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The consultants at ACT Partners for Results are long-standing and dedicated users of the MBTI® instrument, with a particular passion for the detailed practical insights that the MBTI Step II can bring.
ACT started using MBTI in the 1990s after gaining qualification in Step I. Having discovered the power of the tool as a catalyst for development, its consultants became interested in using the MBTI framework to explore personality in more detail and, in particular, to examine and explain how people of the same MBTI type or preference could sometimes demonstrate big differences in behaviour.
Working with OPP consultancy, ACT’s consultants became experts in both the Step I and Step II versions of the instrument. So convinced are they by Step II’s ability to prompt important and lasting moments of enlightenment for their clients that they now use it almost exclusively in all of their development interventions.
Marc Potvin, Managing Director of ACT, sees real value in the use of the Step II instrument in his consulting work: “The main attraction of Step II for us is that it confirms for people that even though the main 16 types provide valid, resonant and accurate descriptions of people, each individual is still a unique person,” he explains. “It allows us to show them how they can develop not just through their four-letter type, but also through how they express that type as an individual.”
The MBTI’s multi-layered approach, which leads people through a gradually expanding process of self-awareness, is seen as a big differentiator to ACT. Marc believes Step II has an edge over some more traditional trait-based instruments when it comes to development: “In our development interventions, what we really want to avoid is the idea of ‘more and less’ or ‘better and worse’. Step II has the unique benefit of genuinely appreciating difference in people, and working with that difference in a positive and constructive way to get the best out of everyone.” In this respect, it fits uniquely well with the ‘positive psychology’ approach that is informing so much coaching work today.”
When working with senior-level people, in particular, it’s important to generate buy-in to a development intervention with some data about performance and personality, so the ACT team often use Step II in conjunction with a 360-degree feedback instrument. Typically 360-degree feedback is solicited first which is then used for setting the agenda for coaching using the MBTI instrument. Marc reports that he always asks his clients to complete the Step II questionnaire, from which Step I reports can also be generated. After a group grounding in the basics of Step I, Marc then uses Step II in a targeted personal development or coaching programme, or as the foundation for a teambuilding activity with functional or cross-departmental groups or, occasionally, a senior management team.
Marc shares a specific example of such a process: “An ENTJ team leader was giving really mixed signals to his team, creating some management challenges. He would express his underlying preference for Intuition (N) when he gave out information, using a broad-brush, big-picture perspective. When he received information from his team, however, he asked for details. He would become frustrated when information was presented to him without what he saw as the necessary precision, apparently exhibiting typical S behaviour, the opposite of his supposed N preference on Step I. This seemed contradictory and unfair to his team, who could not understand why he continually seemed to critique their work when they completed delegated tasks.
“But for this team leader the behaviour was a natural outlet for what Step II revealed as a high score on the Concrete facet – a clear Out-Of-Preference Score that would not have been uncovered by using Step I on its own. Being able to articulate what was happening in this way enabled the team leader to achieve greater self-awareness and adapt his behaviour, and helped his team to understand the reasons for his actions and be readier to challenge or engage him on them. Such transparency makes a big difference to trust levels.”
ACT has used Step II extensively in high-level strategic contexts and Marc has used it to facilitate thinking in leaders around links between an organisation’s theoretical ‘mission statement’ or their stated company philosophy, and the business reality of its operational culture. This can bring significant contradictions and points of weaknesses to light.
ACT is convinced of the benefits of using the Step II instruments. As well as anecdotal examples of the instrument at work, its consultants have collected metrics about its efficacy. Client surveys indicate substantial and rapid improvements in employee engagement and management satisfaction during the year in which Step II interventions were introduced, and specific areas previously indicated in surveys as needing attention have been considered as markedly improved.
There is evidence of rapid acceleration of team progress after teambuilding sessions as well as the meeting of performance targets, and other feedback has indicated that Step II makes the benefits of learning already embedded from Step I much more tangible, providing vivid moments of awakening for individuals and teams. And perhaps the most telling evidence of success if that many of ACT’s clients ask how they too can become qualified to work with the MBTI Step II instrument.
Step II has the unique benefit of genuinely appreciating difference in people, and working with that difference in a positive and constructive way to get the best out of everyone.
Marc Potvin, Managing Director. ACT Management