The Role of Personality Type
Let’s start by looking at what I have focused in the 9 years since that great experience -- our differences. Dick’s type is ENTP, David is INFP and I am an ESTJ. Having learned type in “parts,” we used to talk about our team’s diversity as having 2 E’s and 1 I, 2 N’s and 1 S, 2 T’s and 1 F, and 2 P’s and 1 J.
In 1998, I began enhancing my understanding of type by learning from Dr. Linda Berens. It is Linda’s approach to type that has given me the clearest understanding of the dynamics of this team.
When I looked at the team from a Temperament perspective, it was immediately obvious that this is an area of difference. With a Theorist™, Catalyst™ and Stabilizer™, we represent 3 of the 4 temperaments. And indeed, we did bring those different aspects to the work. Dick’s drive for mastery and competence was clearly demonstrated by the deep knowledge about teams and teamwork that he brought to the group. He also did the initial conceptual design of the product and was able to be sure we had a logical consistency from module to module.
As the writer of the materials, David’s Catalyst™ values came through and made it easy for users to connect to the material. Our product had a unique identity as did our team. David’s role as catalyst was key in making that happen.
And, as the Stabilizer™, my talent at logistics was very useful in keeping track of the status of each of the 26 modules. I also brought structure and standardization to the group and drove us to do activities that really helped us bond.
For those of you who are familiar with Linda’s work, you know that there are four Interaction Styles™ that overlay the temperaments (thus giving us 16 types). Dick, David and I represented three of the four Interaction Styles™. Dick is a “Get Things Going,” David is a “Behind the Scenes,” and I am an “In Charge™.” This too played out in our effectiveness.
When we met face-to-face to work on a module, Dick got us started. If we were working on a module on decision making, for example, Dick would say “What do we know about decision making in teams?” We would go from there. David would take all the discussion and integrate it into something that made sense.
As the “In Charge,” I kept us moving. If we seemed to stall, I would say, “OK, what’s going on page 4?” I also was the one who made sure we had everything complete on a module so we could send it to print and move on to the next module.
All of this diversity of temperament and interaction styles worked extremely well for us and we truly capitalized on it as we took on needed roles.
The Point of Commonality
What came to me very recently is an underlying point of commonality. With all of our differences, we seemed to work so smoothly together. We were particularly effective when we were tossing around ideas and considering what all of our ideas might mean and how they could be used.
When you look at cognitive dynamics, you will see something interesting. Extraverted Intuiting is in each of our codes. For Dick it is his dominant function. And, he was the one who would often get us started on the process of putting ideas out. For David, it is his auxiliary function, and he could access it as easily as Dick. Extraverted Intuiting is my tertiary function. I was 38 when this project started and had pretty easy access to Extraverted Intuiting. Dick and David helped me have a whole new appreciation for the value of Extraverted Intuiting and was it fun when we all engaged in it together! With that in common, then of course the Sensing function was introverted for all of us. So we used a very common approach for gathering data. We could tap into what we “knew” and then move into a mode of inferring. There was little conflict about our approach.
Our judging processes were not all the same, but that just brought a richness to the ultimate product as we used a combination of Extraverted and Introverted Thinking and Introverted Feeling. I believe that our easy and fun approach to data gathering set us up to appreciate differences in the decision making we did together.
So, sometimes we need to look at all three layers of type to see both the differences and the similarities. It can be insightful for us as we work with others to help them understand their experiences.
© Susan K. Gerke. All Rights Reserved. Susan K. Gerke is the president of Gerke Consulting & Development. You can visit her web site at www.susangerke.com.