An article on the OKA website is titled, What, and Where, Is Power? A Look at Leadership through the Temperament Lens. I read the article with some surprise. It seemed spot-on for all the temperaments except mine—the NFs (Idealists). The article refers to NFs as “The People People.” This is out of step with how I see myself as a very highly expressed introvert. The article focuses on the NF’s feeling preference but does not, in my opinion, give enough attention to the intuition preference.
Granted, the two extraverted types in this temperament (ENFJs and ENFPs) may indeed be “people people.” Perhaps even the INFPs, with their dominant introverted feeling, might fit that description. But INFJs, like me, with dominant introverted intuition? I don’t think so.
Don’t get me wrong. INFJs are intensely interested in people. We find them to be fascinating subjects of study. Our dominant intuition focuses on concepts and patterns relating to human behavior. But our interest in personal relationships is generally limited to family and a small circle of close friends. If coworkers become friends, that’s great. But we don’t seek it out. A business environment isn’t conducive to the deep emotional connections that INFJs find meaningful. We’re happy to maintain businesslike relationships. We don’t expect that everyone we work with will like us, nor do we expect to like everyone we work with.
NFs seek harmony in their professional relationships, as in all relationships. They prefer a business environment that is collaborative rather than competitive. As leaders, NFs foster personal growth rather than the zero-sum game that competition engenders. NF leaders genuinely care about the well-being of those on their team and want to help them build their skills and improve their performance. They’re likely to acknowledge when someone does well and to offer encouragement when someone is unsure how to proceed. And if things go badly, NF leaders are unlikely to criticize; instead, they’ll look for mentorship opportunities and examine the environment for obstacles to success.
Mere “compliments” or “a pat on the back” may be regarded by many NFs (particularly the introverts) as hollow and insincere—and in fact, they can be demotivating for some NFs. The perfectionist INFJs and INFPs strive to perform well as a matter of personal integrity. To be complimented by their manager in front of their peers can be mortifying and can undermine their accomplishment in their eyes. Singling out one person, when the entire team is working hard, can demoralize others—and NFs know this. They don’t want to be praised. They want to be consulted. To show that you respect their abilities, ask for their expertise.
NF leaders exercise power by harnessing the abilities of their team. Their feeling preference focuses their attention on meeting the needs of their employees, while their intuitive preference drives them to constantly look for ways that everyone on the team (including themselves) can improve. They respect the individual while working for the common good—and they expect their employees to do the same.
Looking for more information on temperament and leadership? The Keisey.com website offers articles on getting along with your boss, based on temperament. The site also offers articles on presenting to a boss with a different temperament than yours.