How Understanding Your MBTI Type Can Make You A Better Leader
What makes a great leader? That really depends on the definition you read. Some will say that a great leader inspires those around them. That leadership is action, not position. A great leader will show people the goal, not tell them. Despite the varied definitions, in reality good leaders are a combination of many things.
I think we can mostly agree that good leaders have something to do with having the ability to develop effective relationships; a lot to do with influence and motivation; and of course, a lot to to do with productivity and results.
Having a good leader at the helm of a team creates more than simply better work results. A good leader gets everyone on board with the goals and vision of the team (influence); good leaders give people a reason to care about a project way beyond their own self-interest.
Thankfully too, leadership isn’t merely an in-born trait! We can learn and grow as leaders. And critically, getting to know our preferred or natural leadership styles and what aspects of leadership are hardest for us can be the key to seeing change and improving as a leader.
Myer Briggs Type and Leadership
As we’ve previously discussed, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has been known for classifying personality types for decades. Maybe surprisingly to some however, there is no perfect MBTI Leadership Type. Though it is true that some Myers Briggs personality types do tend to end up in leadership positions more often than others.
In fact, from an MBTI Leadership perspective, everyone has a natural way of leading that is largely based on their Myers Briggs Type Preferences.
Here are four ways that MBTI can help you develop as a leader:
1 – MBTI can show you where to leverage your leadership strengths
Understanding your Myers Briggs Type preferences can create better self-awareness of your leadership strengths and your potential blind spots or weaknesses as a leader.
Many of us are prone to downplay our strengths, but the MBTI can help you pinpoint and accelerate your personality strengths. For instance, ENFP’s MBTI leadership style tends to rely on a lot of inspiration, whereas INTJs MBTI leader rely on their rationality and determination to succeed.
Most of us have been led by someone very different from us in the past and we may feel like we cannot measure up to that kind of leadership: the MBTI helps us realise that there are many forms of effective leadership. Everything from the ISTP’s quiet and tactical leadership that doesn’t rely on a lot of micro-managing, to the ENFJ’s charismatic and encouraging style of leadership that focuses on diplomacy and communication. All these can all be leveraged once we realise that there are many successful leaders with vastly different personalities.
2 – Myers Briggs helps you identify your weaknesses as a leader
It should be obvious that no-one has a perfect leadership style. We all have blind-spots. When we look at the 16 different personality types within the Myers Briggs Type Indicator framework, it becomes clear that each MBTI type has some susceptibility to certain blind spots or weaknesses.
ISTJ leaders, for instance, can be prone to meticulous detail thinking and may also display a lack of concern for the feelings of the team.
On the other hand, ENFP leaders may lose track of the many details in the onslaught of creative big-picture ideas they continually have as a result, have trouble completing projects they start.
The Myers Briggs framework also connects the fact that sometimes our strengths make us prone to certain weaknesses. Just knowing these weaknesses however, helps us prepare for them and mitigate the effects.
3 – The MBTI prompts self-reflection
Although it is helpful to read your MBTI interpretative report and identify your individual sentences by saying, ‘yes, that is me’, or ‘no, that is not me’. But additionally, when seeing a statement about your weaknesses, you can ask yourself, ‘what does it mean for myself and my team if this is how I behave or are even perceived as behaving this way?’
On reflection, you may identify moments when your leadership style seemed to not mesh with others. An especially revealing thing to consider is asking someone who knows you well about the statements in your MBTI results: if you don’t feel like those statements are true, you can often get nuanced insight from a friend or family member.
4 – MBTI Leadership and your Team
It can be extremely revealing as a leader to know the MBTI Personality Types of the team you are leading also. We should never use the MBTI as a recruitment tool of course. However, as a professional development tool, it can be extremely useful to look at how the different personality types within the team may contribute differently to overall team effectiveness.
As a leader this kind of insight allows you to approach tasks and projects in a methodical way, and organise your team to deliver the best possible results.
You may discover also a slight disconnect between the work that a team member is assigned to accomplish and their MBTI type natural preferences. This can lead to open honest discussions about a team members strengths and weaknesses and how they might better utilize their strengths within the team to produce better results.
As we saw earlier, ISTJ and ENFP Leaders are technically the opposites ‘opposites’ in the type scale, but when placed together they offer a great balance big-picture vision and the small-detail focus. Knowing this as a leader helps you surround yourself with people that can help you achieve your best.
Your personality does not entirely dictate the way you behave as a leader, but it does play a significant part in influencing the choices you may make. Being more aware of your natural strengths and potential weaknesses can help improve your leadership. Good self-awareness is crucial too if you want to be a good leader and the MBTI Personality Instrument can be enormously beneficial in helping you understand yourself that little bit better.
Geoff Prior – July 2018
Lingford Consulting uses many MBTI Personality Profiling Tools and Reports to help leaders better understand their preferred communication styles, problem solving approach and work preferences. These insights can help you become the most effective leader possible.
If you’d like to learn more about the MBTI process and how it can help you and your team, contact us to get started.