Type A and Type B Personalities, Meet Type T


To the well-known Type A and Type B personality types, we may need to add a Type T (for technologist).


In my just-published interview with Robert Austin, one of three authors of "The Adventures of an IT Leader" (Harvard Business Press), he provided more fodder for the idea that there's a classic IT personality type -- and such types may not mix well with their business colleagues. He said:

The classic scenario is something goes wrong, and the reflex of the person in the technical department is to go and fix it before they come back and tell a business manager anything more about it. They want to come back with good news. The business guy is upset and doesn't know what they are talking about, and in the worst cases, the two sides go into their opposite corners and break down at exactly the worst time.


Technology types prefer to solve problems with other techies and thus may resist discussing issues with colleagues in other areas of the business. Said Austin:

The classic problem for a technical person is that, because you do feel expert in technical areas, in the moments that you should be going and being consultative with the CEO, your reflex is to go and hang with your team instead and help them solve the problem.

I wrote about this idea earlier this week, ciitng a CIO.com article featuring a consultant who says 60 percent of IT personnel to whom she's given the Myers-Briggs personality assessment are Introverted Sensing Thinking and Judging (ISTJ) personality types, characterized by their reliance on facts rather than intuition and their inability to see nuances. ISTJs also have difficulty accepting input from others.


Some CIOs and other technology managers think they need to be master of all in their domain, Austin told me in our interview. Though this was always a stretch, it's just not possible today, given the rapid pace of change in technology The answer, said Austin, is to assemble a crack technology team and make sure the team's talents are employed in optimal ways. That means collaborating more, with both technology folks and business folks.