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    May 20, 2021    |   Camille Labrie

Myers-Briggs and the Golden Circle

2 minute read

Written by Shawn Bakker, Psychologist

Start with Why

Many of you might recognize the title above from Simon Sinek’s popular book. His key premise of The Golden Circle is that we spend too much time focusing on what we do, rather than why we do it – and this is a mistake. If we focus on the why first, we can better engage others, because it helps them connect with us at a deeper level – one of shared values and purpose.


So – “Why use the MBTI instrument?”

When we first try to answer that question it is easy to inadvertently respond with answers that describe what we use the MBTI® instrument for. We end up saying things such as: team building, improving communication, exploring careers, leadership development. All of these are what we do, not why we do it.

Why explores the driving purpose, the values, the philosophy that guides the specifics of what you do.  Here is an example of a why response: The reason why I use the MBTI instrument is because people are different and I believe those differences are valuable. Here is another: The reason why I use the MBTI instrument is because self-awareness is the first stepping stone to development. Isabel Myers’ goal in developing the MBTI instrument, her why, was to help people become aware of, appreciate, and then constructively use personality differences.

This directly influences how we interpret results from the MBTI assessment and what it is used for. The reason it is called an indicator is because the MBTI instrument is not a test. The indicator looks at preferences, not skills or capabilities. There are no right or wrong answers – all preferences are equally valid and valuable; they are just different. There are no good or bad types – each brings their own unique and useful perspective to the things they do.

Many of the misconceptions about the MBTI assessment result from not understanding that how Katherine and Isabel developed the indicator, and what it should be used for, was influenced by why they developed it. They wanted to help people get insights into themselves and others, and use this information to make clearer perceptions and sounder judgments.

In your work, why do you use the MBTI instrument? In answering this question make sure you aren’t describing what you do, or how you do it. Instead, consider your driving purpose and the values that drive your use of the indicator. Communicating this to your current and potential clients will drive better engagement. It can take some time to get it clear. Answering why requires diving into things that are quite fuzzy at first, but incredibly rewarding in the end.

If you would like to dive further into the how and what of the MBTI, here are a few resources that I recommend, organized by the questions I hear: The_MBTI_Playbook_How_to_Deliver_MBTI_Programs_Organizations

And remember. Start with why.