Personality Types in Business

What’s your type?

Jung defined his personality types back in the 30s, but they can be surprisingly helpful in improving teamwork and personal performance today.

Carl Jung is one of the founders of psychotherapy alongside Freud and has had a profound influence on all areas of modern human understanding. What many do not realise is that he was the first thinker to look at human behaviour in terms of personality types. Most of us in business will at some point have come across a training or motivational programme that involves an adaptation of these types. Using the old adage that the original is the best, this introduces you to how Jung’s types can apply in business. Understanding these types can help us to spot when we have a square peg in a round hole, or why a team isn’t working.

There are four functional types, but each of these can be introverted or extraverted, making eight in total.

Introvert or extravert?

Extraverts relate to the world outside and are largely influenced by the reaction of others to them. These people are therefore excellent presenters and communicators. They like to please others. This makes them easy to manage in one sense, because they will respond well to praise and direction from their boss. However, they can also be overly sensitive to criticism and that can involve ‘high maintenance’, because the manager has to be careful how things are put to them and has to reassure them of their worth if they receive too much challenge from colleagues, customers or suppliers.

Introverts on the other hand relate to the world by looking inward. They therefore are self-motivating and work for self-satisfaction, rather than for praise. They like to be left alone and to get on with things and dislike meetings or discussion. They can be difficult to manage because they like to do their own thing, not being too concerned about what others or their boss thinks, as long as they have done themselves justice in their eyes. However, on the good side, they will stick to their guns and are not easily swayed. An introvert is the sort of person that a manager can sit at a computer and trust to design a project or write software or copy, but he/she will often need an extravert to present his/her ideas to others and make things happen. Put these two types together and you have a great team and all successful teams have a balance of both.

The four functions

Thinking types

Thinking people have logical, probing and questioning minds, they are good at seeing cause and effect, analysing situations and reaching logical conclusions. They like facts and need proof. In business they are the project managers, the programme writers and the scientists. They can be distant socially and emotionally. The extravert thinking person loves order and facts and will want to impose his/her vision and understanding on the world, he/she is therefore very good for pushing projects through.

The introvert thinker is very different, he/she will tend to come up with ideas and plans without much thought for their practicality. Whilst the extravert thinker is out there making things happen, the introvert is at home coming up with the next idea, but will need an extravert to help him/her understand if that idea is practical or not. Introvert thinkers tend to be the software or business developers

Feeling Types

These types go with what they feel in their gut. They instinctively know what is right and are often warm and creative people. They are good judges of character. The extravert is a great team player, jovial and encouraging to everyone. They love mixing socially and oil the wheels of conversation. They can, however be a bit shallow and insincere at times, sacrificing the truth for harmony or success. They are often seen in marketing and sales and can frustrate the thinkers with their quick decisions and judgements. In turn they are frustrated by the thinker’s need to analyse and check all the facts, becoming impatient.

The introvert feeling type, on the other hand, is reserved and quiet, but can often be the conscience of a group, with a telling observation or comment at the right moment.

Sensation Types

These types, if extraverts, love rolling their sleeves up and getting their hands dirty. They enjoy machines and are great at fixing them. They are often wheeler-dealers, traders, importers and hardware suppliers. They are pleasure seeking and love a beer after work or a good curry.

Introverts on the other hand live in their own world and are a bit out of touch with others. They find it hard to express themselves in groups and will not be prominent in a team. However, they will be good at making things work, but will need to be asked and brought into the group if you want to know what they are thinking.

Intuitive Types

These types become uninterested in the way things are and will often make decisions without knowing all the facts. They easily get bored with convention and look for news ways of doing things; they are therefore great for helping to find ways around problems, if you can get them to engage. They rarely see things through to the end and they can trample upon others to get what they want. They need to have people around them to make sure that projects are run competently. However, with their willingness to take risks and run with ideas they make great entrepreneurs and CEO’s. Richard Branson is a good example of this type.

The introvert intuitive lives in a world of dreams and visions and is rarely seen in business, unless it is a new age shop!

The Meeting

So, how might a meeting go with one of each of these types present? I should point out that the chosen sex for each person is random; all types can be equally male or female.

Extravert Thinker: She is the project manager, who presents the plan to the team. She is forthright, well informed and determined to achieve acceptance for her plan.

Introvert Thinker: He works with the extravert and wrote much of the plan, spending two weeks at home on his own to do so, he is quite happy for the extravert to take the limelight however, as he is uncomfortable presenting.

Extravert Feeling Type: This is the marketing guy. He is jolly and upbeat and comes up with a couple of new ideas that he knows will work and gets frustrated with the thinkers’ mistrust of his gut instinct. He’d also like quicker delivery. He gets most of what he wants through charm and conviction, but does accept the thinkers’ insistence that he should fund some more research to check out his ideas.

Introvert Feeling Type: She is the software developer and doesn’t really know why she is at the meeting. She is quiet and bored throughout, although at one point she does pipe up to point out that one of the marketing guy’s ideas is completely impractical.

Extravert Sensation Type: This is the sales director. He gets annoyed both with the thinkers and the feelers, because neither of them is at the coalface. He knows how things really are. He is quite happy for them to prattle on as long as he gets what his customers want, at a good price and with good trade terms. He suggests at the end of the meeting that they all go for a pie and a pint, where he prefers to put forward his views rather than at the meeting, wheeling and dealing.

Introvert Sensation type: She runs a small team at the technical centre. She gives good expert advice when asked, but otherwise doodles.

Extravert Intuitive: The boss. Wants to know what, when, how, but no detail. He has another meeting that day, where he will discuss the next major idea he has had. He leaves before the end of the meeting, making clear that jobs are on the line if the project isn’t a success.

Introvert Intuitive: The copywriter. The marketing manager thought that it would be useful if he came along to get more background on the project, but he had forgotten to put the meeting in his diary and doesn’t show up. Everyone, however, does really like his ideas, which the marketing manager had brought along with him.

So, there you have it. Which type are you? And when you are next at a meeting, look around. What types are your colleagues?

© Shaun Goodwin 2005

To find out your type, and for more about Jung’s theory:

Shaun Goodwin

Following a successful career in sales and marketing with Procter and Gamble, Shaun became a freelance Senior Management Consultant in the mid 90s. He has managed a wide variety of projects at a senior level, with a focus on strategic planning and implementation, including the facilitation of planning and strategic workshops.

Shaun’s role has often included help with team building and interpersonal skills – effectively helping people to work together better in a wide range of industries.  His experience is global and he has frequently blended people from different cultures, functions and national localities into successful teams.

To assist with his knowledge in these areas he is at present studying part time for a Masters Degree in transpersonal psychotherapy.

Recent clients have included Nationwide, Motorola, Virgin, ntl, Manpower, Carillion, BT, France Telecom, Redemptorist Publications, GE Smallworld, Time Computers, Financial Times, and Optelma Lighting


2010, PeopleKatie MayerComment