ‘encouraging’ and ‘humanistic’ behaviours, and doing lots of open communication (ie. ‘listening’) over the next few weeks.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.