Perhaps one of the worst examples of academia/consulting gone wild is the notion of “personality typing.” The concept is simple: have employees take a twenty-odd question test, run it through some buzzword voodoo, and you can neatly compartmentalize everyone in your organization into their own little box. The gurus behind the various schemes will then tell you that an ABCD won’t play well with an EFGH, that an LMNOP is a born leader, and you should never have a PG13 and XXX in the same room.

This type of management hooey is the PhD version of epithets like “Oh, he’s <insert ethnicity here>, and you know they can’t drive!” Figuring out an individual’s capabilities, strengths and weaknesses is hard work, and while the idea that a multiple choice questionnaire can do the heavy lifting for you may seem like a godsend, it’s about as effective as the latest “as seen on TV” diet pill. As a leader, your job is to assess and manage each of the unique individuals that work for you, and put the structures in place to maximize their chances of success. If you feel that job is too difficult then you might be the wrong personality type for the job.



  1. Dear all,

    I highly appreciate that at last I would not be the only person to be of this opinion. When you think that the major part of the French HR plethora would proudly indicate their validity by their “gold wings” MBTI certification adapted to an US audience with no adaptation to the French market (but well sold). The result: the upper part of the time recruitment is miss matched and those recruited not trained to meet expected targets.

    For the (HR) management part, to put candidates in to boxes and thereby limit their opportunity to evolve and build additional cultural barriers could not be considered as management and certainly not as Human Capital Management.

    Martin Palmgren

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