Does your personality type influence your career choice?

By Denise Carter MSc Editorial Board Member and Director of Dcision Consult Sarl
I think it does.  I chose to enter a profession, information, because it fundamentally appealed to my preference for the orderly and organised, my natural curiosity, and my desire to do something helpful. I had also explored being a physiotherapist or speech therapist but even at 15 fortunately for any prospective patients I was self-aware enough to recognise that patience is not one of my virtues.  In my career I have participated in several personality testing workshops, and the results, for examples the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® – ISFJ (Introversion; Sensing; Feeling; Judging), and Success Insights® – predominately  “Blue” (questioning, analytical) and “Green” (caring, sharing) have confirmed that my personality is well suited to the research and information-sharing  aspects of my information roles.
Being an introvert in an extrovert world
However when I view those traits in the wider context of the commercial organisations I have I have worked in, I have in many ways been a fish out of water. In order to succeed in environments where other personality traits are more dominant and can be perceived as having more value, has meant being more aware of not only how I think and react to different situations but more importantly become hyper-aware of how others may think and behave very differently to the same situation.
The view from the other side
Working with, and reporting to, people who naturally respond differently on fundamental issues is something we all need to recognise. One personal example which certainly had an impact for me was being asked at a team-building course to list what would count as a reward. Top of my list was recognition; top of almost everyone else’s was money.  I have to admit money had never even entered my head.  For me it was a light-bulb moment of recognising that the way I saw the world was fundamentally different to the people I was working with on a day-to-day basis, and in order to operate successfully in that world I needed to find a way to put see the world through their eyes when it came to key business actions and decisions. Since then I have learned to have my own reaction to events and situations and then take a few minutes to think through how likely it is others will have the same reaction, and if it is different what would their response be?  It’s not easy but it’s important so you are able not only to survive but also to thrive.
Do all information people think the same way?
If you’ve ever undergone a personality type testing as part of a group you can usually see how the types tend to cluster in teams. In my own experience doing this as part of a business intelligence function where we were all doing essentially similar roles the Success Insights®results were very common across all the group, with only a few outliers.  My guess (no empirical evidence available, and I’m going against my natural tendency for fact not theory) is that the majority of people in the information profession would share a high percentage of common personality traits.  Does that make it harder for information in organisations the visibility it needs? Are we more naturally cautious and not the competitive demanding individuals who always get heard and seen?
What’s the impact?
How we behave affects key business activities:
·      communication with our peers, customers and managers
·      selling the information “brand” within the organisation
·      making decisions
·      managing change
·      managing conflict
I believe that information professionals need to understand better the personal attributes that the information role, particularly in business, now demands and make sure that we develop those aspects of our personal profiles.  We all have the necessary attributes, it just that sometimes they are well-hidden.
What personal attributes are most desired by information leaders for today’s business environment?
In the “2016 Business Information Survey – Demonstrating the Commercial Mind-set”, due to be published in the March issue of BIR,  it was interesting to see how highly information leaders rated certain personal attributes and skills – especially those concerning confidence and communication.  Survey participants responses on desirable skills were ranked, and results clearly showed that having these kinds of personal attributes are valued more highly than information management skills in delivering a first class service.
Your personality type may well influence your career choice but how you then develop your personal attributes and skills certainly will impact your career success.