We were delighted to sit down with Maryanne DiMarzo, the current president of APTi (Association of Psychological Type International), to learn more about the association’s history, where it is now, and where Maryanne sees it heading in the future. Maryanne shares how her leadership role at APTi was woven in with aspects of her personal journey, and how this interconnection has led to her profound commitment to the mission of the organization.
Maryanne begins by describing her journey into type. She loved studying Jung, but observed that some type practitioners administered assessments poorly, and used them to pigeonhole people. She expresses her concern about practitioners still missing the point today, which can have an impact on hiring and firing decisions.
Maryanne felt from very early on that it was important to focus on preferences vs. labeling – and that assessments are meant to help people leverage their results for better human understanding. She explains that in current times, access to type and type products has become enormous (e.g., free online assessments), which can actually lead to a lack of quality.
Joining APTi was key in Maryanne’s journey of learning that there is so much more that can and should be gleaned from type assessments in order to help people. Over time, she has developed a deep commitment to the organization, not only as a leader, but also inasmuch as her experiences with APTi have helped her be a much better executive coach and team builder.
APTi is independent of publishers, and is both product-agnostic and dedicated to high quality. The association’s aim is to help people distinguish between the high quality type assessments and those which are potentially harmful due to un-sound methodology. In other words, if APTi sanctions a type product, that means that the product is based in really good type thinking.
Maryanne discusses the challenges that are present with APTi being product agnostic. She explains that leaving space for different products has invited some controversy. While some may feel that the the organization is furthering and extending the work of Isabel Briggs Myers throughout the world, while remaining inside of her values, others assert that it is straying or departing from her direct heritage (i.e., perceived competition).
Given the disagreement within APTi regarding product agnosticism, we wonder how Maryanne finds a balance while leading an organization in which diversity is a core value. She explains that, as a leader, diversity has, indeed, been a guide – and that she’s dug deep within herself in order to make decisions that will nurture the entire group. As such, she began her presidency by going back to research the history of APTi to understand how it has evolved. And then she set out to understand what is most important to the membership.
In her own private practice, Maryanne describes how she has seen new leaders come in with wonderful ideas, but who got “killed by the culture” because they didn’t understand it. It was important to her not to “make the culture wrong” at APTi – she listens to everyone and looks through different lenses in order to find a common path through the diversity.
Maryanne asserts that the values of APTi are of the utmost importance – and that these values needed to be codified in order to make sure that everyone can find a common framework for basing their organizational decisions.
When asked to characterize her approach to balancing the running of an organization with allowing for diversity, Maryanne offers three pointed questions that she needed to address:
- How to build common ground around what and why we need to change (e.g., legal and compliance issues)?
- What do we need to change to – what is the vision for the future of the organization and what is it going to be (since we can’t align people on what we were intended to be)?
- What does change mean to all of the stakeholders at APTi – the chapters, board, interest areas, the president – and how do we build common conversations and thinking in order to keep the organization whole through the change?
She finds that leaders tend to be good at one or another of those elements, but often make the mistake of not fostering all of them. The result can be that the resistance against change overcomes the will to change.
At its core, APTi is dedicated to providing an independent and high quality voice for psychological type. It is an “international membership organization open to any individual interested in personality type. APTi members come from a variety of backgrounds and professions including business and industry, organizational development, religion, education, psychotherapy and counseling.”
To learn more about APTi and Maryanne, you can listen to the full podcast here.
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