MBTI® Case Study

If you're wondering whether your company or team might benefit from using personality type awareness, here's what one person shared at the Association for Psychological Type International conference.

Enabling Transformation of the Leadership Team

presented by Doug Woodworth, Senior VP of HR for group insurance

Prudential is an insurance provider that has been in business for over 100 years - and has had clients on the books for that same amount of time. Revenues for 2012 came in at $3.9b. 

The company hit an inflection point a year ago. The industry is considered quite mature, yet the market place is constantly changing. Case in point: the US health reforms. The new president recognized that growth would be a challenge, and decided to tackle it head-on.

Starting with the leadership team

Success was defined by new business requirements, and the company culture was refocused on performance. "How we grow and equip the leaders is so important. Now we talk more about culture, talent, and leadership than anything else." says Woodworth.

"We use language of type to accelerate transformation."

Type and its equal appreciation of all inherent preferences helps provide a non-judgmental and effective language. People understand how they’re wired, what their development needs are, and how to work more effectively together. There is deep pride in the heritage of the business, and Type helped take out the 'right and wrong' judgments and focus on the present.

"The past is the past. Now it’s different, so we need to be different. No judgment. And we have no time, so we need to get it done quickly."

Enhanced development

Starting with the Senior Leadership team and then cascading down, Prudential invested in intensive 360 degree feedback cycles enhanced with Type. It helped both internal coaches and the executives speak to critical success factors. A common reaction was, "I’ve been coaching this person for 5 years, and now I finally understand what’s going on underneath and why the coaching didn’t work." Understanding comes in aha-moments and change happens over night. Adding the Type dimension to the 360 feedback helped all individuals understand how to leverage their tactics and preferences to the business' best advantage.

The program is having an enormous impact. It’s personal and relevant to the individuals, very successful, and there's now a year-long waiting list. People are fighting who gets in first. It has become a fundamental aspect to help them learn how to lead for leaders.

At the team level, Prudential introduced a suite of development solutions for enhanced leadership excellence. Using language of Type is a core theme to help teams work together and communicate more effectively. Team members hold each other accountable, solve problems, and work more effectively. They now know how to leverage different preferences across the team.

We use Type inside of business-relevant topics and issues for the team. We use it to solve business issues. Some businesses return to profitability, others that are mature figure out how to stay relevant. Type is the DNA in the thread of dialogue in all our work.

Type also helped enhance leadership excellence across functions. Prudential is an organization with great experience and lots of silos. A virtual team of 30 members was brought together for the first time in one room. During a Type workshop, all learned how to come together through Type virtually, solve problems, and lead.

"It was a true poke in the eye"

The Z-problem-solving model was a particular favorite. Leaders walked through it and observers saw aha moments happen in front of their eyes. Leaders commented, "This happens every day - we’re already executing before knowing what the problem is." Now the Z-model is applied to actual business problems as a practical tool: first, starting with Sensing (what is the actual situation?), then continuing to Intuiting (what are the possibilities?), then on to Thinking (what are the logical consequences?) and to Feeling (what are the people and values affected by this decision?).

Key lessons

Type has to be done exceptionally well. 

  • Information is more easily retained when you have multiple touch points - don't just offer one day training and be done with it; follow-up Type-aware coaching is essential
  • Don’t overwhelm with all Type knowledge at once, spoon-feed by relevant interaction

Type is an enabler for a broader set of work, going beyond understanding how we're wired to applying it to actual issues

  • Breakthroughs happen time after time when it’s personal, relevant, practical, and you practice the knowledge immediately
  • Make sure every person knows how to do at least one thing differently that gets measurable results

If you'd like to learn more about how Type has been applied at other companies, please review the case studies available on cpp.com or contact me to talk about bringing Type to your organization.