Leadership strengths through the lens of Type

Posted 02 February 2017 by
Aidan Millar - Human Development Consultant for Psychometrics Canada

Originally published in November 2016 by Psychometrics Canada.

How do we help leaders reach their full potential? It is well-established that our personality preferences tend to influence which activities are relatively easier – and more difficult – than others. We also know that in order to be effective in leadership roles, we must enact a wide variety of behaviours that will both contradict and align with our preferences at different times.

Like most others, what comes more naturally for leaders tends to be their strengths or key contributions. Meanwhile, those behaviours that require more concentration to perform may require development and may lag in terms of their quality.

In an effort to further understand how a leader’s personality preferences – specifically their function pairs – influence their key contributions, Psychometrics Canada conducted a research study, Personality Type and Leadership, relating personality type with various leadership activities. In this survey, ST SF, NF and NT type combinations were related to critical behaviours required for leadership.

We believe this information will prove useful in your work coaching both current and future leaders to become more successful by leveraging their natural talents and addressing possible gaps in their skill sets.

ST Leaders: “Doing it Right the First Time”

Key contributions of ST leaders were found to include many activities related to the execution of work; not surprising given their common ‘bottom line’ approach. Their top strengths were listed as solving problems and analyzing issues (81% of those surveyed) and taking initiative (68%).  As a result, it is likely that in leadership, ST leaders will be naturally good at:

SF Leaders: “Lean on Me” 

While STs tend to focus on the execution of objectives and problem-solving as their key strengths, SF leaders more often reported that building relationships (83%), developing others (77%), and promoting teamwork (75%) were amongst their major contributions. These findings were not surprising given what we know of the SF preference’s natural approach toward providing for others’ needs. From this, SFs in leadership positions may demonstrate a natural proclivity for:

NF Leaders: “Inspiration for the Future” 

NF individuals tend to consistently bring future-oriented development and inspiration of people. This pattern was echoed in our leadership study and in terms of their key contributions, as a strong majority of NF respondents reported that some of their key strengths in leadership were their ability to inspire and motivate people (84% of those surveyed), to develop others (81%) and to build relationships (87%). In their day-to-day, NF leaders are likely to excel at:

NT Leaders: “Begin with the End in Mind”

Just like NFs, NT Leaders tend to also be drawn towards possibilities of what could be. However, there is a significant difference in where they might focus this future orientation. NTs reported that their major leadership contributions included solving problems and analyzing issues (89% of those surveyed), displaying a strategic perspective (82%) and taking initiative (73%). As a group, NTs seem to see themselves as a source of critical analysis, a strategic mindset and a willingness to move forward. Therefore, when leading others, NTs will likely be good at:

Indeed, every type has obvious benefits to bring to leadership, simply as a function of their natural preferences. But it also should be noted that effective leaders are not specialists, nor should they be. Effective leadership requires a wide variety of behaviours and a broad focus on a multitude of issues. While we may all bring leadership strengths, the ability to flex our approach is a requirement for optimal effectiveness. Those who cannot do all of the things mentioned – and more – are sure to struggle in the leadership arena. 

More about MBTI Type and Leadership

Decisions, self-confidence and the glass ceiling: can the MBTI framework help? 

Conflict and leadership: what does the data say? 

Trends in global leadership: where does type fit in? 

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