Using Type to Navigate Change

Change Image

Organizations are constantly going through change to become successful, stay on top of the competition or to just merely survive. Fundamentally, change may affect how we work, who we work for, what goals we are trying to achieve, and in what direction we are heading. At the extremes, some employees find change stimulating and exciting and other employees want to stay in the past.

Even though leaders know there are significant differences between people, organizations tend to make and implement change as though everyone were the same. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) provides a logical structure for recognizing important patterns in human behavior. By using the principles of the MBTI, leaders can better communicate change and anticipate varying responses to times of transition.

Change unfolds on many different levels for people. For example, in the book Type and Change, Nancy Barger and Linda Kirby, the authors outline techniques to use when introducing change to a team. When introducing a change give…


Time “on the spot” to ask questions, discuss the issues and give suggestions.


Written information ahead of time so they can reflect.


Specific, realistic information about why changes are necessary and the steps in the process—or give them the resources to develop these.


A picture of how the change fits into the overall patterns—or ask them to develop such a picture.


A logical analysis of the reasons for the change, welcome their challenging questions.


Resources for assessing the effects on people and developing plan.


The plan and time frame and information about when plans will be reassessed and possibly revised—revision needs to be part of the plan.


A clear sense of what is decided upon and what is still open. Then encourage them to use their ingenuity to contribute to the unresolved areas.

Remember, effective leaders know the importance of reframing thinking of those they guide. This enables team members to see that significant changes are not only imperative but achievable. The challenge of being a leader of change is to understand the differences between people and know how to use their strengths to best implement change in successful ways.

If you are interested in learning more about type, Jan Hovrud is a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Step II practitioner and facilitator.