Books on Leadership: First published in 1978, David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates writes a timeless book on personality type that will transform the way you perceive people and the way you lead them.
In this section, I will delve deeper into the contents of the book and also give a short book review.
What is ‘Please Understand Me’ About?
Please Understand Me is a study of Temperament Theory, an extension of the study of personality type first research and developed by Carl Jung. While most people in the world are aware of the sixteen types of the Myer Briggs Type Indicator, fewer people are aware of Keirsey’s work of dividing them into four.
In his study of ancient philosophers who also classified people into four categories, Keirsey found similarities in Carl Jung’s study and classified them accordingly to four main categories: Traditionalists, Artisans, Idealists and Conceptualizers.
The idea behind the book is that we are all made different, and we need to understand and appreciate this difference in the context of our work, our raising of our children, our leadership and management of others.
Guardians are people who believe and trust in the tried and tested. They are the ones who are committed to upholding traditional, best practices in an organization. Reliable, responsible and can be counted on to follow through, traditionalists often form the backbone of any organization.
Artisans are the light-hearted, casual, fun-loving individuals who live in the present. They take life as it comes, not seeing the need to plan ahead, and often seek out new experiences. Their adaptable nature allows them to thrive when there are extraordinary events, change or crisis.
Idealists are individuals who believe in the maximizing of potential of every individual. They are encouraging, sensitive and inspiring people who want to see positive change in the world. They often become leaders of causes and can inspire a huge following just by their convictions alone.
Rationals are the strategic thinkers among us. They desire excellence and value competence and ability in their work. They constantly strive for perfection, demanding nothing less than the best for themselves and the organizations they work for. They are adept at spotting flaws and existing systems and coming up with innovative solutions.
Keirsey then brings the context of these four personality types into three key topics:
- Romance and Mating
- Children and their Learning Styles
- Leading and Management
He also offers a basic temperament questionnaire for anyone who wants to find out their type.
Should You Read This Book?
Yes, you should. This can be one of the more valuable books on leadership. As a leader, you have to understand and appreciate differences in people in order to maximize their contributions to the team.
Most conflicts happen as a result of a clash of personality and using Keirsey’s theory; you are equipped to handle the conflict by speaking the language of the other party.
Keirsey also does not leave personality as it is. By bringing personality into the context of romance, learning styles and leadership, he will offer you a lot of practical advice on how to interact with another personality types more effectively.
As a leader myself, I found this study of personality to be life transforming. Ever since I started with the Myer Briggs Type Indicator and now Temperament Theory, I have learnt to bring out the best in others by leveraging on their personality’s strengths.
I strongly recommend Please Understand Me. You can buy the book here on Amazon.