Wednesday, September 21, 2005

iNTj? It must be Briggs-Meyer.

It's common knowledge that the MBTI is a given during the A-100. Apparently, it's used [at least initially] to determine group structure, highlighting strengths and weaknesses of different personalities, helping you as an individual to understand your leadership style and to learn how groups can best work together.

There are several online personality tests available, which although may not be as precise (or as rigorous) as a fullblown assessment, it still will be relatively close. I've tried several of these tests, and some are definitely preferable to the others; the downside is that their results vary a little. The "Keirsey Temperament Sorter" has twice pegged me as iStJ (what they term 'Inspector'), whereas the lengthier Humanmetrics "Jung Typology Test" consistently labels me as iNTj (which Keirsey strangely calls the 'Mastermind Rational').

The two explanations for these personality types are extremely interesting, although the former (iStJ) doesn't seem quite to fit:

"ISTJs are often called inspectors. They have a keen sense of right and wrong, especially in their area of interest and/or responsibility. They are noted for devotion to duty. Punctuality is a watchword of the ISTJ. The secretary, clerk, or business(wo)man by whom others set their clocks is likely to be an ISTJ.

As do other Introverted Thinkers, ISTJs often give the initial impression of being aloof and perhaps somewhat cold. Effusive expression of emotional warmth is not something that ISTJs do without considerable energy loss."

This is not me. Punctual? Aloof? Cold? I may have that appearance online but it is not me at all.

The other personality type, however, iNTj, is almost like looking in a mirror:

"To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of "definiteness", of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms..."

And from another source:

"Their strengths include their ability to think systemically and strategically. These are the natural analysts. Their weaknesses include their tendency to make things more complex than necessary and their impatience with incompetency."

I am far more comfortable with these latter assessments. But when I started searching to see if there were any statistics correlating personality types with the SD, there were plenty of surprises.

One document, humorously named "Defense is from Mars, State is from Venus", highlights the personality differences and resulting clashes between DoD and DoS:

"ISTJs prefer goals that are simple and attainable. They invented the "KISS" (Keep it Simple Stupid) principle. Simple means straight forward, no frills, and understandable by everyone…attainable goals are those that you can get your hands on and get to work.

In contrast, most Department of State personnel fall into the INTJ category. That small one letter difference in the profile makes for some large differences in thinking. In the State Department- 47% are NT's, four times as many as in the general population (12%). INTJ's constitute less than 1% of the general population. INTJ's are idea people. Others may see what is [authors' note: the ISTJ perhaps?] and wonder why, INTJ's see what might be and say "Why not?"

INTJ's view the world in terms of endless possibilities, to be manipulated, conceptualized, systematized, and translated through objective decisions. They convey confidence, stability, competence, intellectual insight, and self-assurance. Their propensity is to improve just about anything, even things that are working well; they'll "fix it even if it ain't broke". Team building, goal setting, and time management are all marvelous concepts - for others. Generally they would much rather write about, think about, or even improve upon any of these ideas than engage in the actual processes."

Allegedly, according to this article, the State Department has a disproportionate ratio of iNTj's. Is this personality suited for the rigors, flexibility, and cultural adaptability required of the FS lifestyle? I can't say. But this concluding idea brings back around almost full circle, to the purpose of using this personality assessment for the A-100 FSO Orientation/Training: to develop these critical elements [weakness to strength] within a core group of people so that they can excel professionally.