From a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) standpoint my personailty is often described as ENTP or ENTJ. With each letter describing where I stand in the four personality dichotomies, I’m (E)xtraverted, use i(N)tuition to make many decisions, enjoy (T)thinking about problems and am (P)erceptive or (J)udging in many lifestyle choices. The result I get just depends on the mood I’m in when I take the test. As described by the 16personalities website:
The ENTP personality type is the ultimate devil’s advocate, thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs and letting the ribbons drift in the wind for all to see. Unlike their more determined Judging (J) counterparts, ENTPs don’t do this because they are trying to achieve some deeper purpose or strategic goal, but for the simple reason that it’s fun. No one loves the process of mental sparring more than ENTPs, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points. An odd juxtaposition arises with ENTPs, as they are uncompromisingly honest, but will argue tirelessly for something they don’t actually believe in, stepping into another’s shoes to argue a truth from another perspective.
ENTJs are natural-born leaders. People with this personality type embody the gifts of charisma and confidence, and project authority in a way that draws crowds together behind a common goal. But unlike their Feeling (F) counterpart, ENTJs are characterized by an often ruthless level of rationality, using their drive, determination and sharp minds to achieve whatever end they’ve set for themselves. Perhaps it is best that they make up only three percent of the population, lest they overwhelm the more timid and sensitive personality types that make up much of the rest of the world – but we have ENTJs to thank for many of the businesses and institutions we take for granted every day.
This describes me pretty well and for those of you that have taken the MBTI test you’d likely agree it does a good job describing you as well. As you can guess after reading the above, it can make leadership fun, but sometimes bit challenging.
Here are the things I need to constantly remind myself to:
- Cultivate Relationships. Given that emotional expression isn’t a strong point of any Analyst (NT) type, it’s important that I make focused efforts to strengthen relationships. It’s not that I don’t value strong, healthy relationships, it’s just that I tend to think other people “just get me” when in fact they don’t. As a leader, relationships are the foundation upon whcih success is built. Additionally, a deeper, thoughtful relationship can be rewarding in and of itself.
- Be Sensitive to Feelings. Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is so very true. As an ENTx I can sometimes hurt someone’s feelings with brutal honesty. To avoid this, I try to stay in dialog as much as possible and stay aware of the point at which things go south. As strange as it may sound I also try to speak from a place of love rather than logic in this tough converstaions.
- Listen. My mind is typically going 100 miles per hour. Not only hearing what someone else is saying but truly listening is paramount. I’ve found two techniques that help with this. 1) Active Listening. This is in essence repeating back what someone has said in your own words. 2) Asking powerful questions. These are unbiased, open-ended questions that allow me to better understand someone…they are not leading questions. For instance “What are some of the reasons you feel that way?” as opposed to “Don’t you thinkg X is a better way?”
- Follow Though. I love thinking about the “big picture” and often envision things as though they have already happened. As a leader, this constant moving to the next thing can leave those following us upset and confused. While it’s nearly impossible for me to stop thinking like this (or at least stifling), I need to include the steps necessary for the whole team to get there…then stay the course.
- Pay Attention to Details. This is sometimes hard. It’s not that I can’t pay attention to details, it’s just that sometimes I’m hyper-focused on all the parts of the big picture. I’ve found that pairing myself with an ISTJ or ESTJ seems to work well as they thrive on the order and details.
Even though MBTI is not a perfect description of me, it does give me a nice framework for improving myself and my leadership skills.