Personality Types and Leadership

I had posted earlier on Myers-Briggs, personality types, and teams (here and here).  My interest in MBTI started 15 years ago with a boss who was an outstanding leader and leadership coach — he had led the VP’s detail in the Secret Service — and was very cultured and wise to boot. 

As our team went through some leadership sessions, my boss picked up very quickly that I wanted to be a “T” — using “Thinking” to make decisions from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable and matching a given set of rules.  But he wondered how strong the preference really was. 

What he was concerned about my misunderstanding of the relationship between personality type and leadership — it isn’t necessarily one’s type that’s important, it is how well one is tune with that type.  My boss’s concern wasn’t that I scored higher on “Thinking” over “Feeling” (Feeling = coming to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved.)  His concern was that I was ignoring parts of my personality that could prove useful in leadership situations.  

The confirmation came when we were chatting and he somewhat obliquely asked about past romantic relationships.  Seven years on I still talked about my ex intensely, admiringly, and wistfully — a “strong” INTJ would have had no problem moving on.  He strongly encouraged me to focus on improving my “F” decision-making awareness.  Otherwise I would spend my career and life wondering why my wonderful, logical schemes kept falling apart.

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