Chapter 3 – Project Manager as a Leader

3.8. In-depth Look: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

In-depth Look

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), often simply referred to as Myers-Briggs, is one of most widely used tools for exploring personal preference, with more than two million people taking the MBTI each year. It can be used in project management training to develop awareness of preferences for processing information and relationships with other people. Based on the theories of psychologist Carl Jung, the Myers-Briggs uses a questionnaire to gather information on the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment. Perception represents the way people become aware of people and their environment. Judgment represents the evaluation of what is perceived. People perceive things differently and reach different conclusions based on the same environmental input. Understanding and accounting for these differences is critical to successful project leadership.

The Myers-Briggs identifies 16 personality types based on four preferences derived from the questionnaire. The preferences are between pairs of opposite characteristics and include the following:

  • Extroversion (E)-Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S)-Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T)-Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J)-Perceiving (P)

Sixteen Myers-Briggs types can be derived from the four dichotomies. Each of the 16 types describes a preference: for focusing on the inner or outer world (E-I), for approaching and internalizing information (S-I), for making decisions (T-F), and for planning (J-P). For example, an ISTJ is a Myers-Briggs type who prefers to focus on the inner world and basic information, prefers logic, and likes to decide quickly. It is important to note that there is no best type and that effective interpretation of the Myers-Briggs requires training. The purpose of Myers-Briggs is to understand and appreciate the differences among people. This understanding can be helpful in building the project team, developing common goals, and communicating with project stakeholders.

On larger, more complex projects, Human Resources would be involved with the project managers using the Myers-Briggs as a team-building tool during project start-up. This is typically a facilitated work session where team members work with HR to take the Myers-Briggs test and share with the team how they process information, what communication approaches they prefer, and what decision-making preferences they have. This allows the team to identify potential areas of conflict, develop communication strategies, and build an appreciation for the diversity of the team.

Expanding on Myers-Briggs 


Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire. It was first published in the United States in 1943. When Katharine Briggs first met Clarence Myers, who would become Isabel’s husband, she was motivated to begin exploring the theory of personality types. She noticed that her husband had a distinctive viewpoint on the world. This aroused her curiosity to start reviewing and studying literature to comprehend various temperaments (The History, n.d.).


The purpose of the Myers-Briggs test is to identify or describe how individuals interpret and think about their environment. This theory was based on another theory called Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. It is a theory based on the collective unconscious. He believed that people are related to one another and their ancestors because of a shared set of experiences.  According to Carl Jung, on whose theory of personality, the MBTI is based, understanding people’s conduct required comprehending the personality “type” to which they belonged. He further stated that personality is a product of biological variation at random is false. He thought observed personality differences were regular and predictable. Jung categorized personality into intrinsic “types” in this way (Stein & Swan, 2019).

Organizations most frequently employ it to aid people in growing in self-awareness and enhancing teamwork. In a business setting, MBTI assessment can identify help when it comes to the resolution of conflicts, improvement of communication and decision-making, management of change, career mentoring, and leadership development.

 Personality Types

The three main tenets of the MBTI theory are that each individual has a “real” personality, “type,” that “type” causes variations in as seen in behaviour, and that “type” is inborn (together referred to as the “inborn claim”). Each of these three statements has to be verified in order for the MBTI theory to be true (Santamaria, 2019).

It is possible to believe that some personality qualities are superior to or more valuable than others when using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Perhaps one personality type is viewed as superior to another, although this is untrue. No type is inherently good or evil. The MBTI determines a personality type’s preferred lifestyle. There are no talents or skills. Additionally, developing one’s type just means getting better as a person through time, not necessarily changing one’s type.

  • ISTJ
    • o Pay attention to both the present and the future effects of issues and decisions.
    • o Think about the effects of decisions on people.
    • o Try new and diverse options. Change can be beneficial.
    • o Learn to be tolerant of others who think differently than you.
  • ISTP
    • o Try being open with others and expressing your worries and issues.
    • o Become persistent
    • o Try creating a plan and executing it.
    • o Set objectives and a plan for achieving them.
  • ISFJ
    • o Strive to take more chances.
    • o Consider the future with a more optimistic outlook
    • o Become more aggressive and forthright.
    • o Show off your successes and blow your own horn.
    • o Try new approaches to problems,
  • ISFP
    • o View things with greater skepticism
    • o Examine the data
    • o Learn to provide critical feedback
    • o Maintain a forward-looking viewpoint
    • o Show more confidence
  • INFJ
    • o Develop your political savvy
    • o Be more adamant
    • o Learn to provide constructive criticism.
    • o Request criticism and recommendations
    • o Unwind and relish the moment.
  • INFP
    • o Instead of trying to find the perfect solution for every problem, learn to deal with reality.
    • o Say no more often.
    • o Integrate personal beliefs and logic
    • o Create, organize, and carry out action items, tasks, and goals.
  • INTJ
    • o Look for criticism
    • o Include others in your concepts and plans.
    • o Consider reality
    • o Gratitude and appreciation for others
  • INTP
    • o Emphasis on useful specifics
    • o Create an action plan and follow it to achieve your goals.
    • o Seek other people’s assistance.
    • o Meet new people.
    • o Express gratitude
  • ENTP
    • o Focus on the here and now.
    • o Thank others and acknowledge them.
    • o Set tasks, priorities, and goals that are reasonable.
    • o Understand when to stop.
  • ENTJ
    • o Consider the human aspect.
    • o Express gratitude to people.
    • o Pause to consider.
    • o Acquire the ability to recognize and respect your own and others’ sentiments.
  • ENFP
    • o Establish priorities and carry them out.
    • o Focus on the specifics.
    • o Put more effort into your tasks rather than your interests.
    • o Create time management objectives and develop time management techniques.
  • ENFJ
    • o Recognize that people have limitations.
    • o Gain conflict management skills.
    • o Must be keen to details
    • o Put a stop to self-criticism and seek out unbiased opinions.
  • ESFP
    • o Consider the logical effects of your choices.
    • o Depersonalize disputes.
    • o Create goals and a plan.
    • o Maintain a healthy balance between work and social activities.
    • o Concentrate on enhancing time management.
  • ESFJ
    • o Pay attention to differences and find ways to handle the disagreements.
    • o Keep in mind your own demands and preferences.
    • o Pay attention logically.
    • o Take a more logical look at the outcomes and repercussions of your choices.
  • ESTP
    • o Set aside your work and pay greater attention to other people and their emotions.
    • o Think beyond a band-aid solution to a problem.
    • o Finish the present projects.
    • o Maintain a healthy balance between work and recreation.
  • ESTJ
    • o Prior to making a choice, consider all choices, especially the impact on individuals.
    • o Consider the advantages of change.
    • o Express gratitude and appreciation to people.
    • o Give yourself time to consider and list your values.


One of the strengths of the basic MBTI and Jungian Type structure is that it avoids a complex theory in terms of intricacy. The 16 “types” identified by Jung, Myers, and Briggs are dynamic entities with enormous descriptive potential, far from being static stereotypes.  When the typology is taught to clients, they quickly realize how helpful it is to better understand oneself and others. Even people without a psychiatric background can instantly recognize the four dichotomies as being true (Santamaria, 2019).

In order to eliminate negative or “bad” personality characteristics like neuroticism, the MBTI tries to be normatively neutral; all individual variances are characterized as normal. The Jungian framework that supports the MBTI, in contrast to the Big Five theory of personality, claims to explain the respondent’s personality as well as characterize it.

The MBTI is quite straightforward and simplistic. The MBTI only contains 8 categories: Contrasted with the Big Five construct’s 36+ components, facets, and scales are Introversion, Extroversion, Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, Feeling, Judging, and Perceiving (Santamaria, 2019). Various psychologists have stated that clients virtually universally state that they considered the introduction to the instrument to be interesting, helpful, and time well spent. The great majority of customers who learn about themselves and their type find relief and pleasant emotions rather than feeling forced into one of the 16 kinds.

The Myers-Briggs test is much more than a simple personality quiz. The benefits of it include awareness and vocabulary for the interpersonal distinctions that characterize us as a person personality test. An approach that makes it simple to see how people vary and how they are similar. It provides memorable and motivational ideas that clarify complex relationships (Stein & Swan, 2019)

It further provides positive perceptions of all personalities, avoidance of defensiveness, and encouragement to make sincere and long-lasting behavioral adjustments. The MBTI framework was created primarily for the improvement and development of individuals. As a result, the process of evaluation and interpretation offers a chance for personal discovery that is challenging to do with conventional examinations.

MBTI has made a huge contribution to studying the behavioral issues of individuals. It has become a common way in organizations to give detailed information about the best people for each team preferred working style and interactions. Managers may use MBTI data when forming a team to ensure that personality types do not collide, and that weaknesses and strengths should complement one another (Bajic, n.d.).


A drawback to the theory is that it is so deceptively basic that after just two weeks of study, a specific group of people considers themselves to be MBTI experts. They fail to grasp the necessity of having a solid grasp of the theory in order to give the test and analyze the results. Clients and professionals mistakenly and inappropriately attribute traits as a result of David Keirsey’s misinterpretation of Jung and Myers (Bajic, n.d.).

Another drawback is that many people who have significant flaws or psychiatric disorders try to hide these issues by using the MBTI’s positive type descriptors. The MBTI can become an excuse and a sedative rather than inspiring people to pursue personal growth. People make the mistake of thinking that the theory itself is easy because of how straightforward the exam questions are. Instead of treating Jung and Myers’ typology as a dynamic system, as Keirsey and he did, they treat it as a static one (Stein & Swan, 2019).

 The personality type does have limitations. Regardless of the popularity of the Myers-Briggs test, some psychologists say it is unscientific and meaningless. Others consider it to be a reliable instrument that captures several crucial personality traits, although it has drawbacks.

  • Poor Validity

Research on types of personality and managerial behaviors of William Gardner found out that this test is poor at predicting the behavior or personality of an individual. Gardner states that there is a need to refine the construction and measurements of this test because there are issues regarding its theory and operation (Gardner, 1996).

  • Missing Pieces of Personality

Some researchers such as Paul Costa and Robert McCrae state that this test is not complete since the categories only includes Big 5 Personality Traits extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, negative emotionality, and open-mindedness (Ackerman, 2017). In terms of action, feeling, and thinking, there is no exact measurement of emotional stability.

  • Bimodal Grouping – personality traits are not constant

There is a significant fault in two groups that people are placed into after taking the Myers-Briggs test: personality traits are not constant. There are significant issues with the MBTI’s psychometric properties, claims Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. The fact that scores are split into categories—extravert or introvert—affects all typologies which is a problem. Personality traits are continuous, with people having varying degrees of extraversion or introversion (Riggio, 2014). The MBTI’s largest fundamental fault is the assumption that personality traits are constant and do not change in time.

In a recent study, researchers used survey data from a large sample of teenagers who participated in the 1960s and again 50 years after. The questionnaire asked them about their personalities (as related to the Big Five qualities). “We saw some very, very big changes in personality attributes over the past 50 years” according to the study’s author Rodica Damian of the University of Houston, the changes were obvious to others for emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness (Suttie, 2018). This study demonstrates that personality does change and that they have continuous aspects.

Suresh Balasubramanian defended the test. He was a general manager of the Myers-Briggs firm. He said, “When you look at the validity of the instrument, it’s just as valid as any other personality assessment” (Gholipour, 2019). But if the MBTI has so many restrictions, what does it indicate about other personality tests? Perhaps it’s time to develop a new diagnostic method for assessing aptitude.

Finding out a person’s true essence requires understanding their complicated individual identity and conduct, as best made clear by Oxford University professor Merve Emre. She criticizes the test, claiming that “assignment to type might function as a tool for annihilating individuality,” in her book The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing (Arthur, 2018). As can be seen, conventional aptitude tests, such as the MBTI, consider personality traits to be intrinsic and static and exclude accounting for the worldview or cognitive orientation of an individual. It is difficult to see the full person because of this missing component. How will a person grasp the underlying forces that drive them or aid them in advancing their careers if they are placed into a category and only permitted to observe themselves in a few dimensions?

According to some research, she claims a person’s characteristics and actions change over life depending on their surroundings, including cognitive orientation. As a result of this thought, the Myers-Briggs test is inadequate, and there is a greater need than ever for a diagnostic instrument that truly evaluates a person’s potential. Possible outcomes for better personal, academic, and professional advancement are unlocked by offering a comprehensive perspective of an individual’s mental process in connection with their unique qualities, behavior, and perceptions. It is effective to demonstrate not only who someone is but also the why and how behind it.

Project Management

In Project Management, the Project Manager usually is aware that their largest difficulties are often not technical or financial, but rather, interpersonal. The team members will be able to exchange messages with one another more effectively whether they are conscious of their own and the personality types of each other. Additionally, since the management will be aware of how each team member operates best, they will discover it to be less complicated to communicate with them as a manager.

Experienced Project Managers understand they cannot boost morale among all team members in a similar way. A plan that works with one person may fail with another. However, being aware of a person’s personality type may be able to motivate and control them. For example, one team member might need logical, clear arguments for the tasks they are asked to complete. With little to no assistance, they might perform better on their own. A team member with a unique personality may need frequent positive reinforcement and acknowledgment in addition to extensive engagement with other team members (Santamaria, 2019).

 Human Resources

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can assist Human Resources departments in understanding what influences employee turnover, work satisfaction, and occupational behavior. Sensing/Intuition and Thinking/Feeling are the two MBTI functions that have the most influence on occupational behavior since both closely tied to processing preferences for information.

Jobs involving practical analysis and facts, such as those in applied sciences, law, and accounting, would allow a person with a Sensing (emphasis on facts as opposed to potentialities) and Thinking (usage of unbiased analysis as opposed to subjective analysis) type to work to their full capacity. While being reflective and thoughtful, intuitive personality types are drawn to occupations or academic fields that deal with ideas.

Job satisfaction can also be predicted by MBTI (Symanto Communications, 2022). For instance, a Perception type might be contented more if they operate on their own on a variety of projects, whereas a Judgement type may love pursuing independent initiatives the best owing to their preference for tidy and organized labor. It has been shown that extroverts thrive in highly exciting work environments while introverts prefer quieter settings whenever possible to concentrate on their thoughts and inner selves.

Understanding the motives and drivers of your employees will help you managing them better, maintain their focus and productivity, and reduce employee turnover. Additionally, it can aid in sustaining peace and harmony at work and workplace communication.

Class of 2022 Contribution:  Genny Rose Ragpala, Jesly Jacob Jesly Jacob, Prakul Khera, Christine Del Rosario