Friday, August 24, 2012

TIBBS Summer Series Session 3| How does my personality type determine my leadership style?


Author: Rebecca Bauer

Part 1| MBTI Self-Assessment and interpretation

Speaker: O. Ray Angle, Director of University Career Services, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Biography: Ray Angle has more than 20 years of experience in college career services and teaching. Ray was appointed Director of University Career Services in March 2010. He has served similar roles at Cal State East Bay, Webster University, Millikin University, Saint Louis University and Bradley University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Education from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and a master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration from the University of Central Missouri. He has been actively involved in several professional associations including the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), and has served as President of the Midwest Association of Colleges and Employers (Midwest ACE). He has been invited to speak domestically and internationally on a variety of topics including career and professional skill development and leadership.

Session Synopsis: In this session of the TIBBS Summer Series: Essential Skills for Success in Industry, Ray Angle emphasized the importance of understanding personality types when interacting with and leading a team. Using the Meyer’s Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Instrument, Ray explained how to perform a personality self-assessment. More information about the MBTI self-assessment and an example of the testing criteria can be found here.

According to the MBTI theory, personality type can be broken into four preference areas. These preference areas exist as a spectrum, and each person will have a tendency to associate with one side of the spectrum. The four preference areas are summarized below:

1.       What is your energy source?
a.       Extroversion: Energy is attained from outer world (i.e., other people, activities, things, etc.)
b.      Introversion: Energy is attained from the inner world (i.e., thoughts, ideas, imagination, etc.)
2.       How do you perceive and understand?
a.       Sensing: Understanding is obtained by present or past sensory information and is reality-based.
b.      Intuition: Understanding is based on insight, learned patterns and relationships, and may be more conceptual (i.e., “big picture).
3.       How do you make decisions?
a.       Thinking: Decisions are made in an objective and logical manner.  
b.      Feeling: Decisions are made from the heart and are subjective.
4.       How do you organize your life and interact with the outside world?
a.       Judgment: Actions are planned.
b.      Perception: Actions are more spontaneous and flexible.

Based on your preferences, a MBTI personality type is assigned and can provide insight on the ways you think and act within a team setting. Understanding MBTI personality types can help leaders learn how to communicate with their team most effectively. By recognizing that others may think and act differently based on their personality type, a leader can harness an individual’s strengths and skills for the betterment the team.

Part 3| Leading a team

Speaker: Robert L. St. Claire, III, Ph.D., Vice President, Chemistry, Qualyst Transporter Solutions, LLC

Biography: Dr. St. Claire has 26 years of experience in the fields of bio-analytical and analytical chemistry within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. As a senior technical leader at Glaxo, Glaxo Wellcome, Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences, and most recently, Qualyst Transporter Solutions, his primary focus has been in novel technology development, methods development, and teaching. His most notable accomplishments have been in the development of technology supporting analysis of intracellular metabolism. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in biochemistry and a doctorate in chemistry.

How does personality type affect team leadership?

Based on his many years of experience both as a team member and a team leader, Dr. St. Claire emphasized that personality type plays a key role in determining both leadership style and team success. Though a team represents a diversity of personality types and skills, the goal of the team is to accomplish a single objective.  Thus, the challenge for a team leader is to recognize and channel the diverse skills of the team to achieve a common goal.  Dr. St. Claire discussed how to lead a team, with a focus on teams generally no larger than 30 – 60 individuals in size. He noted that size is a very important determinant of the demands and expectations of a team leader. Not every leadership style is properly matched to the size and purpose of the team to be lead.

How can I be an effective team leader?

Dr. St. Claire’s advice for leading a team is to blend the practical and the ideal by combining managerial and leadership skills. At times, a team leader may need to act as a manager to establish organization, set rules, and address problems with specific team members. Other times, the team leader may need to inspire new ideas and make risky decisions. A good team leader must maintain focus in such a way that individual initiative and creativity are encouraged and rewarded. The key is to recognize and value the individual personalities and employ these diverse skills for the benefit of the team.

Dr. St. Claire also advises that there should be minimal separation and distinction between the team leader and the team. For example, a team leader may choose to maintain space in the lab and work directly with his/her team. This leadership style is often challenged by “higher ups” in management who may push you to do only management. Thus, a team leader may feel that this leadership style engenders feelings of loneliness, as the leader may not feel like a part of either group (the “front line workers” or “more traditional management”).

What is the reward of good leadership?

The reward of good leadership is an effective team when things get rough. The team leader must learn to manage fear and to absorb some of the fear and punishment to keep the team going.  If the team leader minimizes separation from the team and puts the team and its objectives above his or her own personal interests, the members of the team will be more likely to trust the leader in tough times and achieve great things even in the face of adversity

What are the consequences of poor leadership?

With poor team leadership, the lower rankings may feel all the misery trickling down and falling on them. The team will often fail to achieve its goal, and team morale will be low.

How can students and postdocs “learn” leadership skills?

Graduate students and postdocs often have a poor understanding about leading a team because at this point in their training it is still all about their personal objectives. Many PhDs are thrust into a team leader position and may fail due to lack of leadership skills. Though some skills are inherent, most are formed by being part of an effective team and learning from the team leader. It is never too late to start working on your leadership skills, so take every opportunity to participate in team settings and practice leading a team.

About the author: Rebecca Bauer is a doctoral student in the Curriculum in Toxicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and works in the laboratory of Dr. Ilona Jaspers. Her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which airway diseases and air pollution alter lung immunology.

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