Hello Everyone! 

As the end of 2008 draws near, we wanted to share one last thought on the presidential campaign, a type exercise that you might find useful, and a look at Reversal Theory - a compelling theory about motivation and emotion.  Aside from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Qualifying Workshops scheduled in November and December, OKA has a great leadership block running December 1-4. Each day in this four-day block offers a new tool or new approach to teaching or leveraging leaders.  Each class is independent of the others, yet they augment each other quite nicely. Classes include:  Using Type in Coaching, Using Type with Managers and Leaders, Reversal Theory, and the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI).  You can read more about or register at http://www.typetalk.com/oka-leadership-track.htm.  

OKA's popular Type Trainer's Skillshop will close our 2008 class schedule on December 15-17.  This tactical, experiential train-the-trainer workshop has been just the step that so many folks have needed gain the confidence they need to transform their group workshop into sharp, high impact events. Learn more about the Type Trainer's Skillshop at http://www.typetalk.com/training-type-trainer-skillshop.htm
 

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Election08
Wow, What a Race: Final Reflections on Type and Election 2008
By Hile Rutledge, INFP and Chief Executive Officer, OKA 
 
Hile Rutledge
Here in the final week of the race for President, let's step away from policy debates and character insults, and look at this historic contest one last time before we actually vote, through a type lens.
 
It is striking how so many of the criticisms being leveled at each candidate are rooted in strengths they have.  In other words, so many of the liabilities (or what are offered as such) are simply type preferences being disrespected or misunderstood. As someone who has made his career using type and other tools to build self-awareness and improving the effectiveness of communication, teams and organizations, I want to take every opportunity I can to reframe positively my perceptions of others - assuming good intentions when I can - and to see even troubling, problematic behavior as a strength that has merely been misapplied, misunderstood or taken to an extreme.
 
To this end, let's see what kind of lessons might be offered up by John McCain and Barack Obama.
  
John McCain, Warrior fighter pilot turned quick-draw political maverick: ESTP
 
Throughout his career-and especially in this campaign-John McCain has been quick to respond, to react, and to change. When the financial crisis hit in September, McCain was quick on the draw with comments and plans in response to the situation as it changed from day to day-even hour to hour.  While this reactiveness and flexibility-hallmarks of ESTP-are frequently praised, this behavior also has earned McCain the reputation of being erratic and someone more prone to engaging in tactics, not strategy.
 
McCain seems (and has always seemed to me to be) an open, talkative, expressive man energized by the groups he is with. He thrives in a town hall event setting, engaging directly with voters.  It was McCain who invited/challenged Obama to a long series of town hall meetings throughout the fall as a way of interacting with the issues and each other. This likely preference for Extraversion (and ESTP more broadly), however, also brings with it a tendency to speak unfiltered thoughts and feelings that reflection might have withheld. Admitting to a reporter in this election cycle that he did not know a lot about the economy, saying on the morning of what would prove to be an economic calamity that the fundamentals of the US economy were strong, and in the debates, referring to Obama as "That one" - these were all statements that flowed from the moment relatively unfiltered, yet my guess is that, if he had his preference, McCain would likely retract these "off the cuff" thoughts.  It feels like we lament that our leaders don't often enough give us their unvarnished, "unspun" thoughts, but then when they do-there is a price to pay. This is the Extravert's dilemma.
 
McCain also has a reputation, well highlighted in this contest, of being a bit of a rebel, a maverick who will speak truth to power and go his own way even in opposition to his own leadership and political party. It is this maverick, "go against the grain" approach (again, very much in keeping with ESTP), that has brought McCain much of his distinction and power, but it is this same set of qualities that lead some people to not trust his motives and loyalties. If you are part of the establishment against which he is pushing, it's easy to see why someone might see the maverick as an inconsistent flag-bearer.
 
Barack Obama, The community organizer turned visionary agent of change: INFP
 
Barack Obama has earned a reputation over the last 18 months as being rather contained and reserved-a calm hand on the rudder.  His internal campaign motto is "No drama Obama".  These qualities reflect a reserve and containment that have served him well-especially during this recent economic meltdown. This same calm, unflappable manner, however, has also earned Obama criticism for being passionless and aloof. In a memoir, Obama shares an emotional recounting of a personal moment of crisis and awakening when he fell to his knees and wept. This is an emotional display that we in the outside world don't get to see and from someone so generally calm and reserved can only imagine. One commentator quipped that Obama acts as though he understands emotions far more than he feels them-this is a statement leveled against many Introverts.
 
From his first job as a community builder and organizer to his presidential campaign, Obama has been driven by values around empowering people, fostering harmony, and finding common ground.  He came onto the national stage in 2004 with a speech denouncing our tendency of seeing blue states and red states; instead urging us to be the United States. He reminded us of our gun-owning, church-going friends in the blue states and the gay and lesbian friends and family we have in the red states to emphasize our common bonds-the bridges that connect us rather than emphasize the issues that tear us apart. This tendency to harmonize and idealize, typical of INFPs, while inspirational to some, creates skepticism in others and a concern that an embrace of harmony reflects an unwillingness or inability to get tough and combative politically.
 
Barack Obama has shown a special skill for writing, for crafting artful and at times inspirational speeches (and books).  While a polished and effective speaker, it is the quality of his pre-written messages (IN specifically and INFP more generally) with which he is so often associated. A criticism consistently leveled against Obama is that he depends too much on pre-written addresses (tele-prompters are used even in short rallies and campaign stops) and not enough on more unscripted addresses and events. The desire to have messaging known, controlled, and even rehearsed is a common introverted behavior, but one that leads many to question the connection and even authenticity of the speaker.
 
Reframing the Debate through Type
 
So, is John McCain quick to react or is he erratic?  Is he a maverick or just contrary?  Is Barack Obama calm and cool-headed, or is he distant and aloof?  Is he an idealist or a visionary?  Type suggests that the answer to all these questions is "yes." 
 
Type shows us clearly that every benefit comes with a liability, but the flip-side of this reality is that nearly every weakness or troublesome behavior is also rooted in a strength that has been misapplied, overdone, or misunderstood. This means that type is a great vehicle to help us both correct our ineffective behavior and to help us reframe the perceptions and judgments we have and make of others. This presidential race is going to be over in a week, but the work to help clients, leaders, and teams understand how to use type to improve their performance and to reframe positively those around them goes on. In the midst of what has been a contentious and at times bitter race, it has helped me to reflect on this silver lining.
 
Good luck to both John McCain and Barack Obama, and don't forget to vote!
MBTI Exercise and Handout:  
Understanding Strengths and Weaknesses 
 
OKA is frequently asked for new support tools to help support MBTI learning for client groups.  In this newsletter, we offer a handout and exercise related to the Strengths and Weaknesses theme introduced in the essay above. These are free; we require only that you include the OKA copyright line on any copies or excerpts.  
Reversing Forward A Different Kind of State: Reversal Theory  
 
For the last several years, OKA has been using Reversal Theory, a fascinating theory of motivation and emotion that is extremely practical and actionable. Unlike many theories and approaches that really require users to know the types, styles, or instrument results of others before you can fully use the theory or tool with them, Reversal Theory offers a brand new framework for understanding motives and behavior, that allows for immediate application without any assessment or debrief.  It has become a framework that we constantly use "behind the curtain" with clients to manage ourselves and influence the situation, and with increasing frequency, it is a tool and approach we directly teach leaders and teams as well.
 
OKA's practical approach to Reversal Theory was recently published in Reversing Forward: A Practical Guide to Reversal Theory. This book was written as an introduction to the theory, and as an inexpensive field guide to promote its use toward self-management and team and leadership development.  Jenny Tucker and I wrote this book, and we're pleased with how it came out.  If you want to access some free materials about the theory (including an article about using it with technology teams), visit http://www.typetalk.com/reversal-theory.php.    
 
We are working hard to see that Reversal Theory is a model and approach that is around and applied for some time. Check it out - we hope you like it.  Remember, part of the leadership block of classes OKA is offering in December is a one-day Reversal Theory introduction (December 3).  Learn more about this class at http://www.typetalk.com/training-reversal-theory.htm.
 

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