How Lawyers Can Use Personality Assessments To Improve Their Rainmaking Skills

By   Category Business Development, Coaching, Pitches, Resources, Sales

Takeaway: Many attorneys feel that they don’t have the right “type” of personality to be top rainmakers. We have coached hundreds of lawyers, of all personality types, and helped all types succeed. This article explains how you can use different personality assessments to improve your business development skills.

Who Makes the Best Rainmakers?

When it comes to business development in the legal industry, many attorneys feel that they don’t have the right “type” of personality to be top rainmakers. They feel that they must try to match the stereotype of being outgoing and social – equally comfortable speaking before a crowd or “working” a room full of strangers.

Truth be told, there is no one personality type that predicts a successful law-firm business developer. There are many differences among normal, healthy people.

The secret to success is to determine your own type – and then work on the business development activities that take advantage of your unique strengths.

Determining Your Personality Type

Personality type theory is based on people’s innate tendencies to use their minds in many different ways. These tendencies, over time, turn into patterns of behavior that can either advance or hinder your career.

To determine your type you can to take one or more of the many personality and/or behavioral assessments that have been designed for this purpose. In our experience, the best all-purpose personality assessment is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), based on the theory of personality type developed by famed psychologist Carl Jung.

Benefits of Knowing Your MBTI Type

There are many benefits and applications of the MBTI assessment. For business development purposes, this instrument allows you to better understand yourself and your strengths as you interact with others and the world around you.

In addition, an understanding of the MBTI helps you “read” the personality types of your clients and prospects – how they prefer to receive and process information and make decisions. This knowledge helps you structure your communications for the best result.

Overview of MBTI Dichotomies

There are no “right” or “wrong” results; each of the 16 types identifies normal and valuable human behaviors. The questionnaire-based MBTI instrument measures the ways people naturally prefer to:

  1. Direct and get energy (extraversion or introversion);
  2. Take in information (sensing or intuiting);
  3. Make decisions (thinking or feeling); and
  4. Organize their external world (judging or perceiving).

These are the high level preferences for people with each dichotomy.

Wants to talk it out INTROVERSION Decides based on logic FEELING
Wants to think it through SENSING Decides based on feelings and values JUDGING
Focuses on specifics INTUITION Organized, wants closure PERCEIVING
Focuses on the big picture Open-ended, likes options

In our experience, a successful business developer can be any “type.”

Lawyer MBTI Types, by Percentage

According to research by Larry Richard, of LawyerBrain, surveys of more than 3000 attorneys showed that just four types represent more than half of all lawyers:

1. ISTJ (17.8%)
2. ESTJ (10.3%)
3. INTJ (13.1%)
4. ENTP (9.7%)
These are the remaining types in ascending order:

5. INTP (9.4%)
6. ENTJ (9.0)
7. ENFP (5.2%)
8. ISFJ (4.2%)
9. INFP (3.9%)
10. ISTP (3.9%)
11. ESTP (3.3%)
12. ENFJ (2.9%)
13. ESFJ (2.7%)
14. INFJ (2.7%)
15. ISFP (1.4%)
16. ESFP (.5%)

Contrasting Two Common Lawyer Types

ISTJ Type: The characteristics of an ISTJ, for example, are: quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability; practical, matter-of-fact, realistic and responsible; decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions; take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – work, home, life; and value traditions and loyalty.

Doesn’t this sound like everyone’s image of a hard-working lawyer?

ENTP Type: However, another of these common types among lawyers is ENTP. The characteristics of this type are: quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert and outspoken; resourceful in solving new and challenging problems; adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically; good at reading other people; bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.

It is easy to see why there is no “one size fits all” business development plan and set of activities that would fit both of these personality types – much less all 16 MBTI types.

For the Whole Picture, Measure Values and Behavior Preferences

Measuring Values. Another useful tool is the Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values Assessment. The PIAV instrument measures the relative prominence of six basic categories of beliefs and values – theoretical, utilitarian, aesthetic, social, individualistic, and traditional. Each value is ranked as being strong, situational, or indifferent.

The beliefs and values measured by this instrument determine why you behave in a certain way. It is obvious that there is room for considerable variation among individuals who have been asked to accomplish the same task – develop business.

These are six values measured by the PIAV assessment:

Value Drive For
Theoretical Knowledge
Utilitarian/Economic Money and ROI
Aesthetic Form and Harmony
Social/Altruistic Helpfulness
Individualistic/Political Power/Control of One’s Destiny
Traditional/Regulatory Order

Measuring Behavior. To measure behavior, one of the best tools is called the DISC assessment. The DISC results display how a person behaves.

The DISC report measures four dimensions of normal behavior:

D Dominance Challenge/Problems How you respond to problems and challenges
I Influence Contacts/People How you persuade others
S Steadiness Consistency/Pace How you respond to the pace of the environment
C Compliance Constraints/Procedure s How you respond to rules and procedures set by others

Capitalizing On Your Strengths

Becoming a successful rainmaker requires many skills; chief among them is the ability to understand your own personality and communication preferences. With a clear understanding of yourself, you can better “read” others and communicate and interact with them in the way they prefer. This builds rapport and increases the chances of securing their business.

Lastly, as you can see now, there is no one “best” rainmaker type. Each personality type has its own strengths and challenges. Your goal is to develop a plan and set of activities that takes advantage your strengths and minimizes your challenges.

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