Profiling Partners: how to identify and develop your character traits

Profiling Partners: how to identify and develop your character traits

By Seven Suphi 

The last blog highlighted the need for Partners to change and provided clear areas where performance may be substantially improved. Since then, there have been fascinating and valuable conversations about Partners with Partners, their clients and business professionals. Their brilliant and varied perspectives shall be incorporated into this and subsequent blogs.

To substantially improve future Partner Performance we must first understand Partner Potential because it’s an essential backdrop to the most effective intervention.

Of the many ways of evaluating Potential, we are going to focus on character profile because it’s valuable and under utilised.

From the research shared by some of the top firms Partners character profile are consistent and highlight specific core strengths and weaknesses. We shall use Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) because it’s one of the more credible profiling tools and extensively used by firms.

One of the fundamentals of MBTI is that we are born with an innate preference (like our preference to writing with our right or left hand). This is not totally true because I have witnessed changes in preference after deep change work. However, being aware of the options is essential to effectively leveraging them.

Extrovert/Introvert (E/I)

The first is how you get your energy: by taking action, Extroverted, or by internally reflecting, Introverted. The former like to interact with others to solve problems together. The latter have an innate desire to be alone to think things through, needing an agenda and preparation time.

Extroverts may be seen to be “thoughtless” or “unprepared” and Introverts may be seen to be “slow” or “secretive”. It is highly unlikely that “E” types make it to Partner without being able to effectively exercise their “I” skills.

There is a mixture of E/I character types in firms. The importance of this is more about how Partners interact with others – for collaborative working that engages it’s essential to exercise their “E” preference, to ask questions.

Sensing/iNtuition (S/N)

How we take in information is important to how we see the world. There is a balance of these character types in firms. Indeed Partners tend to be the most ambidextrous of all executives (across industries) in this dimension.

Sensing, “S”, preference people use their five senses they focus on the facts and details, they have a practical view of the world, trusting their experience, they believe there is one answer, they tend to stick to subject, they carefully and thoroughly get to a conclusion. Those who are considered to be “institutional” Partners are more likely to be this preference.

Intuitive, “N”, preference people are easily able to make links, see future possibilities, the big picture, they believe there is not one answer, they have a real and abstract view of the world, they may go off tangent, they quickly move to a conclusion by following their hunch. Those who are considered to be “entrepreneurial” Partners are more likely to be this preference.

Thinking/Feeling (T/F)

This is all about preference in decision making and where it starts to get really interesting.

Of the top firms who have shared their profiling there is not one Partner that had an “F” character type. It is common for executives to be “T” preference however top performing client development professionals need ambidextrousness in this area.

The “T” preference people prefer to step out of the problem to solve it objectively to be logical and analytical. They like to be appreciated by being given promotion, cash, presents. Whilst “F” preference people tend to step into the problem and solve it considering the people involved. They like to be appreciated by being told, shown, thanked.

For future success, it’s essential Partners acknowledge and develop this weakness. There is a brilliant technique that creates an accelerated path from “T” to “F” preference that I have used with clients for over a decade. It will be shared when we go through “Strategies” part of the performance equation.


This is about the approach you take in life where Judging, “J”, preference people like structure, order, closure, working to lists and moving towards a conclusion. They are quick to think they have enough information to make a decision however are at risk of being impulsive. The Perceiving, “P”, preference like to go with the flow, are open to change and tend to believe they don’t have enough information to make a decision, they are at risk of being a procrastinator.

Again of the top firms that have shared their profiling there is not one Partner that has a “P” preference. Most executives tend to be “J” preference people however when it comes to strategic decisions it’s imperative to be aware of and comfortable with becoming ambidextrous in this area because it’s the foundation of future success.

It’s clear that successful Partners of the future must have conflicting yet essential skills: to be able to see the objective clarity of a situation as clearly as the people needs; to have the answer, to be clear and decisive as easily as being comfortable with delaying decision making and asking questions because ambidextrousness in those areas determine client development and practice development skills, thereby profitability, hence the importance to future success.

The Challenge

To amplify your learning consider your responses to the first challenge in the context of the above information:

1. What additional insights do you have?

2. What small actions can you take immediately that can have a substantial impact on future performance?


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About the author:

Seven is a behavioural change specialist, leadership expert, professional speaker, twice published author, founder and MD of Odyssey Solutions Ltd and has partnered with LexisNexis to further equip partners of law firms to win new business. 

Seven generally works with Partners, CEO’s, MD’s, Directors and Senior Executives on a one-to-one and workshop basis to help transform their performance.

Seven is in demand as an expert in her field and has appeared many times in the national media including being the expert presenter of the Virgin 1 six part documentary series The Naked Office and the coach who assisted Sue Perkins to build her confidence (in only forty five minutes) at a critical point on the BBC Maestro – Sue won.