MBTI – The Heart of Emotional Intelligence EQ-i

MBTI – At the Heart of Emotional Intelligence (EQi)

Applicable to EQ-i 2.0

© Steve Whiteford 2007


A little history-

Although I was very familiar with Myers-Briggs@ from several explorations in my years of executive development and career transition work, I received EQi certification first. Like thousands of others, I was inspired by the books of Daniel Goleman, ecstatic that scientific measurement had substantiated work I had been doing for years. “Soft Skills” mattered and impacted the bottom line!

 I already loved working with assessments and had clearly experienced the validity they added to reported perception, performance review and interpersonal feedback. When I researched existing Emotional Intelligence instruments, BarOn Levy’s EQi received the lion share, word-of-mouth confirmation as the clearest and easiest to work with in one-on-one feedback and coaching. The EQ360 had not yet been released.  I was thrilled to begin working with the EQi and to discover how well it blended with 360 feedback and other assessments. The instrument was clear, engaged clients in self-interpretation of the scale/sub-scale patterns, and was supported with significant interpretation feedback text (plus validation). The EQi also proved a significant tool in leadership development, hiring, relationship development, culture refinement, etc. Then the EQ360 was  released and the conversation expanded significantly, encompassing team and organizational effectiveness.

A few years after my EQi certification, I took a job with a university continuing education department which afforded me the opportunity to achieve certification in both the EQ360 and MBTI, and to promote both to the organization’s clients. A workshop based on the EQi was a huge hit. However I ran into opposition launching the MBTI program. It was considered “old-hat,” “who cares?” I was shocked because I knew how extensively it was used and valued in individual coaching and therapy as well as massive organizations including the U.S. Military. I reached out to a local EQi expert, one of the founding contributors, and was stunned when he also suggested MBTI was old and dead in contrast to EQ. I couldn’t believe the either/or thinking and wondered if it were a misguided marketing tactic.

Despite the resistance, I knew there were progressive, intelligent consultants and psychologists out there effectively combining the two instruments. Currently, combining EQi and MBTI seems to be a smart new direction that is quickly building – for good reason.

The point –

Like many assessments, the EQi has some minor challenges. It presents a particular bias in the wording of a few of the questions, and in the values beneath assumptions of what indicates emotional intelligence in a few of the scales. And, in spite of thorough preparation and skillful presentation by a consultant, receiving the results can feel like a cold shower on a January morning in Canada. Uncomfortable – After all it’s a psychological instrument, an evaluation against a norm of Emotional Intelligence. The very term, Emotional Intelligence, although resonant and salient to many, is intimidating and alienating to many more. How terrible and psychologically confronting will it be if I fall short on this assessment? Will I be fired, emotionally outed, committed to an institution? Hence the new term Social Intelligence.  It’s more accessible.

But – the Emotional Quotient Inventory certainly stands on its own – proof positive, and provides a very effective snapshot of social savvy; map of potential growth areas.

My personal experience reviewing EQi through EQ360 certification, while at the same time exploring Myers Briggs through MBTI certification, showed me that providing the context of personal preference to the EQi/EQ360 results converts that potentially cold shower to a comfortably hot bath. 


Here’s how:

The EQi and EQ360 measure traits / behaviors in relation to the following scales (bold) and subscales:

Inter-personal: empathy, social responsibility, interpersonal relationships

Intra-personal: self-regard, emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, independence, self-actualization

Adaptability: reality testing, flexibility, problem solving Stress Management: stress tolerance, impulse control General Mood:  happiness, optimism

So, within context – if a client (real case) were to receive a report showing lower scores in the areas of empathy, interpersonal relationship, self-actualization, and problem solving, with higher scores in assertiveness and independence – that would be very interesting information and would immediately describe areas for learning and action.  It might also be perceived as a highly negative report and be interpreted as evidence of some inherent lack of EQ.


When we add the client’s type – in this case ENTJ, we gain significant immediate insight, and perspective about the report. We might want to say “of course.” It’s possible to look at the report and based on the scores and patterns of the subscales guess this client is an ENTJ. But the client may experience some relief in knowing the scores are not surprising in relation to type, which does not provide excuse, but makes sense of natural inclinations. For this sample client, the manner in which the added perspective of MBTI informed the EQi scores strengthened the validation process and increased trust for the results of both instruments. When we progress to Type Dynamics, examining the play of cognitive functions specific to the client’s type (ENTJ = Te, Ni, Se, Fi), we get deeper insight into developmental opportunities.

For instance:

In the example above – the client was confused by the lower empathy score. He had a very strong awareness of others’ emotional states (Ni), but often chose not to act – embarrassed by his insight and respecting privacy (values of Fi), with a natural preference for fact based, work related (Te) communication. The added perspective of Type Dynamics made sense of the gap between awareness and action, thus easing and encouraging behavioral experimentation. The self-actualization score also had roots in Fi – very high value- based standards and expectations as the measure, applied to self.  Low problem solving was an aspect of Ni.

The EQ has a bias toward methodical problem solving. This individual was a great intuitive problem solver (Ni) who acted quickly (Se). The higher scores in assertiveness and independence, contrasted with lower interpersonal scores were also typical for ENTJ. Defining the developmental map through situational, context- based conversation strengthened the whole process. Much analysis, discussion and client validation resulted from addition connections of type and EQ results.

What about a client with very high scores in interpersonal relationship but lower scores in assertiveness, independence and self-actualization?

BarOn EQ-i Resource Report Content Subscale ratings:


 Could this be an ENFJ?  It was. Having that information deepened and quickened the client’s growth process.

Interpreting EQi traits through the lens of MBTI preferences puts the heart and depth of soul – the wholeness back into the assessment process.

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