Coaching Leaders: Temperament Strengths and Slip-Ups Great leaders have strengths. Unbeknownst to some of them, they may also have some areas that warrant attention and development. Coaching leaders generally involves two steps. First, a coach must ask the right questions in order to help them identify their potential strengths and possible blind spots. The next step is to motivate them to make certain changes by highlighting how these strengths and developmental areas affect their ability to lead effectively. Of course, a straightforward way of having a targeted discussion with a high potential leader is to focus on his or her relative preferences in isolation – Benefits of E and I, S and N, T and F and J and P in leadership, for example. However, I have also found that an efficient and insightful way to examine leadership style on a deeper level is to use the Temperament model. It provides another level of insight into how a person may view and exercise power and authority, based on their motivations. The Temperament model is based on four different clusters of behaviour or activity patterns. If you are familiar with the MBTI instrument, temperament arises from the combination of various preferences – Intuition and Feeling (NF), Intuition and Thinking (NT), Sensing and Judging (SJ), Sensing and Perceiving (SP). If you are a coaching a leader toward leveraging his strengths and mitigating his or her blindspots, keep in mind the following: NF Temperament – Leaders of People (ENFP, INFP, ENFJ, INFJ) For NF’s, leadership power lies in relationships. They strive to relate to others personally and earn their commitment and loyalty. In order to do this, NF’s are often inspirational, sincere, and respectful of others for their contribution. NF leaders desire a connected, cohesive group of followers that firmly believe in their work. Challenges for NF leaders often arise from their tendency to be too idealistic. They may overlook the need to make the tough call at times as they are relationship focused, and may forget parameters, resources and implementation details in their attempts to communicate lofty visions and goals. NT Temperament – Competence is Key (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP) For NT’s, leadership power resides in competence. NT’s are focused on objective clarity and tend to adopt a logical, strategic analysis of issues. Since they are highly focused on competence, they tend to be quick to “helpfully point out flaws”, which they believe will help others improve. They are often direct and to the point, placing a high premium on quality of a group’s outcomes and deliverables. Challenges for NT leaders often arise from their tendency to be overly critical and competitive. Other preferences may not see their “helpful critique” the same way, and NT leaders can sometimes intimidate those who follow them. SJ Temperament – Meaning in Order (ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ) SJ’s typically believe that power lies in the structure and hierarchy of the organization and groups they work with. SJ’s rely on the system of their organization and the traditions their workplace has established, while placing meaning and value on earned-thus-recognized positions of authority. As leaders, they emphasize the importance of efficiency and practicality and as they strive to impose order on their work, they are dedicated to accuracy and detail. Challenges for SJ leaders often arise from their tendency to be too bureaucratic. They may also appear ‘micromanaging’ if their detail oriented and executing approach is manifested in an extreme way; in their effort to impose order, they may overlook the necessity to give others the autonomy and trust necessary. SP Temperament – The Save-the-Dayers (ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP) SP’s exercise power by solving problems and acting with cleverness and timeliness. SP’s are often the ‘first responders’ in any given situation that requires immediate attention and practical problem solving. They tend to live in the moment, and are willing to ignore personal relationships and organizational procedures if they are limiting the SP’s ability to resolve the needs of the moment. Since SP’s are spontaneous and resourceful, they tend to be very agile and effective in crisis management. Challenges for SP leaders often arise from their tendency to be too expedient. Moreover, in an effort to meet emerging day-to-day issues as this is where their enjoyment lies, they may overlook the need to refocus their efforts on bigger picture strategic goals and vision. If you’re interested in enhancing your expertise further regarding Type and Leadership, please check out our recently redesigned Knowledge Centre for practitioner-focused resources on topics including Leadership, Stress, Conflict, Team-Building, and Communication.