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An Introduction to the Firo-Element B®
Linda J. Burrs

The Firo-Element B® is an inventory based on a theory designed around how people interact. Dr. Will Schutz introduced his theory of interpersonal relations (FIRO) based on the behavioral desires for inclusion, control and openness. (Openness was formerly known as affection.) The original Firo-B instrument has evolved over the years as a result of expanded research, which has strengthened the validity of the instrument. The Firo-Element B version of the inventory is the product of 45 years of continued development.A particular strength is that it is compatible with the MBTI® . Used together they make an especially powerful pair of assessment tools to improve self-understanding and develop skills in managing interpersonal relationships.Firo theory suggests that since you've spent most of your life creating yourself, you can also choose to change what you want and need to change about yourself. The three behavioral dimensions measured by Firo-Element-B are Inclusion, Control, and Openness. They are designed around 12 primary scales that may slide as circumstances or events warrant.

Inclusion This level of interaction revolves around how much contact with others is wanted or desirable. There are times, people want to be around and engaged with other people and as such tend to be outgoing, approachable, and easily engaged. They even seek out others to be with. Then there are other times, when the same individuals may desire fewer interactions resulting in lower inclusion needs.

Control This behavioral level is concerned with an individual's need or desire for control over others. Typically, those with high control needs appear "bossy". They enjoy telling others what to do and how and when to do it…in other words, they take pleasure in being in charge. As with the 2 other behavioral elements, there are times when not being in charge is very appealing to these individuals to the extent that they may look for opportunities and situations when someone else will give them orders. At this time, their need for control is low.

Openness The third area of Firo-Element B theory explains an individual's need to be open. This includes sharing even quite personal thoughts and feelings with others. Typically, they frequently want and do share their private areas with at least one or two people. When an individual's needs for openness is low, they will appear closed, non-personal and even aloof.

Interpreting the ScalesThe twelve scales of the Firo-Element B are based on differences between what an individual wants and what they do or what they get or want to get. Dick Thompson, Ph.D., a FIRO certification trainer and an associate of Will Schutz, emphasizes a number of key points in interpreting Element B results:

  • The scales are not terminal - they can and do change

    Derive their meaning primarily from the person's interpretation versus impersonal statistics

    Are meant to be starting points for exploration and growth, they are NOT meant to be definitive or limiting

    Do not encourage typology, i.e. do not categorize people as an 'open' type or 'including' type, etc.

  • Assume you have the capacity to change anything you do not like about your behavior . . . if you allow yourself to learn how

Some of the valuable applications for using the Firo-Element B include:

  • Team Building - around compatibility, dynamics, development and effectiveness

    Coaching - leadership style, communication style and interaction style.

    Leadership - leadership style, control needs and communication style

  • Personal development - communication style, personal development challenges and strengths, communication style.

By using the Firo- Element B, individuals or teams can better understand how wants and/or behaviors can help to form subcultures and therefore contribute to resistance. It may also explain to a great extent how relationships stall or fail to develop. Understanding the difference between what one wants and what one is getting can be extremely helpful in getting team to work together effectively and individuals to communicate, relate and understand not only their own personal wishes, but also the desires of those around them.It is important to note that in Schutz's overall scheme of personality, the Firo-Element B is only one of 10 Human Elements. Each element has its own instrument.

References Thompson, D. (2000). zBPT-Firo Element-Band and Psychological Type2. GLAPT Conference.

Linda J. Burrs (ESTJ) of Step-Up-To-Success! Coaching & Consulting, a professional development consulting firm focusing on managers, teams and individuals. Qualified in the MBTI, Communication Wheel, and FIRO Element B., she offers an array of workshops as well as individual coaching for managers and team members. Contact her at (937) 866-7511 or lindaburr@aol.com

Workplace Diversity - More than a Notion

Linda Burrs, MA

Oh no, here they go again…not another workplace diversity initiative…not another diversity article…not another diversity program!

Sound familiar?

What's wrong with this scenario?

The problem is that for far too long, diversity has been the "whipping post" for many issues in organizations that are not necessarily about diversity in and of themselves. . .

Read the rest of this article on "Workplace Diversity" on Linda's website

More Entrepreneurs Take Help of Executive Coaches
Karen Ostrov, PhD

It is tremendously exciting to open the newspaper these days and read great articles about the growing profession of executive and business coaching. Here's a brief look at what's in the news.

Have you hired a coach to help you jump-start your career? What are you waiting for? The smart entrepreneur is the latest to be linked with hiring an executive coach to deal with the pressures of rapid growth and change. The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Sept. 5, 2000 with this headline "MORE ENTREPRENEURS TAKE HELP OF EXECUTIVE COACHES." The author, Eleena de Lisser, states that business coaching has gone beyond the sole province of rising stars in Fortune 500 companies. Entrepreneurs, particularly in high-tech fields turn to coaches for help and support in dealing with the issues of how to lead amidst an unstable and unpredictable business world, especially in high tech and international businesses. She sights the results of a survey of CEOs with 32% reporting that their own ability to manage or reorganize their business could be an impediment to growth during the next 12 months. Just seven years ago, only 10% reported this concern. Some entrepreneurs interviewed for the article believe that working with a coach gives them an edge. For instance, Alec Hudnut, CEO of Quisic, Inc., an Internet company in L.Z\A. has led his company's growth from 15 to 350 employees. Having his coach around to guide him through change was a necessity. His coach is a confidant with whom he tests ideas and gets insight and feedback into how to communicate his ideas better with his staff and lead change effectively. The coach helped him figure out how to delegate responsibility and focus on fewer business areas.

Learning to trust your staff and let go is often one of the toughest skills for an entrepreneur to learn. On the local front, Madison, Wisconsin, USA press is at last picking up on the business coaching trend. Our own WSJ (that stands for, Wisconsin State Journal) ran an article on Sunday, Sept. 10,2000 with the headline, "More coaches turning up in workplace". Christina Hange Kukuk of Knight Ridder Newspapers describes a scenario of an unhappy employee who's the victim of the Peter Principle. With the help of a business coach, the employee comes to realize she enjoyed her former job and though it sounds odd to voluntarily demote oneself, the coach helped her discover the source of her unhappiness at work. Eager to retain top talent, companies are turning to coaching to increase productivity and morale. One of the many roles of the coach is to ask hard questions to challenge the employee to refocus his or her perspective, improve performance and make decisions. With companies already as lean and mean as they are going to get, great organizations are realizing they need to invest in developing their talent to keep these remaining people happy and productive.

Contact me by v-mail or e-mail if you want to read the articles in their entirety.

Karen Ostrov, Ph.D. (ENFP) of KONECT Consulting, helps clients improve business results through better communication. Providing executive coaching, business consultation, organizational analysis, and professional support to human resource management. Contact her at (608) 233-6225 or ksostrov@facstaff.wisc.edu

Positive Psychology and the MBTI
Stephanie Whiting, MA, MS

Positive psychology, the study of optimal well-being, is the focus of the January 2000 issue of the American Psychologist, the Journal of the American Psychological Association. Historically, psychology has been a science with an exclusive focus on pathology, according to guest editors Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. They describe psychology as a science that concentrates on repairing damage within a disease model of human functioning, a model which ignores factors that enable individuals, families and communities to flourish.

Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi point out that in the past decade psychologists have become more concerned with prevention, systematically building competencies rather than correcting weaknesses. Prevention researchers have found that there are human strengths that act as buffers against mental illness. The authors believe that psychology can play an important role in documenting these positive individual traits, such as the capacity for love and vocation, courage, interpersonal skill, perseverance, forgiveness, originality, spirituality and wisdom. At the group level, they believe positive psychology can articulate and study the role of responsibility, nurturence, altruism, moderation, tolerance and work ethic. Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi predict that psychology in the new century will achieve a scientific understanding and effective interventions that promote individual and collective well-being.

I am heartened by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi's call for a more growth-oriented, strength-based science of psychology. As a mental health counselor and formerly, a health educator, I have used a wellness-based approach, affirming individuals for their innate strengths and abilities. Using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator has been invaluable in helping clients to identify and recognize how they prefer to be in the world. As an intervention, the MBTI has a positive, developmental focus that individuals find affirming when they may be feeling entirely alienated and not valued for who they are or how they prefer to function in a social context.

As type practitioners, I believe we practice a positive psychology. We encourage the development of optimal well-being by helping people to identify positive individual traits for better self-understanding and an appreciation of others. We encourage them to grow and develop a balance in their functions and attitudes so that they can improve problem-solving and decision-making skills. By educating people about the contextual aspects of type, we illustrate ways that couples, families, teams or organizations can communicate more effectively and work together more productively with the ultimate result being more rewarding relationships.

The fifteen articles in the January 2000 American Psychologist discuss positive personal traits (such as subjective well-being, optimism, self-determination), implications for mental and physical health, and fostering excellence. They are meant to be a broad overview of literature including cross-disciplinary links and practical applications. Perhaps a future MAPT meeting can include a discussion of one or more of the articles and implications for the MBTI.

Stephanie Misaki Whiting, MA, MS, (ENFJ) is a mental health counselor who is interested infostering wellness in our lives, both at home and in the workplace. She guides individuals and groups towards increasing their knowledge, skills and awareness in interpersonal communication, diversity and gender issues, team building and stress reduction. swhiting48@gmail.com

Click here for a Bio on Stephanie Whiting

How Executive Coaching Is Helping Madison Business Leaders
Karen Ostrov, PhD

Developing the leadership core competencies of an executive is a critical factor to business success because fast-paced, global competition leaves less margin of error in decision making. In addition, the tight labor market makes the presence or absence of good leadership the variable that can make or break a company. That is why executive coaching is an emerging practice in the field of corporate training and development. In addition, corporate investment in leadership skill training impacts companies through increased productivity, improved communication, increased employee commitment, and decreased tension and stress.
An executive coach works with people on the difficult things they need to do everyday as leaders. Leadership skills are not only a part of a middle or senior manager's role, but are needed by project leaders and technical and professional people who must build support for their innovations.
The coaching process is usually one-on-one at the workplace, in an office or meeting room, allowing the client to work in depth on his/her identified areas needing development and improvement. Here are three local examples of how coaching impacts the development of leadership competencies. The participants whose names are used granted permission to do so because they wanted to share the benefits of their coaching experience.Vision

A leader needs to visualize those changes that would help a company meet its future needs, achieve employee alignment with these views, and instill the desire in others to put those ideas into action.When Belkis Dell took over as General Manager at New Horizons Computer Learning Center, she saw how easy it was for managers to agree in concept with proposed changes, but how difficult it was to put it into practice. Belkis found that her managers sometimes unintentionally worked against each other which created extra work.
She chose to first focus on improving her competencies in clearly communicating her vision of having her managers work as a cohesive team. In coaching meetings, she discussed how to navigate through the expected resistance to her efforts. With the help of a coach, she developed strategies to meet resistance head on, articulate her direction and. foster desire among managers to align themselves with her and work together.
She decided to model for her managers the behavior of acknowledging when she didn't know something, identifying what she needed to know, and asking for help- the hardest thing for a leader to do.Fostering The Skills For Change Needed In OthersLeaders need to be able to create a positive working environment where employees feel safe experimenting with new communication pathways.
"Jeanne", the President of a Dane County technology consulting firm, was looking for ways to develop her growing staff and make the entire enterprise more efficient and productive. Working with a coach helped her pinpoint some specific areas of workplace communication and team building that needed attention. Working one -on -one, the coach helped her raise her level of skill in interpersonal communication. Then the coach facilitated team building meetings that involved the entire staff. Increased energy, zest, and commitment to work towards a common goal were all positive outcomes of the coaching process.Risk-Taking And VenturesomenessOne of the most difficult competencies for a leader to acquire is to have the courage to try something new, even when the data supporting it are incomplete as is often the case. Leaders must develop the skill and the nerve to move ahead when others might be more cautious, in other words, to take risks.Mark Nash had been Operations Manager at Full Compass Systems Ltd., Middleton, a growing audio-visual equipment company for some time. When promoted to General Manager, he found his biggest challenge was handling the risks involved in supervising his former peers. He now had more layers of people to work through to resolve problems and stronger personalities to persuade to his way of thinking. His own hands were no longer on the levers to make things work.
To make a successful job transition, Mark sought the resources of an executive coach. Coaching provided Mark a forum to talk through the inevitable challenges that come with promotion from within. Putting up front time into discussing strategic options helped Mark gain more confidence in using the essential leadership skills of being less cautious and more willing to work with uncertainties when working towards large goals and when the methods to achieve them were more abstract.

In summary, these three coaching scenarios illustrate how a coach can guide individuals in the development of communication and leadership competencies within their job setting.

Karen Ostrov, Ph.D. (ENFP) of KONECT Consulting, helps clients improve business results through better communication. Providing executive coaching, business consultation, organizational analysis, and professional support to human resource management. Contact her at (608) 233-6225 or ksostrov@facstaff.wisc.edu

Workplace Stress: The Bottom Line
Stephanie Whiting, ENFJ

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), four out of 10 American workers view their jobs as the largest cause of stress in their lives. Workplace stress has increasingly been cited in surveys as commonplace and, more importantly, it contributes to increased absenteeism, tardiness and worker dissatisfaction leading to intentions to quit. The cost to an organization can be considerable.So how can management begin to ameliorate stress in the workplace? A good beginning is to understand the social factors surrounding stress.Social Factors
For employees, one of the most important factors in their work environment is a sense of social support. According to the American Journal of Health Promotion, the single best predictor of employee commitment to an organization is their belief that management cares about their well-being. Low employee commitment often results in decreasing productivity, a lower quality of work performance and eventually, staff turnover.Tips for Building a Healthy Organization

1. Recognize and acknowledge employees for their contribution
What better way to demonstrate management's appreciation of worker value? Formal recognition of employee contribution whether individual, departmental or from the organization as a whole, is a way management can build and support worker commitment.2. Offer opportunities for training and career development
Training opportunities are an investment in both the employee's and the organization's future. In addition to keeping an organization current in the latest technology, knowledge and skills, management's concern for employee career growth is both a means of social support and a value-added job component.

3. Value worker input
Create a system through which employees have a voice. Does your organization solicit suggestions from their workers? One of the most basic of human needs is to feel part of a community and to be heard. Are employees asked about their experience in the workplace? They are part of the eyes and ears of the organization. Use their knowledge to assess and improve workplace efficiency.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise
Wealth is measured in more than one way. Employee well-being, a healthy organization and company bottom line may all benefit from consideration of social factors in the workplace. Increasing social support in an organization can be a powerful step towards addressing worker stress. When half of our waking hours are spent on the job, workplace stress becomes a quality of life issue. Building a sense of social support for employees helps them to see that management cares about their well-being.

Stephanie Misaki Whiting, MA, MS, (ENFJ) is a mental health counselor who is interested infostering wellness in our lives, both at home and in the workplace. She guides individuals and groups towards increasing their knowledge, skills and awareness in interpersonal communication, diversity and gender issues, team building and stress reduction. swhiting48@gmail.com

Click here for a Bio on Stephanie Whiting

Books on Type Theory and Types in The Workplace
I've Liked Best
By Pierre Ferrand

I have been reviewing books on type and type-related books for more than a decade, including, since 1995, for the BULLETIN OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE, the Newsletter of the APT. Before that, I worked for non-profit organizations, and then, for over thirty years, as a credit specialist and consultant in international banks, evaluating companies and institutions world-wide. The following is an annotated list of books on type and type in the workplace I've liked best:

1. It is necessary, of course, to start with type theory. Many users of type have been introduced to it through Isabel Briggs Myers's booklet, INTRODUCTION TO TYPE. The more fortunate among us benefited from the early versions, including the Fourth Edition (1987), which preserves much of Isabel's own wording, rather than the later, more commercialized products whose "improvements" are largely peripheral and typographical, while they lost some of the unique spirit of the Myers-Briggs.Isabel Briggs Myers's own book, GIFTS DIFFERING: UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY TYPE, was originally published 1980. The latest edition is dated 1995. This type classic, which has sold more than 150,000 copies, is still well worth reading. Isabel B.Myers not only created the Indicator and its validation process. but eloquently stressed appreciation of the value and contributions of different gifts. Her non-judgmental attitude and refusal to label people or to confine them to their type is also part of the basic type ethics. So is her emphasis on type development and type dynamics. The book discusses a number of applications of type, including communicating, education, career choices and self development.

2. It is not indispensable to be a Jungian to appreciate or use type, but an understanding of the relevant theories of Carl Jung will lend more depth to an exploration of typology. Jung's own seminal work, PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES, is not reader-friendly for a Twenty-first Century American. My favorite introduction to his typological thought is the volume by Daryl Sharp, PERSONALITY TYPES: JUNG'S MODEL OF TYPOLOGY, 1987. This readable, useful and generally reliable presentation of Jung's views on the subject has not yet been superseded, to my mind, by the books of Angelo Spoto and others.

3. For questions you may have about the theory and practice of typology, one of the best sources of informed, straightforward and usable answers is the volume by William C. Jeffries, TRUE TO TYPE, 1991. I recommend it to all MBTI trainers and consultants, as well as to their clients, as a most valuable reference tool stressing many of the issues they ought to keep in mind.

4. A final selection on type theory is Rowan Bayne's THE MYERS-BRIGGS INDICATOR: A CRITICAL REVIEW AND PRACTICAL GUIDE, 1995. This is a highly informed and intelligent book which more than keeps the promise of its title.

5. A common sense observation is that it is frequently not possible to have your clients, colleagues or bosses take the Indicator and share their MBTI results with you. A responsible and ethical use of type theory for purposes of better relations in the workplace and elsewhere is still possible through what Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen have called "Typewatching" (their registered trademark). They popularized the concept through their book, TYPE TALK, 1988, which is, I believe, the first type book issued by a trade publisher. They by no means question the value of more in-depth investigation of type through the Indicator and the validation process by private consultation with an expert. However, "typewatching" will have to do in a number of real life situations. Their TYPE TALK AT WORK (1991) focuses more specifically on workplace problems.Their books are very well-informed on type and mindful of the ethical issues involved. Their approach is responsible, constructive and balanced. They also display a delightful sense of humor.It is noted that in less responsible hands, the approach can and has sometimes degenerated into pop psychology, stereotyping and name-calling, which can do harm. Kroeger and Thuesen have avoided these pitfalls, and their books can be highly recommended.

6. A valuable book on the fine art of company watching is THE CHARACTER OF ORGANIZATIONS; USING JUNGIAN TYPE IN ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, by William Bridges, 1992. The author uses an "Organization Character Index" he developed, based on the Indicator. His innovative approach shows a way to evaluate an organization's culture, and why they act as they do.

7. WORK IT OUT; CLUES FOR SOLVING PEOPLE PROBLEMS AT WORK, by Sandra Krebs Hirsh and Janet Kise, 1996, is unquestionably one of the best introductions to type in organizations. The book is attractive and most readable, and can be highly recommended for both staff and management.

8. An in-depth study of the problems involved can benefit from the outstanding anthology edited by Catherine Fitzgerald and Linda K. Kirby, DEVELOPING LEADERS; RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, 1997. The seventeen papers by nineteen authorities cover much of recent research and practice.

9. Roger R. Pearman's HARDWIRED LEADERSHIP, 1998, is a first-rate practical manual. I like everything about the book except its title (and subtitle). It is a highly responsible, up-to-date and expert analysis of the constructive use of human differences in the workplace. He also has a democratic approach to the concept of leadership which I find highly attractive (and useful for the 21st century).

10. In addition to the above, I would like to single out for praise CAPT's recent series of "Looking at Type" booklets ( five to date, of 56-77 pages each, published 1995-1997). Relevant to type theory and the workplace are the two publications authored by Charles B. Martin, LOOKING AT TYPE; THE FUNDAMENTALS, and LOOKING AT TYPE AND CAREERS, also, Larry Demarest's TYPE IN THE WORKPLACE. In addition, the 28 page booklet published in London by Jenny Rogers, PERSONALITY TYPES AT WORK IN ORGANIZATIONS, contains some of the best descriptions of type I have seen anywhere.All the above books and booklets (except for the one by Rowan Bayne), are available through the Center For Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) according to their 2000 catalog.


Pierre Ferrand. (INTP) is an author, journalist and scholar who resides in Evanston, Illinois. He is well-known in the type community for his even-handed, yet insightful critiques of published works on psychological type theory and applications. His columns also appear regularly in the Bulletin of Psychological Type.

Pierre can be reached at (847) 864 -1627or pierrewriter@aol.com


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* While commonly referred to as the Myers Briggs Test or the MBTI test, the MBTI ® is not a test but a personality inventory or instrument in which there are no right or wrong answers.


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