Temperament and Leadership: One NF’s View

coffee breakAn 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.

Incubating Your Fiction Ideas

Do introverted writers have an advantage over extraverts when it comes to developing story ideas?

In her classic book Becoming a Writer, author Dorothea Brande admonishes writers against discussing their story ideas with others:

Your unconscious self … will not care whether the words you use are written down or talked to the world at large. If you are for the moment fortunate enough to have a responsive audience you often suffer for it later. You will have created your story and … will find yourself disinclined to go on with the laborious process of writing that story at full length; unconsciously, you will consider it as already done.

Most introverts should have little trouble following this advice. During early drafts, they like to work in isolation. But extraverts prefer to develop their ideas through talking about them with others. So how can extraverts follow their preference without killing their passion for the story?

Self-talk.

Neuroimaging studies suggest that introverts are more likely than extraverts to engage in self-talk. When developing a story, try talking to yourself, whether out loud or inside your head. Take notes of the conversation you have with yourself. Get your ideas on paper—don’t let them vanish into the ether.
Continue reading “Incubating Your Fiction Ideas”

Personality and Change Management

The recent Nova series “Becoming Human” on PBS showed that the species Homo sapiens is well adapted to environments that require change. This adaptability is a defining characteristic—it’s one reason we were able to out-compete other species of humans (such as Neanderthals) and drive them to extinction.

Given our evolutionary history, why do we find workplace change so difficult? Margaret Wheatley explains it this way: “People do not resist change – people change all the time. What people resist is having others impose change on them.”

In the webinar “Leveraging Personality Types in Agile Software Delivery,” Ravi Verma of SmoothApps explored how we can use knowledge of personality type to more successfully effect change (such as introducing the Agile software development process) in organizations. Using the book Introduction to Type and Change as a source, Verma offered the following insights:
Continue reading “Personality and Change Management”

Using Personality Type Theory to Develop Fictional Characters

index boxIn her 1929 novel Murder Yet to Come, Isabel Briggs Myers used her knowledge of personality type in creating her fictional characters. The novel won the national Detective Murder Mystery Contest, beating out a work by Ellery Queen. Her success suggests that personality type theory can add depth to fiction and help authors develop more believable characters. But doesn’t the author also risk stereotyping characters? What’s the best way to use personality type in writing fiction?

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Begin with an individual, and before you know it you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find that you have created—nothing.” In my experience, starting with a personality type in mind is the hardest way to create a character. It limits you. You end up making choices based on personality type rather than story. A novel is an organic thing. If you don’t let it evolve naturally, it will never breathe.

Do…

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion

cafeIn my last three posts, I examined how the Judging/Perceiving, Thinking/Feeling, and Sensing/Intuition dimensions of personality affect our mental energy when we approach a writing project. In this post, I look at the Extraversion/Introversion dimension. This scale measures whether we’re oriented inwardly or outwardly. In a writing project, it affects the environment we prefer to write in.

Extraverts gain energy from the outside world of people, objects, and events. They develop their ideas by talking with others. Extraverts tend to enjoy active and even noisy environments. They prefer to jump into the writing project and experiment with different approaches. They might use a conversational style during their first draft, which they may need to modify as appropriate for the subject matter. During revision, they require a quiet environment so they can focus on the task without distraction.

Introverts gain energy from the internal world of thoughts, concepts, and reactions. They prefer to begin a project by contemplating their ideas in a quiet environment. While conducting research, they may pause often to consider how the material relates to their project. They will likely jot down ideas and construct a rough outline in their head before they begin the first draft. Introverts are generally able to concentrate deeply and block out distractions. However, they don’t like interruptions when they’re lost in thought, so they work best in an isolated spot. During revision, introverts should seek feedback from a peer to ensure that what’s on paper (or the computer screen) accurately reflects what’s in their head.

Image courtesy of trublueboy.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception
Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling
Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition

Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition

jigsaw puzzle autumn treeIn my last two posts, I examined how the Judging/Perceiving and Thinking/Feeling dimensions of personality affect our mental energy when we approach a writing project. In this post, I look at the Sensation/Intuition dimension. This scale measures how we gather information. In a writing project, it affects what content we prefer to present.

Sensing types are motivated to write by a desire to report information that serves a practical purpose. They want a specific writing goal and a clear path to achieving it. They follow approaches that have worked well in the past, building on existing knowledge. They tend to move in a linear way from start to finish. They try to present details accurately and focus on the practical aspects of the topic. They’re straightforward and action-oriented. During revision, sensing types should ensure that they’ve provided context and a unifying theme to tie the details together.

Intuitive types are motivated to write by a desire to express new insights. They want a general idea of the project goals so they can plan their own approach. They try to bring a unique angle to each project. They tend to jump around as they write, letting one idea suggest another. They’re more interested in how the facts interrelate than they are in the facts themselves. They enjoy complexity and abstract theories. During revision, intuitive types should ensure that they give enough specific details to ground their work in reality.

In an upcoming post, I’ll explore how the Extraversion/Introversion dimension of personality affects our energy to write.

Image courtesy of chadou99.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion 
Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception
Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling

Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling

contemplative loversIn a previous post, I examined how the Judging/Perceiving dimension of personality affects our mental energy when we approach a writing project. In this post, I look at the Thinking/Feeling dimension. This scale measures the criteria we use to make decisions. In a writing project, it affects how we prefer to present the content.

Thinking types are motivated by a desire for clarity. They excel at relating factual information. They take the role of dispassionate observer and make their points through a logical unfolding of ideas. Thinking types focus on content and organization. With a systematic approach, they use critical analysis to dispel misconceptions and present new material. During revision, thinking types should ensure that they provide enough background material and explain why the subject is relevant to the reader.

Feeling types are motivated by a desire to connect with others. They excel at using writing to forge relationships. Feeling types look for a way to personally invest themselves in their subject. They include anecdotes to illustrate their points. They focus on expression and a sense of flow. With audience needs foremost in their mind, feeling types soften their arguments to create a sense of unity. During revision, feeling types should ensure accuracy and add facts to support their perspective.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion 
Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception
Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition

Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception

black and whiteAs with all creative exercises, a writing project requires sustained mental energy to take it to conclusion. Different personality types derive their energy in different ways. The Judging/Perceiving dimension of personality measures whether a person prefers closure or open-endedness. This affects how we approach a project at all stages, and what factors drive us toward completion.

Judging types like to begin a new project right away. This helps them develop a feel for the scope of the project and how long it’s going to take. Judging types don’t like surprises, and they want to be sure they have enough time to finish a project before the deadline. They determine what resources are needed and what steps are involved. They develop a primary plan and a contingency plan. They pad the schedule to prepare for the unexpected. They set milestones—and completing each of those intermediate tasks gives them energy that propels them forward. As the deadline approaches, though, their enthusiasm for the project may wane. All of that preparation and scheduling is draining, and they just want the thing over with. So with focused determination, they tie up the loose ends, send the project off, and forget about it.

Perceiving types may wait to start a new project, focusing instead on more urgent work already in progress. They like to spend time mulling over the project before they begin, and they generally devise a schedule by working backward from the deadline. Since they enjoy improvising and tend to be good at it, they often don’t create backup plans. They trust that everything will work itself out. Energized by new ideas, they enjoy research and may delay writing until they feel they’ve thoroughly explored the possibilities. Once they’ve gathered enough information, they begin to see the pieces fall into place. The deadline gives them energy to push toward the finish line. Without a deadline, they may lack motivation to complete a project. Conversely, some may continue tinkering with a project even after they’ve turned it in.

Image courtesy of sue_r_b.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion 
Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling
Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition

From Data to Knowledge: The Value of Psychological Type

BeakersAssessments of psychological type, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) instrument, rely on self-reporting rather than clinical observation. Respondents answer a series of questions, and based on their answers, receive a report of what their likely personality type is. In fact, one of the MBTI ethical principles is that only the respondents are qualified to determine which type best fits them. The role of the MBTI practitioner is to guide them through the process.

What, then, is the value of psychological type? If you’re just relating things you already know about yourself, how are you learning anything?

To answer this question, it’s useful to consider the knowledge pyramid model. One version of this model proposes three different levels of understanding: data, information, and knowledge. The answers to the questions on the MBTI assessment are at the lowest level—data. But data, on its own, isn’t meaningful. It doesn’t contribute to knowledge until it’s combined and organized with other data, so that context and patterns emerge.
Continue reading “From Data to Knowledge: The Value of Psychological Type”

Navigating Your Blind Spots, Part 3: Introverts

In my last post, I discussed how the natural blind spots of extraverts can create conflict on teams. Here, I explore the blind spots of introverts based on the dominant function of their Myers-Briggs personality type.

Introverted thinking (INTP/ISTP) values knowledge. Dominant introverted thinking expects people to focus on objective data when making decisions. It views personal considerations as illogical and unpredictable, and therefore not a sound basis for reaching conclusions.

Introverted thinking types naturally assume
that logic-based insights can stand on their own, requiring no explanation or defense. By looking beyond this assumption, Continue reading “Navigating Your Blind Spots, Part 3: Introverts”