Leaders need others: Myers Briggs again


It was one of those clarifying moments when over about two minutes, the person giving a presentation outlined an off-the-cuff idea, and I thought a) I’ve never thought of that, b) that’s really important, and c) if that’s the only thing I learnt this conference, it’s been worth the price of the ticket.

It’s something else about the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, and if you’re very familiar with it you might find what he said pretty basic, but for me it was a light-bulb moment.

You remember the four basic pairings: crudely put they are Extravert and Introvert (what drains you, and where do you get your energy – action or reflection); Sensing and iNtuition (are we facts and data people, or those who tend to see underlying patterns); Thinking and Feeling (biassed more to working out the task, or how people feel about the issue); and Judging and Perceiving (do we like closure, or are we more open and unguarded)

Forget the first and last pairings.  Most people who lead tend to do so from the N-T selection.  That is, the dominant function of a leader is to clarify complex information into an organised task.

Here’s the thing: It is therefore critical not only that I have people around me with the other two functions, but that I must deploy us all, in deliberate sequence: S>N>T>F

S – facts first.  Get these people to gather the information.  Your bias will be towards generating the central insight, but you need to give yourself the best possible chance of getting your hunch right.

N, T then we leaders come in, making our special contribution, ‘This is what it all means, and this is what we’re going to do about it.’

F – finally, get the Feelers to crawl all over it.  Who will be affected? Who will mind? Is this an extreme idea, or a majority one?  How can consensus be built around it?

Or, in Bible terms, I need the other parts of the body – very particular parts, and in an orchestrated set of moves.  Not to compensate for my weaknesses, but to make us all stronger.

Find your S F friends, and work hard together.

(For those for whom this is basic information try this advanced level observation: most leaders tend to be either ENTJ or INTJ. Match that against Jim Collins’ insights, and ask yourself, which is more likely to be the Charismatic leader, and which the Level 5 leader?)

I should add that it wasn’t the only thing I learnt at the conference, and my mind is still buzzing thanks to CPAS and Peter Brierley.

3 comments on “Leaders need others: Myers Briggs again”

  1. Chris, This sounds very similar to using De Bono’s six thinking hats -have you ever tried that in church life?

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