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    Mar 03, 2016    |   Aidan Millar

Type & Diversity Work: Making the Connection

This week, I am thrilled to be featuring a post by Dr. Katherine W Hirsh, coach, consultant and type practitioner, co author of Introduction to Type and Teams®, Introduction to Type and Decision Making®, Introduction to Type and Reintegration®, and co-author of The MBTI Teambuilding Program: Leader’s Resource Guide®. As Partner in HirshWorks LLC and Creator of The Diversity Dividend, Dr. Hirsh has contributed so much not only to the Type community, but continues to perpetuate the value of diversity in the workplace – and the world – by fostering understanding and acceptance of different perspectives both inward and outward. I encourage my readers to read more on Dr. Hirsh in her bio section following this post.

Post by Dr. facesKatherine W. Hirsh

Diversity. It’s big news lately – from the Oscar boycott to the composition of Justin Trudeau’s cabinet to the ongoing interest in Caitlyn Jenner. And it’s not just in the media, many businesses are climbing on board having heard about the value of a diverse workforce. Yet as the title of an article in the Economist explains “Making the most of workplace diversity requires hard work as well as good intentions.” So, how do we convert good intentions into practical outcomes? I would argue that people like you, people who work with personality type, are already well placed to initiate the sort of change efforts that lead to greater appreciation and more intentional cultivation of diversity. The goal of this post – and those to follow – is to illustrate why diversity work should be almost second nature to those of us who are passionate about fostering growth and helping people become more authentic and self-aware versions of themselves.

I believe that making personality type a fundamental cornerstone of your diversity work can increase the impact of such work and make that impact longer lasting. In this first post, therefore, I want to highlight three key principles of diversity work and elucidate what I see as their connection to type theory.

Principle 1: Diversity is personal.

The common understanding of diversity is that it is about who you are relative to a group and that to do diversity work is to help groups become more diverse. Therefore we typically see diversity work as something that focuses on changes to the processes for recruitment and hiring, the structures that support retention, promotion and talent management or the methods utilized in succession planning. Yet, what anyone who has a good working knowledge of personality type understands is that we ourselves, as unique individuals, contain diversity within us.

For example, think back to the last time you experienced being “in the grip.” It is with good reason that Naomi Quenk titled the two editions of her book Beside Ourselves and Was That Really Me? Eruptions of the 4th/Inferior Function (or any of the less conscious Functions) show us that there are parts of ourselves that don’t always feel natural or comfortable. Just as we see people who are different from us as Other, we often perceive these less conscious, less developed parts of ourselves as Not Me, and, like external others, marginalize them just as thoroughly. Nonetheless, they are a part of who we are and they influence what we say, think and do. Type theory can help us unpack these influences by bringing them into focus and giving us a language in which to talk about them. Thus, with type theory in your toolbox, diversity is not just about who is on your work team, but also about who you are, that is the parts of you that make up your personal cognitive, emotional and spiritual team.

Principle 2: Diversity is about awareness and intentional action.thinker-28741_1280 (2)

It isn’t enough for me to hang up a sign saying INTP (or, for that matter, one that says female, white, straight, middle class, etc.). I need to use the knowledge of my personal diversities to guide action and thought. When I know that I prefer Introversion and that although my preference is for Perception I also have an OOPS on Step II® for Early Starting, I can improve my outcomes in team situations by requesting plenty of time to get started, to change my mind and to make things nearly perfect, all before having to share my output with others. If I fail to do so and then complain about how I am treated or suggest that the behavior of others is the reason I am not able to do my best work, I am not owning who I am or what my needs are. This is a diversity awareness fail.

Similarly, when good type practitioners are more willing to look at how they can help their clients to change than they are to look at how they themselves can change in order to be more effective partners for their clients, they haven’t taken on the central message of both typology and diversity work – it starts with you, the individual and the development of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-compassion. Conversely, when we are doing our type work well, we are establishing a skills-base of self-management in the personal context can be transferred to understanding and honoring others.

Principle 3: While diversity is personal, it isn’t to be taken personally.

Recognizing our own diversities and asking for support to make the most of them are crucial starting points. This work can still go awry, though, if we give preferential treatment to our way of being, simply because it is our way. Like any other category on which people differ, typology when misunderstood can become a means for empowering some and marginalizing others rather than beginning of a conversation about how to achieve a balance between what works for me and what works for you or how to find the best way forward given the constraints of any particular situation.

Diversity work demands that we open ourselves up to the possibility that our way is not the single best way and make room for others to be their diverse selves. While recognizing the potential for stereotyping, I would argue that personality type can be a particularly efficient way to demonstrate the other-hand-shake-3valuing aspect of diversity work. When we introduce type appropriately, we describe sixteen equally valuable ways of being. That is, unlike in many other personality systems, there is no one best type, no “right” way to come out. Moreover, to affirm the value of one preference in no way diminishes the value of its opposite. In fact, I would argue that the reverse is true: when we recognize, for instance, that there is more than one way of taking in information – Sensing and Intuition, our notion of what that the process of perception entails is enriched. Such a mindset takes in the possibility that my way and your way might be different and concludes that this is a matter for rejoicing.

Done right, working with personality type promotes diversity by countering the assumption that diversity is about other people, by exposing the hubris of asserting that my way is the only way and through unleashing the energy for growth and development that emerges when we are working with rather than against our diverse selves. We all benefit when any one of us acknowledges the various parts of ourselves – our gifts, our identities and our challenges – and this benefit is multiplied when we acknowledge each other for our value as the unique and wonderful souls that we are. This is the diversity dividend.

About the Author

Dr. Hirsh is a partner in HirshWorks, LLC, a management and coaching consultancy devoted to improving the performance of individuals, groups, teams and organizations in their decision making, leadership, team work and teaching in order to increase personal and professional satisfaction and development. Dr Hirsh has been using psychological type and the MBTI® Tool in coaching, training, management consulting, education, and personal, professional and faculty development for over 25 years. She is a co-author with Elizabeth Hirsh and Sandra K. Hirsh of the second edition of Introduction to Type® and Teams and the second and third editions The MBTI® Teambuilding Program: Leader’s Resource Guide, co-author with Elizabeth Hirsh of Introduction to Type® and Decision Making and co-author with Elizabeth Hirsh and Jim Peak of Introduction to type® and reintegration: A framework for managing the transition home. CPP also publishes The MBTI® Decision-Making Style Report and portions of this report are integrated into the MBTI® Personal Impact Report. Dr Hirsh is active in the Type community, serving on the board of directors of the Association for Psychological Type International (APTi) in the tripartite role of President Elect-President-Past President from 2010-2012. She is a founding member of the APTi e-Chapter and was a program and curriculum evaluator for the APT International Online Learning Initiative.

Some of the organizations for whom Dr Hirsh has facilitated MBTI® workshops have included the Association for Psychological Type International, the Australian Council for Education Research, the Australian Association for Psychological Type, The British Association for Psychological Type The European Association for Psychological Type, the New Zealand Association for Psychological Type, the Ontario Association for the Application of Psychological Type (Canada), OKA, Oxford Psychologists Press (UK), Thrive (Ireland), Innovative HR Solutions (UAE), Coca-Cola NA, Medtronic, and Proctor & Gamble – Europe to name a few.

Additionally, Dr. Katherine W. Hirsh is the creator of The Diversity Dividend, a source of information and inspiration on all things concerning diversity. As she sees it, the challenge is to transform the notion of diversity from something that is force fed, top-down and prescribed by others into something that is internally driven, discovery-based, personally relevant and worthy of celebration. Whether it be leaders wanting to tap the talents of all team members or an HR manager tasked with addressing diversity issues, The Diversity Dividend is designed to show individuals and organizations how to take diversity programs in the direction of skill building and dynamic dialogue.

I’d like to thank Dr. Hirsh for her insights and numerous contributions to the world of Individual and Organizational Development. Stay tuned for more!

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