By Jamie Shafer
When we think of team building in a professional environment, our minds might be drawn to retreat activities that build trust or workshop sessions on organizational mission. But according to Allison Rhea, there can be so much value in learning about the individual personalities of the people who are working or volunteering on teams in an organization.
“In college, I was really interested in [the study of] personality. I even minored in psychology because I thought it would be about that sort of thing, but it really wasn’t,” she remembers with a laugh. As she pursued her master’s in education, Allison continued to learn more about her own unique design. “I realized that I really love inspiring and encouraging people,” she shares.
When Allison met her husband, Joseph, she found that they both had an interest in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®). This inventory, developed by the team of Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, explores the unique facets of an individual’s personality and assigns one of 16 personality types.
“For Joseph, the MBTI was something that God used to help him value the way he was created. He had been a part of campus ministries, which can sometimes be geared for extroverted personalities. As an introvert, he wondered how God might be able to use him effectively in ministry. Through this, he was able to see how he could serve the kingdom.”
To learn more about how she might help others recognize their own God-given design and the distinctive design of others, Allison went to work for Avalaunch Consulting in Birmingham, Alabama. She also attained her certification as a Myers-Briggs consultant.
With a move to Indianapolis came the launch of her business, Known Consulting. Now Allison is using her education and life experience to equip and encourage others. On her website (knownconsulting.com) she lets prospective clients know that she wants to help them recognize that they are unique expressions of the image of God, no matter how they might feel when they compare themselves to others.
“For example, I think that in Christian circles especially, we can sometimes undervalue the introvert. In things like outreach or hospitality, sometimes the extrovert’s gifts get valued more,” says Allison.
Embracing Unique Designs
Allison helps every person who works with Known Consulting apply what they learn about themselves to their careers, their relationships, and their everyday lives. Conversations with her clients center on personal insight, career clarity, areas for growth, and accountability. Using the MBTI also gives Allison a framework to talk about communication styles, how a person might deal with conflict, and what factors influence his or her decision-making.
“One gal I worked with struggled with feeling inadequate in terms of intelligence,” shares Allison. “She felt that she couldn’t think deeply enough. She is a senser, so we talked about how her learning style is different. She is better wired to learn by doing than through theoretical concepts in books.”
Allison says that others who think their personalities are too harsh for ministry can learn how to temper their approach with grace and love.
Allison has had the opportunity to work with campus outreach teams going overseas. “I was able to talk them through their personality types and how to work with each other on the team. Team dynamic is everything when you’re overseas.”
While her work primarily focuses on helping individuals, couples, and professional teams, she shares that she is excited about where God might lead her in the future. “I would love to see more things grow out of this. Recently I’ve been even more passionate about helping the church through team development,” she shares.
Allison’s passion is to help everyone recognize the strength and beauty of diversity. “I love to open others’ eyes to the idea that God has made us all different, and that is good. We all bring something to the table that is valuable. Different is good.”
Jamie Shafer is a communications strategist for Fishhook Communications in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.