Monthly Archives: February 2012

So You Want to be a Leader: What is Your Myers-Briggs Type?

In conversations with leaders and those who select them the topic of the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) occasionally arises. While the Myers-Briggs type may not be the best assessment of personality it is certainly the most well known.

Let’s start with a quick review. A Myers-Briggs type contains four letters. For example, I usually score as an ENFP. The first letter is how you gather energy. Extroverts (E) are energized in groups and during interactions with other people. Introverts (I) are more energized in quiet moments. The second letter can be thought of as the way you gather information. Intuitive (N) leaning individuals look for patterns in the past while sensing (S) individuals look around in the present moment. You can think of the third letter as an indication of how you make decisions. Thinking (T) individuals use logic and reason to make decisions. Feeling (F) people look for what will best create harmony. Finally, the last letter is how an individual closes issues. Judging (J) individuals like to close things down, to converge on solutions or decisions, wrap them up with a bow, and move on to the next project. Perceiving (P) individuals like to leave things open because they may want to incorporate new data as it become available.

I frequently hear upper level managers say something to the effect of, “I think I want Sally to lead that team because she’s good at getting projects done. She gets groups to converge to a solution rather quickly.” When I hear this my first question is to inquire as to the nature of the new group’s task. If the task is one which requires a lot of discovery and inquiry, then Sally is probably not a good fit. From the manager’s first statement it is clear that Sally has a tendency toward judging and closing things down. The judging factor is indeed what you need when closing a project down, but it’s not what you want for a group whose mission is to explore and discover.

An important point to remember is that the Myers-Briggs type indicates a preference. It is not a fixed type of personality. If you look at the questions you will see that you are forced to choose between one of the responses.

As a leader, I don’t always care where a person scores, that is, what their preference is. I care greatly, however, whether or not they can easily shift from one mode to another. For example, a leader may be in a position which requires much analysis with numbers and technical issues. For this the thinking orientation will serve well to help make good and quick decisions. However, when personnel issues arise we need this leader to be able to shift quickly, to adapt to a feeling perspective.

The Myers-Briggs type is an excellent model to describe behaviors, and is one I frequently use with my clients. As with all tools, use it wisely and within its limitations.


  • The Myers-Briggs type indicates an individual’s preference
  • How well a leader can adapt to the issue in the present moment is more important than their preferred mode
  • The Myers-Briggs type is a good model that highlights many important elements of leadership

Keywords: leadership, Myers-Briggs, MBTI, extrovert, introvert, sensing, intuitive, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving, adaptability


  • Furnham, A. (1996). The big five versus the big four: The relationship between the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and NEO-PI five factor model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 21(2), 303-307.
  • Furnham, A., Dissou, G., Sloan, P., & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2007). Personality and intelligence in business people: A study of two personality and two intelligence measures. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(1), 99-109.
  • Furnham, A., Moutafi, J., & Crump, J. (2003). The relationship between the revised NEO-Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Social Behavior and Personality, 31(6), 577-584.
  • Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (2003). MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs type indicator (3rd ed.). Mountain View, Calif.: CPP.
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Rick Santorum-How Persistence Pays

I’ve been fascinated with the 2012 Republican primary process. A field of eight has narrowed to a field of four and of those only Ron Paul has had a steady following. After squeaking a win in the Iowa caucuses Santorum trailed significantly and many were wondering when he would follow his four compatriots in dropping out of the race.

But Rick Santorum persisted and kept showing up. It paid off. On February 7 he won two caucuses and a primary, putting him firmly back in the race.

Perseverance, or what some call grit, is an excellent leadership trait that is infrequently discussed. Research has shown it to have a measurable impact on success in education. Qualitative research reveals perseverance as a common thread among successful individuals.

This doesn’t mean that you should continue down a dead-end path on a project, however. Balance is needed when encountering obstacles. I find it helpful to keep one eye outside looking around to get a sense of whether or not it may be time to adapt and change course or stay on the current course.

And so, as I continue to monitor the Republican primary process I am reminded what the great sage Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Sometimes that’s all you have to do.


  • Perseverance frequently wins the race when others have caved
  • When obstacles arise exercise balance in deciding how much to look around for alternatives

Keywords: leadership, persistence, perseverance, grit


  • Doskoch, P. (2005). The winning edge. Psychology Today, 38(6), 42-52.
  • Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087
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How About Trust Intelligence?

A few weeks ago the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer results were announced. It was a sad day for CEOs and government leaders. Trust that business, government, and NGOs (non-government organizations) will “do what is right” all declined. The credibility of CEOs took a hit, moving from 50% in 2011 to 38% in 2012. Government officials or regulators also declined in credibility from 43% to 29%.

As you well know, trust is a big deal. Leaders frequently bemoan to me the lack of trust from their subordinates. I’ve had the conversation enough times that it has caused me ponder the notion of a “trust intelligence.” We’ve got emotional intelligence, why not trust intelligence? It flows both ways, as well. Subordinates may not trust their superiors and superiors may not trust their subordinates.

Trust is a significant factor in team performance and contains many facets. Let’s look at a list of the elements a leader needs in order to earn trust:

  • Social interaction, approachable
  • Enthusiastic
  • Takes initiative
  • Resolves uncertainty as much as possible
  • Consistent communication
  • Responsive
  • Calming
  • Putting the team before self
  • Fair
  • Respectful
  • Resolves conflict
  • Honest
  • Respects confidences
  • Inclusive
  • Focuses the effort
  • Develops procedures when necessary

With this many facets it is clear that an individual would have difficulty learning to build trust by rote. I believe that the ability and desire to earn trust needs to come from an individual’s soul, from deep within, otherwise it is easily perceived as false and self-serving. Some leaders feel that they can demand or dictate trust. I wish it were so easy.

As you peruse through this list it may be helpful to list times when you have behaved in alignment with these elements and also which elements you might want to work on.


  • Trust goes two ways—how much do you trust your team to get the job done and how much do they trust you to follow through on your commitments and remain authentic to them?
  • A desire to build trust must come from authenticity rather as a means to achieve a performance goal.

Keywords: leadership, emotional intelligence, trust


  • Ansell, C., & Gash, A. (2008). Collaborative governance in theory and practice. Journal of public administration research and theory, 18(4), 543-571.
  • Burke, C. S., Sims, D. E., Lazzara, E. H., & Salas, E. (2007). Trust in leadership: A multi-level review and integration. The Leadership Quarterly, 18(6), 606-632.
  • Hempel, P. S., Zhang, Z. X., & Tjosvold, D. (2008). Conflict management between and within teams for trusting relationships and performance in China. Journal of Organizational Behavior. Retrieved from
  • Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Leidner, D. E. (1998). Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 3(4). Retrieved from
  • Lee, P., Gillespie, N., Mann, L., & Wearing, A. (2010). Leadership and trust: Their effect on knowledge sharing and team performance. Management Learning, 41(4), 473-491.
  • Likert, R. (1967). The human organization: Its management and value. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Simpson, J. A. (2007). Psychological Foundations of Trust. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(5), 264-268.
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Great Leaders Got Soul

When I explore great leaders I always find they have a vast depth of thought, an intensity—a soul. Those who lead from the depths are genuine individuals who strive to make profound changes in the lives of many. Let’s explore two international leaders and how they might affect your leadership style.

Mahatma (Great Soul) Gandhi and Nelson Mandela both sought and enabled profound social justice improvements in their respective countries. At their core, their depth, they valued the principle of social equality and for it were willing to give their lives.

Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela

These leaders spent considerable time in reflection, whether in prison or voluntarily during their times of freedom. From these depths emerged the strong boughs, beautiful blossoms, and succulent fruits of their philosophy, providing the eloquence and fortitude to move ever onward.

Once these leaders came to power their drive continued as they worked to fulfill their mission. Others waiver and allow themselves to be corrupted by the power. Great leaders choose principle over power, maintaining a constant course using their moral compass.

I am reminded of the quote from Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority…” Following the Arab Spring we have several countries with fresh revolutions. My hope is that their elected leaders stay true to their moral compass and do not become drunk with power.

As I contrast great leaders with despots and politicians it is easy to see how the latter types operate from the surface. They only care about their own survival or promotion rather than a deep conviction for the greater good of the community.

Taking some time to reflect on the questions below may help you assess your leadership and find the convictions in the depths of your soul.


• How much time have you spent reflecting on your leadership role and what you might strive to accomplish?
• Which is more important to you: how you may be perceived as a leader or what profound changes you may be able to make in peoples’ lives?
• In what ways do you engage others in your mission and vision?
• Who are your role models and sources of inspiration?

Keywords: leadership, non-violence, soul, depth, power, principle, Arab Spring

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