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Despite the growing trend of more progressive values in the workplace, it’s not uncommon for even the most forward-thinking office to have some unconscious baggage lingering near the watercooler.  Most executives will not readily admit it, but communication failures often run rampant.

For all leaders, especially women, it is increasingly important to understand how others perceive one’s behavior. Self-awareness lays the foundation for clear communication and more productive work relationships.

There are tools that can help when psychological hurdles posed by gender or other stereotypes impact one’s performance or self-perception in the workplace. For instance, psychometric instruments like the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument assessment can help employees across all levels develop self-awareness, identify psychological blind spots and create strategies to overcome stressful situations by taking control of one’s personality.

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or #MBTI, communication preferences are often dictated by one’s personality type. Individuals who take the MBTI fall into one of 16 different personality types based upon their preferences for Introversion vs. Extraversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving.

It has been observed that women with an MBTI preference for Thinking (vs. Feeling) are more likely to be called “aggressive.” As a preference for Thinking is more common at the C-level, this might create challenges for female executives, who may face more negative reactions to behaviors typical for their type than their male counterparts. However, these barriers can also be self-imposed, the result of perceived attitudes or judgments that may or may not be there.

Regardless of whether obstacles are pronounced or projected, they are difficult to overcome and result in displaced energy better suited for tackling tough boardroom questions, rather than questioning one’s effectiveness as a leader.

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