Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “An ISTJ walks into a branch office…” (Blog Post #3)

Considering the previous blog posts establishing a team scenario, this blog post will apply the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory to the team members and observer to apply analysis and insights into team dynamics. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality inventory that can establish order and consistency from random variation in behavior by evaluating the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgement (The Myers & Briggs Foundation). As an instrument, Myers & Briggs Foundation reports the wide use by a variety of individuals, although the MBTI also has its fair share of detractors who cite the lack of validation in long-term studies creating a “curiosity why the instrument is used so widely, particularly in large organizations” (Druckman, 1991, p. 99). Here, the overview of personality preferences offered by the MBTI is acknowledged, while recognizing the fluidity of personality types and seeking to learn from the situational implications.

Team Member Analysis

Brandon, Head of Sales, fits major characteristics of the ESFP type. Brandon is a charismatic leader with boundless optimism who struggles with the details of unfamiliar tangibles and avoids conflict by constantly moving beyond past challenges (The ESFP – Psychology Junkie). In the branch, Brandon’s top performer status yet constant avoidance of conflict within his own department are indicative of the strengths and weaknesses of an ESFP type (ESFP Relationships).

Holly, Head of Software Engineering, fits major characteristics of the ENFP type. Holly is a resourceful, encouraging leader who gives her team freedom to work (The ENFP – Psychology Junkie). Holly struggled with prioritizing, finishing projects, and keeping track of details (ENFP Relationships). As a developer, Holly was managed in organization and details, yet as a manager of developers, Holly struggled to motivate her team in a role that required detailed and organized methods.

Lisa, coordinator of change management, fits major characteristics of the ISFJ type. Lisa is a committed, organized team member who excelled in meeting deadlines (The ISFJ – Psychology Junkie). By often failing to take care of her own needs, Lisa often struggled with inability to see the big picture and was prone to burnout (ISFJ Relationships). The polarity of Lisa’s attributes created a team member quick to task completion with high accuracy, but unable to frame small issues in relation to overall operations. Lisa’s frequent outbursts spoke more of her own burnout than of the team member failings.


My MBTI classification as an ISTJ type (introverted, sensing, thinking, judging) emphasized responsibility and loyalty to organization and family, desire to work to fulfill commitments as promised on time. Potential faults include preference to complete work deemed necessary while resisting work that does not make sense (Myers & Myers, personal communication, 2020). In the scenario, my decade long commitment to the corporation, while advancing the mission of the branch instilled trust from corporate leaders to be entrusted to lead the branch through significant transition.

The strengths of the ISTJ type defined as stability in a chaotic work with a steady and sensible disposition while implementing plans and organizing people (Myers & Myers, personal communication, 2020). When I arrived at the branch, I devised a long term plan to change the branch operations despite the difficult mix of personalities while maintaining an eye on the overall goal of reshaping the branch as a functional segment of the corporation.

The weaknesses of the ISTJ type are defined as being social when comfortable and struggling to see the sense in needs that are different from my own (Myers & Myers, personal communication, 2020). From the moment of arrival at the branch, my leadership disposition was in an always on mode with few moments of downtime. Daily, there were personal disputes to settle which always involved one staff member calling out another. Without the time taken for daily reflection, making sense out of each team member’s needs was neglected in favor of considering the group’s dynamics.

Impact on Interactions

The team operated with primary leaders heavily weighted toward Feeling preference basing decisions and conclusions on personal and social values. This preference demonstrated a primary goal of understanding and harmony while maintaining a steadfast professional presence within the team (Drenth). These positive influences within the team provided a structural framework of positive-minded shared goals by team members. Emphasizing these as the overarching goal often served to rally the team beyond petty grievances.

Detrimental to the team was a misalignment of roles with Holly’s perceived ENFP type and leading a team driven by organization and detailed tasks. Holly struggled with factual data and making decisions on the logical pros and cons of outcomes (The ENFP – Psychology Junkie). As supervisor, having previously ignored deficits in Holly’s performance, I was required to address those deficits and assist her professional growth. By focusing on perceived deficits as an ENFP type, we were able to strengthen the leadership over the team with the most critical deliverables. Equally detrimental to the team was the impact of Lisa’s daily cycles of burnout and blame. Focusing on the fierce loyalty to the branch and the details of her role, I was able to reduce Lisa’s obsession on the mistakes of others.

Analysis Insights and Recommendations

Indicative of my preferences within the ISTJ type, I responded to the branch with a controlled and measured response. Other operational managers had been unable to succeed in uniting this team from the operational role. Considering the collective, perceived MBTI types of the team, leading with objective and fair responses while maintaining a sense of humor produced consistency and willingness for major members of the team to adjust their practice with more team-oriented goals in mind.

Prior to my arrival, the team had been heavily focused on management by group meeting. This style was not conducive to all preference types, particularly when considering the middle traits and SF leaders (Truskie, 2011, p. 4).  Based on the middle traits, I identified and encouraged Brandon (SF) as the charismatic crusader favoring cooperation and Lisa (SF) as a work horse and quiet champion each to leverage positive overall change on the organization.

The most significant recommendation from this exercise calls for leaders new to an organization to utilize the MBTI and other personality inventories as a means to test the water of the teams before jumping into the hard work of organizational change and optimization.  Reflection on this data and self-awareness of actions taken and the rationale for those actions remains a significant guide for future actions and decisions.


Drenth, A. J. (n.d.). Extraverted Feeling (Fe): A Closer Look.

Druckman, D. B. (1991). In the Mind’s Eye: Enhancing Human Performance.

National Academy Press.

Psychology Junkie. (n.d.). The ENFP – Psychology Junkie.

Psychology Junkie. (n.d.). The ESFP – Psychology Junkie.

Psychology Junkie. (n.d.). The ISFJ – Psychology Junkie.

Personality Page. (n.d.). ENFP Relationships.

Personality Page. (n.d.). ESFP Relationships.

Personality Page. (n.d.). ISFJ Relationships.

The Myers & Briggs Foundation. (n.d.). MBTI Basics.

Truskie, S. (2011). Coaching Transformational Leaders with the Myers-Briggs



By Matt Grinsell

Extensive experience as instructional and administrative leader assisting corporate, university and PK-12 organizations in fostering constructivist 21st Century learning for employees and students with emphasis on technology-based teaching and learning initiatives.

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