As we learned in the Leadership by the Numbers series about the Enneagram types, each person’s unique personality traits help determine the type of leader they are prone to be. Another strong tool to use to uncover leadership tendencies and understanding strengths and weaknesses associated with personality traits is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
First published in 1962, the indicator examines different personality preferences within four specific relational realms:
- People and things (Extraversion) or ideas and information (Introversion)
- Facts and reality (Sensing) or possibilities and potential (Intuition)
- Logic and truth (Thinking) or values and relationships (Feeling)
- A lifestyle that is well-structured (Judgment) or one that goes with the flow (Perception)
Of these four preferences, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator determines 16 different personality types through a combination of Extraversion or Introversion; Sensing or Intuition; Thinking or Feeling; and Judgment or Perception. The first letter of each preference becomes the Myers-Briggs personality type, with excepting to Intuition (N).
During the third part of this series, we will examine the four personality types that align with Extroversion (E) and Sensing (S).
ESFJ – The Generous Leader
Known as the supportive contributor, individuals with the ESFJ distinction are friendly, sympathetic, and skilled at understanding the needs of those around them. ESFJs are strong encouragers and tend to be great at showing appreciation for the contributions and work of their teammates. They use fact-gathering processes to help make decisions, and in turn, help others. They are often described as practical, loyal, and true servant leaders, putting the needs of their team ahead of their own.
According to Myers-Briggs, ESFJs “usually like to work in a friendly and caring atmosphere, with other people who share their values. They enjoy interacting with customers and colleagues to communicate the value of a product, service, or project.” These individuals are “often driven to take care of the immediate needs of their team or individuals they work closely with. They like to make sure that rules and traditions are followed. They’ll usually be the colleague who remembers birthdays, makes sure that new team members are welcomed, and encourages the team to bond through group lunches and other activities. In a family, they often make sure that traditions are continued—such as celebrating holidays in a particular way each year.”
While ESFJs are gifted at short-term goals and practical planning, they tend to struggle with strategy and long-term planning and goal setting. Because of their innate need to maintain harmony, they may struggle with tough decisions and prioritizing the needs of others’ feelings over the needs of the company’s vision.
ESFP – The Charismatic Leader
Referred to as the enthusiastic improvisor, those with the ESFP personality tendency are flexible, expressive, friendly, and excellent observers. They tend to enjoy experiencing new things and are optimistic, sociable, and realistic leaders. They usually are “the life of the party” and easily make friends with colleagues and peers.
According to Myers-Briggs, ESFPs “generally like to make work fun and create an atmosphere of cooperation. They learn best by trying out new skills with others. They’re often attracted to variety and the chance to work on practical, hands-on tasks.” ESFPs pursue opportunities to help provide those around them with immediate and practical support. While they are “motivated by the desire to have fun, they can be easily distracted by the newest idea, process, or relationship.”
One potential struggle ESFPs have is with long-term commitments. Because of their desire to not be tied-down, these free-spirits take advantage of the present but grow weary of focusing on long-term vision and the future. Another potential issue ESFPs may have is a struggle with making decisions. They also tend to struggle with taking decisive measures due to their concern over how each decision will impact others.
ESTJ – The Decisive Leader
People with the ESTJ personality type are extremely motivated individuals who organize people and resources to achieve success, which is why they are referred to as the efficient organizer. They are driven by their values of order, structure, efficiency, accomplishments. While other personality types may struggle with decision making, ESTJs make decisions easily in order to move the project forward.
According to Myers-Briggs, ESTJs “enjoy setting clear goals and deadlines and analyzing problems logically. They work best in a stable environment with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.” Driven to get things done swiftly, ESTJs “like to have clarity in all areas of their working lives. They often like data, math, or science, and tend to favor careers that focus on accuracy, results, and the efficient management of people or systems. They naturally consider what has or hasn’t worked in the past and make sure that past mistakes aren’t repeated.”
With their efficient, action-oriented work style, they tend to overlook others’ work styles, feelings, and emotions. While focused on what works best for the team from a data standpoint, they can ignore how their decisions or work style affects their teammates. This can also lead to ESTJs adopting a micro-management leadership style.
ESTP – The Fearless Leader
Referred to as the energetic problem solver, ESTPs lead through energy and enthusiasm, motivating their team with their easygoing, charismatic, and common-sense approach to leadership. These individuals learn by doing and use their past experiences to solve present problems logically. Because of their problem-solving approach, they face issues with courage and optimism whenever decisions are needed.
According to Myers-Briggs, ESTPs “enjoy taking risks and solving problems. They work best when they’re surrounded by active, task-oriented people. Their ideal workplace is fast-paced and focused. Spontaneous and adventurous, they often prefer to work without strict rules or restrictions.” Always aware of their environment, ESTPs are “accurate, data-driven, and efficient. They’ll often notice what needs to get done and act without hesitation.”
Due to their multi-tasking approach, some ESTPs get distracted by the “next best thing,” and not finish the projects they have started. While they see opportunities easily and focus on the present, they struggle with the difficulty of focusing on and reaching long-term goals.
The Myers-Briggs Leader
In the next instalment, we will focus on the Introversion Sensing leadership types, including ISFJ, ISFP, ISTJ, and ISTP
How has your team utilized the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? How has understanding your personality type helped you lead more effectively? Let us know in the comments section below!