Think about the crew of the USS Enterprise. There was one leader (Kirk), one skeptic (McCoy), one dreamer (Sulu), one logician (Spock), one jokester (Scotty) one den mother (Uhura) and one Russian (we’re still not sure what Chekov’s role was, but it was fun to hear him repeat “nuclear wessels” in Star Trek IV).
Can you imagine if there were two leaders? Would the ship have gone where no man has gone before? No. It would be stuck in neutral because there would have been two people trying to play the same role.
We bring this up today because when you’re building an advisory board, the types you stack it with can have a profound effect on how successful it is.
In an earlier post, we explored the qualities you should be looking for in a board member. But you should also be looking for complementary personality types, and avoid putting two of the same kind of people on the same board.
The 16 Personalities
By far the most popular personality test out there is the Myers-Briggs. It plots personalities as a combination of four sets of competing traits, giving each a letter:
Extroverted (E) vs. Introverted (I)
Outwardly focused (S) vs. Introspective (N)
Brain-led (T) vs. Heart-led (F)
Quick to judge (J) vs. Open to probing (P)
After a series of tests and questionnaires, everyone who takes the Myers-Briggs is given a four-letter code. And some codes work perfectly together while others are like oil and water.
For example, someone who’s an ENFP (a big personality who’s not afraid to speak his or her mind) would probably very much benefit an ISFP (a person who notices a lot and has a lot to say but might not feel comfortable saying it).
At the same time, that ENFP would probably clash with an ESFJ, the kind of person who has to be the centre of attention. But that ESFJ would make the perfect board chairperson if the rest of the board was made up of I’s and N’s.
Properly administering the Myers-Briggs takes a long time and costs a fair amount of money. And who has either? Certainly not you when you’re trying to put an advisory board together. But that’s not to say you can’t send people a quick quiz to complete, like this one from 16personalities.com.
It won’t be an exact science, and of course there’s always a chance that people will misrepresent themselves in their answers to the questions. But when you’re trying to put a winning combination together ⎯ whether it’s a board or an interstellar flight crew, more information doesn’t hurt.
At the very least, formal questionnaires aside, you know your customers and we recommend you put some thinking into the personality mix you are creating and the outcomes you want.