10 to 15 years ago, that would have been an awkward question to ask somebody on a date, not now though, not on your nelly. Now, it’s something at the top of many Tinder / match dot com and other dating or social media profiles.... Who knew that was coming hey? More to the point, who understands it?
🙋♂️ I do
Back in 1995 I looked around the conference room - it was somewhere in Oxford I think, and was the first 'Roman' workshop run by Steve Robinson, the new MD of John Menzies (Retail) PLC. I was a fresh faced graduate, embarking on my career post university. I was too innocent to see this was a corporate turn around situation, to build shareholder value, and sell on the business - either in bits or as a whole, it wouldn't have mattered, and in the end didn't matter. JMR was swallowed by WHSmith, and Steve got rich.
The whole retail operation was sold to WHSmith High Street, and some to WHSmith Europe Travel Retail, in May 1998, for £68m
Having survived my graduate training in Beeston, Nottingham with my good friend Sean, I was sent out to plough my own furrow, as Store Manager in Aldridge firstly, and then Droitwich. I hold many things dear to me about my time with Sean, not least of all the discovery of how great a jam donut is after 10 seconds in a microwave. Anyway, back to the workshop - 1995, I was Store Manager in Droitwich. I was enjoying my salary making double figures - £11k pa. The opening question of the workshop was 'what type of person are you?' the second question; 'what does the future look like?' Nothing about Romans, until much later, when the whole 'all roads lead to Rome' thing came out - and some clever dick gave the answer 'Orange' to question 2. That tells you how long ago it was.
This workshop would be my first introduction to MBTI. Over the course of 48 hours, I was introduced to many more personality tests, but it was Myers-Briggs that stuck in my memory. While there are hundreds of quizzes, tests, and questionnaires cluttering up social media feeds and google results pages, none are as accurate or beneficial as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test - a self-assessment developed in the 1950s. It places people into one of sixteen categories based on four psychological preferences. These are:
Introversion vs. Extraversion, for social preferences.
Sensing vs. Intuition, for how we obtain information.
Thinking vs. Feeling, for decision-making.
Judging vs. Perceiving, for processing complex information
More than any other psychological assessment, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has broken into culture conversations. Social media outlets such as Pinterest and Reddit are saturated with MBTI content. I think that the indicator’s knack for pinpointing personality traits, both good and not so good, is irresistible. It feels like astrology, but real life. Then when you start reading what 'type' celebrities / film or TV characters and politicians fit into.. it becomes not just real, but a fun comparison game as well. It feels like a dark art or a magic trick when your answer is revealed, because of its accuracy.
For example, my latest MBTI type rates me as a dead ringer for the personality of Darth Vader or Hilary Clinton - frightening thought really - but still, I would rather Darth Vader the notoriously evil villain and leader of the dark side, driven and determined, than Jar-Jar Binks, experienced and yet clueless buffoon. Do you know what I mean ?
Hilary Clinton / Darth Vader and ME
Peas in the same pod?
Making up roughly 9% of the population, ESTJ is tagged as hardworking who are beyond thrilled to take charge in organising projects or people. They love to take the systematic and methodical route to get things done and those are the features that make them orderly, conscientious and rule-abiding. Being the consummate organisers that they are, ESTJs love to bring structure and prefer things to work out in a logical order. ESTJs are also the first to take over the initiative to accomplish efficient productivity by establishing the guidelines and processes. It is their sheer confident personality, coupled with tough-mindedness which makes the ESTJs appear to look like they’re always in control. Keeping these qualities in mind, ESTJs belong to the part of the population whose career is mostly involved in institutions like clubs and associations where they are seen taking up a leadership role. Direct and honest, ESTJs are no-nonsense advocates who are strong-willed and reliable. But the ESTJs can seem to look stubborn and judgmental and since they have a hard time expressing emotions ESTJs are often made to take the back bench in personal relationships.
And so this is me.
It hasn't always been that way, I tend to flit between EN an ES - but right now, thats where I am. I am practical, traditional, and organised. I am not particularly interested in theory or abstraction unless I see the practical application. I do have clear visions of the way things should be. I am fiercely loyal and hard-working. I like to be in charge. I am exceptionally capable in organising and running activities. I believe I am a "Good citizen" that values security and peaceful living.
As a leader of business, I want to make sure that things are done correctly, results are reliably produced, and standards are met. I make expectations clear to my team, not only what needs to be done but how and when to do it. When managing a project, I am typically methodical and detailed in my plans, and make sure that the end product is delivered exactly as expected. I trust the structures of authority, and typically seek to establish a clear hierarchy. I am comfortable with taking orders from seniors and I expect my reports to respect me in turn.
I tend to uphold the traditional way of doing things and may not always recognise the need for innovation. That is unless the innovation has come from me. I tend to trust my past experience. Although I have the skill set to lead my team through extensive change, I may not be comfortable leading into a wholly uncertain future. I am definitely better at implementing changes than conceiving of them. Once conceived however, in whatever way it is conceived - leave me to it, because the moves I make turning conception to reality, will be the right ones. I may show little flexibility after arriving at an agreed conclusion.
Fact - if you really want to wind me up - the phrase "Lets just wing it" will achieve your aim.
This isn't exclusive to me and my ESTJ comrades though, once you know your type, have a reference on this list, and tell me you don't feel the same.
INFP /ENFP "I'm voting Tory"
INFJ / ENFJ "Calm down, you're running on emotion right now"
INTP / ENTP "...because I said so..."
INTJ / ENTJ "Everything is out of control"
ISFP / ESFP "You don't have a choice"
ISTP / ESTP "Just do it like this"
ISFJ / ESFJ "I am not sure I need your help"
ISTJ / ESTJ "Let's just wing it"
Others like me - that you may have heard of
Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister.
Michelle Obama, U.S. First Lady.
Bernard Law Montgomery, British general.
Saddam Hussein, Iraqi dictator.
Augusto Pinochet, Chilean dictator.
Eliot Ness, U.S. law enforcement agent.
Alan Sugar English entrepreneur
Vinnie Jones English footballer and actor
Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter books
Boromir from The Lord of the Rings
Bryan Mills from the Taken movies
Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets
Darth Vader from Star Wars
Not forgetting, we are talking about personality traits here, we are not talking about actions taken - so please don't judge me when your read some of these names!
As a leader in retail in particular - and also in some hospitality, most of my employees had already taken the MBTI. The leaders in most businesses I worked with definitely knew of it, but some maybe had ignored it. They chose filing it in the 'no need to remember' tray in their brain. I used this to my advantage though. I had the power to know why I react like I do, I had become self aware and emotionally intelligent... Sounds like something from The Terminator, but it is very real, and insanely useful.
Even though MBTI is not an exact science, understanding the concept of personality and its fluidity definitely helped me understand relationships in the workplace over my career. Managing them was more difficult, because everybody has their own emotional trigger. I came across some absolute morons in senior positions along the way.... these people are the ones that need this the most, but accept criticism and focus the least.
So if you want to know your type - there are links below - embrace yourself. Let me know what type you are, and if you agree with it...
May the force be with you.