Using Personality Type to Develop Teams that Function

By Jack Speer | January 27, 2012

If you’re a training consultant who uses personality type, you may be in the right place at the right time. There are great opportunities for people who understand how organizations grow and scale.

Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, is a business novel that powerfully illustrates how successful teams are formed. In this fable Lencioni depicts the process of effectively turning around high-powered teams, and he outlines an applicable model for organizations in the real world.

Lencioni demonstrates that training is absolutely essential, as fundamental as chairs, tables, and computer equipment are in an office. Moreover, training consultants who use personality type are valuable assets to the development of successful teams.

The 1990s were a brutal period for corporate trainers, as many businesses began making cutbacks. Training was the subject of a lot of derision, dubbed with the epitaph of soft skills, and often scorned by executives as a total waste of time. When corporate budgets were slashed, training departments were often the first to go.

Today the opportunity for training consultants is with organizations that want to rapidly grow, increase revenue, and become key players in their industry. These companies are being led by extremely intelligent people who have had an enormous amount invested in them by their organization and are vital to their company’s success.

Using Personality Type to Align Teams

“Alignment” is the key word in working with teams today. Imagine a professional sports team comprised of highly talented players who make millions of dollars—each has a different understanding of which end of the field they’re running toward, who should have the ball, and what the rules of the game are.

This is the situation that incoming Silicon Valley CEO Kathryn, the protagonist of Lencioni’s book, faces at Decision Tech with a team of players who all come from different backgrounds with different agendas. Kathryn has to pull together marketing, technical, financial and the rest of the executive team who each see the world through a different “life windshield.”

In order to successfully align her team, Kathryn must get to the bottom of the way they see life and organizations. During one of their group sessions, she administers the MBTI™ to the team. Personality type assessment forms the basis of the discussions that follow and results in the eventual alignment of her team.

The traditional use of the term “team-building” is no longer relevant in today’s high-performing organizations. The companies we work with are already well built in terms of skill, education, and personal competency. However, dysfunction will arise from unaligned teams. People who think they are doing their part in building the organization will often act individually and out of sync with other members. The good news is that there is opportunity to achieve alignment through the use of type.