What personality types support good leadership?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is often used to improve overall performance in organizations. This tool can help workers gain self-awareness, improve emotional intelligence, and better understand how they—as well as those around them—operate in the workplace.
No one of the 16 types identified in the MBTI are better than any other, although there are studies that suggest some types are better suited for certain jobs than others.
A good many of my executive coaching clients tend to be in the ENTJ (extrovert, intuitive, thinking, judger) quadrant, which is quite common among leaders.
ENTJs make good leaders because of their innate ability to direct groups of people, according to Isabel Briggs Myers and Peter B. Myers, authors of “Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type.” They tend to be self-driven, motivated, energetic, assertive, confident and competitive. ENTJs are unusually influential and organized, yet they may judge others by their own tough standards.
Famous ENTJs include Aristotle, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Margaret Thatcher, Jack Welch, and Bill Gates. ENTJs are also the most rare of the 16 types representing just 2 percent to 5 percent of males and 1 percent to 3 percent of females in the United States.
A study called “Personality Type in Leadership” by the Center of Creative Leadership found that although the extrovert/introvert and intuitive/sensation preference were equally represented, thinking and judging were more predominate in leaders. This does not necessarily mean that feeling and perceiving are not valuable traits in leaders. However, the structure and values of most organizations today tend to favor logical and decisive behaviors.
ENTJs are primarily concerned with making things happen and may not fully appreciate that other people may take a little longer to understand or may not be as forthcoming or direct, and assume that silence means agreement.
The ENTJ doesn’t generally understand emotions, preferring to deal with issues as problems or concepts. Therefore, trying to appeal to the ENTJs’ emotional side may not be the best way to resolve issues.
There are important differences between thinkers and feelers, and ENTJs would do well to keep these in mind in order to improve relationships with those who are identified as feelers instead of thinkers. These include:
- Feelers tend to be sympathetic, while thinkers focus on logic.
- Feelers are more interested in people than things.
- Feelers are more people-oriented, responding more easily to people’s values.
- Feelers recognize and acknowledge their own as well as others’ emotions and know that this is a strength, not a weakness.
ENTJs are more likely to analyze and apply logic with interpersonal issues, which can annoy and puzzle the feeling types. No matter what the problem, ENTJs need to factor in the human element in decision-making. They would do well to consider consulting other types for their opinions before making a decision. And they should take note of their own needs and feelings.
All of this, of course, will slow down the ENTJ’s decisiveness, but in the long term will serve them well.
Though judgers may view perceivers as aimless drifters, they need to understand that perceivers simply want more information before making decisions. In addition:
- What the judger does aloud, the perceiver does within.
- Perceivers can make decisions, but their inclination is to focus on gathering information in order to keep their options open.
- Perceivers see structure as more limiting than enabling.
- Perceivers are more tolerant of other people’s differences and will adapt to fit into whatever the situation requires.
ENTJs must develop their perceptive ability and suspend the judgment function just long enough to give perception a chance. They must continue to use judging on themselves, but not on other people. If ENTJs let thinking-judgment dominate every aspect of their lives, their feeling will be too suppressed to be of any use.
If an unexpected explosion of temper shows up, there’s a good possibility that the ENTJ needs to allow space for feeling now and again. This will provide a constructive outlet before reaching the boiling point.
Though the ENTJ preference is quite common in leaders, these people need to recognize the importance of the feeling and perceiving functions both in themselves as well as others in the workplace. A preference should be only that, and finding a balance within oneself will help ENTJs grow into even stronger leaders. Appreciating the preference others have for feelings and perceiving will also help them find value in those who possess these gifts.
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