Is the classical accounting personality required for success?

You don't have to be a stereotypical accountant like Angela (from The Office) to be successful!

I just read an interesting research article about personality types that succeed in accounting. The article by Bealing, Baker, and Russo researches the Myers-Briggs personality types of graduating accounting students and compares them to the personality type of other graduating business students. The overall Myers-Briggs personality type for accounting students was ESTJ.

For those of you unfamiliar with Myers-Briggs personality type, it measures the perception of individuals and classifies them into one of sixteen different personality types based on four different characteristics (Side note: I highly recommend everyone takes this test, its jaw-dropping to see its description of your personality and definitely helps you become more self-aware. I also think it is crucial for successful teamwork because it helps me understand how others are approaching the same problem but getting such different results.) An ESTJ means that the individual is extroverted (outgoing), sensing (paying attention to information that you collect through your five senses), thinking (making objective decisions), and judging (prefer a structured life style).

You might be asking why I am I telling you this. Am I trying to say that if you are not an ESTJ, you will not be successful in the Texas MPA program? DEFINITELY NOT!

My purpose is to tell people, that you do NOT have to be the classical accounting personality to be successful in this program. From my perspective, the program seems to have a very diverse group of personality types.  After working in various groups  and talking to many students, it seems like most of the Myers-Briggs personality types are represented in the program.

The only thing I have noticed is, the majority of McCombs and MPA classes I have seem to be taught in a way where people with the ESTJ personality succeed, because they are taught in a “sensing” manner. What I mean is professors present the facts. The “sensing” personality trait allows people to collect the facts and see the bigger picture with them.

I am not an ESTJ, I am an ENTJ. Doesn’t seem like a big difference, right? It’s interesting, because an article by Paul and Barbara Tieger says that the difference between sensing and intuitive is the biggest difference between people’s personalities as it affects their worldview. It helps me take notice that the classes are mostly taught in a sensing way. I initially had trouble because “intuitive” people like seeing the big picture and then collecting the facts, and making associations with each piece of information in order to truly digest it. I felt sort of discriminated in the program, but then I had a realization. I think learning in a “sensing” environment has improved my intuition and learning ability.

I have learned that I am able to sit down with all the facts presented to me in class, find the big picture of all the information, and then work back down. I have been able to expand my thinking process and my ability to understand other’s learning processes. This teaching process is also better for the majority of students because only 35% of business students are intuitive. Teaching in a “sensing” manner appeals to the majority, and allows intuits like me to grow our thinking process. It trains us for the environments we are going to work in. I definitely thank Texas MPA for the ability to not only see the big picture, but see how little pieces fit into the big picture.

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