Two of the most popular personality and strengths assessment tools in contemporary times are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Gallup Strengths Model (often known as CliftonStrengths or formerly as StrengthsFinder). Both instruments offer unique insights into the inner workings of individuals, aiding in personal development, team dynamics, and leadership strategies. But how do these two models intersect, and can they be mapped onto each other? Let’s dive in.
Understanding the Fundamentals
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): Based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types, the MBTI classifies individuals into one of 16 personality types based on four dichotomies: Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving. These types offer insights into how people perceive the world and make decisions.
- Gallup Strengths Model: Derived from decades of Gallup research, the StrengthsFinder assessment identifies a person’s top talent themes from a list of 34 possible themes. It concentrates on understanding an individual’s innate strengths and how they can be leveraged for maximum potential.
Mapping the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to Gallup’s CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) can be a complex endeavour. Both models explore human behaviour and preference from distinct angles, so any mapping can only be approximate. Nevertheless, let’s give it a try based on dominant traits or tendencies for each MBTI type.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- Comprehensive Framework: Provides a holistic view of personality by examining preferences across four dichotomies (E/I, S/N, T/F, J/P).
- Widely Recognized: One of the most popular personality tools globally, with extensive resources and communities.
- Established History: Has been used for decades, allowing for a rich body of literature and application in various sectors.
- Binary Approach: The MBTI categorizes individuals into one of two opposing preferences, which can oversimplify complex personality traits.
- Reliability Concerns: Some research indicates that people might receive different MBTI types when retaking the test over time.
- Lack of Empirical Support: Some critics argue that the MBTI lacks robust empirical support compared to other psychological instruments.
- Easy to Understand: The 16 personality types can be quickly grasped and applied.
- Team Building: Provides insights for teamwork and communication based on personality preferences.
- Career Guidance: Often used for career planning and counselling.
- Potential for Stereotyping: The distinct 16 types can lead to pigeonholing or misinterpretation.
- Not Clinical: It’s not designed for clinical or diagnostic purposes.
Gallup Strengths (CliftonStrengths)
- Focus on Positivity: Concentrates on individual strengths and how to harness them for growth.
- Broad Range of Themes: Offers a comprehensive list of 34 themes to cover a vast range of individual strengths.
- Backed by Research: Developed through extensive research and studies by Gallup.
- Limited Scope: While it focuses on strengths, it doesn’t delve deeply into areas of improvement or weaknesses.
- Cost: Access to all 34 strengths often requires a purchase, while other assessments might provide a more comprehensive free report.
- Personal Development: Encourages individuals to work from a strengths-based perspective, which can be motivating.
- Practical Applications: Used by organizations for talent development, team building, and leadership training.
- Detailed Descriptions: Provides in-depth insights into each strength and how it manifests in individual behaviour.
- Potential Neglect of Weaknesses: By focusing mainly on strengths, individuals might overlook areas that need improvement or development.
- May Not Be Comprehensive: As it leans toward strengths, it might not provide a holistic view of personality like other assessments.
Both Myers-Briggs and Gallup Strengths offer valuable insights but from different perspectives. While MBTI categorizes personalities into types, CliftonStrengths identifies individual strengths. The best choice depends on the specific goals of the assessment – whether it’s understanding personality nuances or maximizing individual strengths. As with any tool, it’s essential to understand its limitations and use it as part of a broader strategy for personal or organizational development.
- ISFJ – The Protector
- Gallup Strengths: Responsibility, Empathy, Harmony, Consistency, Relator
- Rationale: Known for their nurturing nature, ISFJs prioritize interpersonal harmony and are deeply committed. Their preference for stable, consistent environments aligns with strengths like Harmony and Consistency.
- ISTJ – The Inspector
- Gallup Strengths: Responsibility, Discipline, Deliberative, Analytical, Consistency
- Rationale: ISTJs are detail-oriented, reliable, and value order and tradition. They are analytical in nature and often take their commitments very seriously, mirroring the Gallup strengths of Responsibility and Discipline.
- INFJ – The Counselor
- Gallup Strengths: Empathy, Relator, Strategic, Individualization, Connectedness
- Rationale: INFJs tend to form deep connections and possess a vision for the future. Their intuitive understanding of others can be reflected in strengths like Empathy and Individualization.
- INTJ – The Mastermind
- Gallup Strengths: Strategic, Deliberative, Analytical, Ideation, Focus
- Rationale: With a knack for planning and a love for big ideas, INTJs are often strategic thinkers. Their inclination to think deeply before acting mirrors the Deliberative strength.
- ISTP – The Craftsman
- Gallup Strengths: Adaptability, Analytical, Arranger, Restorative, Self-Assurance
- Rationale: ISTPs are practical problem-solvers, often confident in their abilities and can easily adapt to changing circumstances, aligning with Adaptability and Restorative.
- ISFP – The Composer
- Gallup Strengths: Adaptability, Empathy, Relator, Developer, Individualization
- Rationale: With a strong preference for personal values and a focus on the present, ISFPs can easily resonate with others and thrive in harmonious settings.
- INFP – The Healer
- Gallup Strengths: Empathy, Individualization, Adaptability, Connectedness, Developer
- Rationale: INFPs seek deep, meaningful connections and often sense the emotions and needs of others, resonating with strengths like Empathy and Connectedness.
- INTP – The Architect
- Gallup Strengths: Ideation, Analytical, Strategic, Learner, Input
- Rationale: INTPs love exploring new ideas and are logical thinkers. Their innate curiosity and analytical mindset echo strengths like Ideation and Analytical.
- ESTP – The Dynamo
- Gallup Strengths: Activator, Competition, Self-Assurance, Adaptability, Woo
- Rationale: Action-oriented and often thriving on challenges, ESTPs have a confidence that aligns with Self-Assurance, and their charisma can mirror the Woo strength.
- ESFP – The Performer
- Gallup Strengths: Positivity, Woo, Communication, Activator, Adaptability
- Rationale: ESFPs are enthusiastic, outgoing, and often the life of the party. Their natural communication skills and positive demeanor align with Positivity and Communication.
- ENFP – The Champion
- Gallup Strengths: Communication, Positivity, Woo, Adaptability, Ideation
- Rationale: ENFPs are enthusiastic and imaginative, often able to inspire others with their positivity and innovative ideas.
- ENTP – The Visionary
- Gallup Strengths: Ideation, Strategic, Command, Activator, Competition
- Rationale: ENTPs are enterprising and love exploring new possibilities. Their confidence and strategic mindset are reflected in strengths like Command and Strategic.
- ESTJ – The Supervisor
- Gallup Strengths: Command, Responsibility, Discipline, Achiever, Focus
- Rationale: ESTJs are often assertive leaders who value order and efficiency, resonating with strengths like Command and Discipline.
- ESFJ – The Provider
- Gallup Strengths: Harmony, Responsibility, Communication, Woo, Relator
- Rationale: With a focus on caring for others and ensuring harmony, ESFJs often excel in roles that require clear communication and fostering relationships.
- ENFJ – The Teacher
- Gallup Strengths: Communication, Developer, Empathy, Positivity, Relator
- Rationale: ENFJs are natural mentors, often able to uplift and guide others with their empathy and communicative skills.
- ENTJ – The Commander
- Gallup Strengths: Command, Strategic, Achiever, Self-Assurance, Competition
- Rationale: ENTJs are decisive leaders with a strategic vision. Their confidence and drive to achieve goals align with strengths like Command and Achiever.
While tempting, it’s critical not to oversimplify or rigidly map the two models. They are rooted in different theories and methodologies. An individual could be an INTJ in MBTI and have “Empathy” as a top strength in Gallup, challenging typical mappings. Hence, while general correlations can offer insights, they should be used as guiding rather than definitive markers.
Myers-Briggs and Gallup Strengths both provide frameworks for understanding individual and team dynamics. When used in tandem, they can offer a richer, more holistic understanding of personality and potential. However, the key is to appreciate their distinct contributions without forcing an overly rigid mapping between the two.