Taking on leadership roles has a way of amplifying personalities — highlighting what’s awesome, yes, but also revealing our weaknesses, which challenges us to be more honest with ourselves (that is, if we’re good leaders!).
You probably know all about your Myers-Briggs personality based on the inventory created by mother-and-daughter duo Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. Even if you’re not super into personality types, it can be a helpful tool that might help you discern what your natural inclinations are when you’re placed in positions of power. After all, not all of us will lead like famous ENTJ Steve Jobs — and that’s absolutely fine.
INFJ: The Orchestra Conductor
Thoughtful and righteous, INFJs thrive as leaders when they’re working in organizations that jive with their morals and principals. Since they’re good listeners and intuitively understand social ecosystems, they’re able to orchestrate teams to see a cohesive vision. Often circumspect and unpretentious, they win their team’s respect through their own inspiring example. They’re usually confident in what they do, but only if they believe the mission in their bones — otherwise they can mentally check-out.
INFP: The Creative
Idealistic to the core, INFPs thrive in leadership positions that are flexible enough to allow them to leverage their creativity outside of the box, but also structured enough to keep them on task. Although inexperienced INFPs typically avoid conflict, seasoned INFPs know that finding ways to channel inevitable conflict is a crucial survival skill, and doing so will help to achieve real harmony within teams. As leaders, they are positive and have a knack to see potential in others, and thus understand how to put individuals into roles that will allow them (and the team) to thrive.
ENFP: The Union Chief
On the surface, they might seem like gregarious and natural leaders, but most ENFPs are not power hungry. So their leadership style tends toward being strongly egalitarian, which has its perks, but might be confusing when some personalities need specificity. Inexperienced ENFPs may often neglect the nitty-gritty details, but seasoned ENFPs know how to find systems that will motivate teams to stay on top of these details so they will feed and sustain the bigger picture.
ENFJ: The Mentor
As leaders, ENFJs are natural mentors — they easily know how to navigate relationships in order to harmoniously achieve goals, and believe the workplace is ripe for opportunities for others to thrive and grow. Generally, this type enjoys their leadership position when they are convinced of the overall mission of the organization, and believe that there’s opportunity to make a positive difference both within and beyond the organization. Their heart sings when they see others cooperating because of their leadership, but will be extremely discouraged if their workplace is strife with conflict and egotistical politics.
INTJ: The Strategist
Strategic and quick, INTJs can’t help but analyze problems and see the solutions — and many will tell you that this is both a blessing and a curse! They’re brilliant when it comes to complex problems, yet they don’t exactly love managing individuals, frequently finding small talk exhausting. They can see managing many personalities as a distraction from the overall goal — but will certainly execute leadership positions if they must. They will value those who are self-motivated and show consistent competence. Inexperienced INTJs might struggle with communicating details that others see as pertinent, and thus will work best in roles where they can rely on a colleague or structure to communicate the nitty-gritty details for them.
INTP: The Visionary
INTPs may be guarded or quiet, but once they start talking, their intelligence is palpable, and usually rather inspiring. Filled to the brim with ideas, they can be brilliant leaders when leading the right team of brainy counterparts. Sometimes, their leadership style can be confusing if people on the team struggle with solving problems autonomously. INTPs can often get caught up in the endless possibilities, and lose direction when it comes to practical implementation. Thus, they do best in roles where they can lean on someone else who can handle those pesky particulars while they chase the “big idea.”
ENTP: The Devil’s Advocate
While they often gravitate toward competitive spaces such as law or tech, ENTPs can be found in any organization, always on the lookout for trends and cutting-edge innovation. They enjoy playing the “devil’s advocate” in debate within organizations that are focused on getting ahead in the long-term. As leaders, ENTPs are competitive and enterprising, and will expect those around them to keep up. When it comes to managing relationships, ENTPs might be more transactional, but that doesn’t mean that they’re ruthless individuals. As a manager, they might not be super interested in your emotional needs, but if you prove yourself reliable and competent, they will give you ample opportunities to advance with a lot of freedom.
ENTJ: The Captain
When people stop and think of the quintessential leader, chances are they’re picturing an ENTJ — outgoing, ambitious, systematic, and decisive. Articulate and effusive by nature, they are willing to hear out all kinds of opinions, but as leaders, once a decision is made, it is made, and they’re ready to move on to the next pending problem. Yes, inexperienced ENTJs can be unwavering and exacting in their demands and critical when it comes to managing people, but ENTJs are focused on long-term growth, especially when it comes to themselves. Thus, a more seasoned and self-aware ENTJ understands diplomacy, and believes that work environments that foster opportunities and advancement for everyone will yield the best results.
ISFJ: The Foreman
ISFJs might not be ones to naturally seek the spotlight and step up as a leader — but when they do, they thrive when it comes to executing practicalities. Dutiful and down-to-earth, they work very hard to be helpful to those who look up to them. Not ones to rock the boat, ISFJ leaders go by the book and will strive to execute their role totally grounded in reality. They respect authority and will reward loyalty to those who have respect for their role. They are most effective when it comes to building one-on-one relationships, choosing to assist behind the scenes. After all, they’re not interested in stealing the show — they believe credit goes to where it is due.
ISFP: The Cooperator
ISFPs usually aren’t ones to eagerly jump into leadership roles, and typically only want to take the lead when the venture is of personal importance, or they realize that they might actually be the best person for the job. When they do take over leading, they strive to empower their team to accomplish practical, realistic goals in a cooperative, harmonious manner. Their particular strengths are found in assessing the resources at hand and adapting to the situation accordingly. Not ones to dominate, ISFPs try to lead by example, and ultimately believe that a good leader is one who serves others.
ESFP: The Connector
If the ESFP leader had a superpower, it would be that they know how to read the room. Extraordinarily observant of those around them, they are easily able to connect with people to help them figure out what they need in order to do well. They never fail to charm a stranger. Upbeat, positive, and usually full of energy, the ESFP can struggle when negativity and roadblocks come up (as they inevitably do) and will sometimes have the tendency to postpone making tough decisions. A more mature ESFP, however, will rely on mechanisms to problem-solve and plan accordingly, and will focus on winning concrete, short-term goals.
ESFJ: The Organizer
Outgoing and practical, ESFJs generally have no problem taking on a leadership role and will do everything in their power to make sure that everything is executed on time and in the most organized manner possible. Like their introverted counterparts, ESFJs are also very much motivated by tradition, and will rely on procedures and rules when working with a team. Practical and communicative, they will motivate others by making sure that they have the resources required to get the job done — and will go out of their way to make sure that everyone feels acknowledged and respected.
ISTJ: The Fixer
ISTJs are motivated to lead when they have strong expertise and find themselves wanting to improve processes. As people, they can’t help but see ways operations can be made more efficient. Hands-on and practical, ISTJs don’t like departing from established processes too much, but rather prefer to evolve it through incremental, pragmatic improvements. Sure, they believe in innovation, but only in the context of measurable results. They have a hard time innovating in the conceptual realm, and go for problems that are tangible. As leaders, they will work toward solving these practical issues, and will lead by example.
ISTP: The Crisis Manager
When it comes to leadership styles, ISTPs shine when it comes to stepping up during an emergency — when actions must be taken immediately, and they need to solve the problem in the moment. Depending on what they’re leading, this can be a fantastic trait. They will thrive in positions where the “now” matters — be it military, navigating emergency rooms, or flying commercial planes. When the organization doesn’t need this kind of on-your-feet thinking, however, and the situation calls for long-term planning and real delegation, an ISTP may struggle if they haven’t worked on developing on leading through diplomacy and charging others with roles.
ESTP: The Quarterback
Assertive, energetic, and sometimes bitingly straightforward, the ESTP is also the kind of leader that is fast to react and take action. Usually enthusiastic, they enjoy finding efficient solutions and reading other people, and take pride in encouraging them to solve problems through processes that they know will work. When it comes to strategizing for the long-term, however, they might struggle visualising hypothetical problems, preferring to react to issues rather than anticipate and proactively avoid them. This tendency can be mitigated if they find the right teammates who can help them stay strategic.
ESTJ: The Communicator
ESTJ leaders take great pride when tasks are executed correctly, consistently and on time — meeting their methodical standards. Communication in leadership comes naturally to the ESTJ. Their teams will know what to do, and the ESTJ provides them resources on how to do it. However, ESTJs who are not self-aware can be a bit overbearing, and might even have a tendency to micromanage during times of stress, which can ultimately backfire, especially since ESTJs prefer tried-and-true approaches and can thus overlook opportunities to innovate. Nonetheless, a mature ESTJ is a natural, dependable leader — and as hard-working as they come.